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Viva Las Vegas, Las Rageous rock their own way — PHOTOS

Greasers at Fuddruckers.

Sixty-six-year-olds with skull tattoos in the shadows of Fremont Street.

Between Viva Las Vegas overtaking The Orleans — including its food court — and Las Rageous engulfing the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, 20-some hours were spent in the presence of hepcats and hair farmers.

At the former, everything was big: the cars, the ’dos, the bar tabs.

At the latter, the understated intermingled with the overblown, with A Perfect Circle delivering a rapt performance of elegant, enveloping alt-rock Friday; blustery metallers In This Moment providing a feminine touch — or gut punch, rather — Saturday as Las Rageous drew a crowd of more than 12,000, the biggest in the venue’s young history.

A few highlights:

Most anticipated set of weekend

“This is the most crowded parking lot I’ve ever seen,” Brian Setzer observed, gazing out over a sweaty mass of landing-strip-wide hairdos and tattooed Marilyn Monroes. Playing their first gig in more than a decade, the Stray Cats performed in front a huge audience at Viva Las Vegas’ outdoor car show Saturday.

When they debuted in the early ’80s, the Stray Cats were somehow both ahead of and behind the times, a forward-thinking anachronism: Their sound was rooted in the ’50s, and yet they were the band that catalyzed a rockabilly boom by taking the music to the mainstream for the first time in decades.

And so their performance felt like a victory lap of sorts, beginning with “Runaways,” the first song from their first album. With Lee Rocker slapping at his upright bass with enough force to make the crop of blond hair atop his head shimmy and shake like corn tassels in a violent storm, the trio was a synthesis of those that they shared the stage with Saturday: the lickety-split guitar licks of Duane Eddy and the rock-and-roll song craft of Jerry Lee Lewis, who, donning a sparkly red sportcoast at age 82, demonstrated that he’s still fleet-fingered on the piano keys, if a little froggy of voice.

“Long-haired music, it cramps my style,” Setzer explained in song during “Something’s Wrong with My Radio.”

Speaking of which …

Most awesome usage of a bird of prey with lightning shooting from its talons

Said image served as the stage backdrop for British heavy metal classicists Saxon, who played Las Rageous on Saturday. It also doubles as the cover art for their latest record, “Thunderbolt,” which is loaded with tellingly titled rippers such as “Speed Merchants” and “Sons of Odin.”

One new tune that Saxon performed, “They Played Rock and Roll,” was a tribute to countrymen Motorhead, who disbanded upon the death of frontman Lemmy Kilmister in December 2015.

“Bass like thunder / Drums of steel / Guitars of fury / With lightning fear,” headbanging frontman Biff Byford bellowed, describing his former tourmates, though his words could just as well been applied to his own band.

Best product placement

Had you been blindfolded and unknowingly transported to The Orleans by the world’s most impeccably coiffed captors Friday evening, you would have immediately recognized your location when the band on stage began hawking its own brand of pomade. Toronto’s The Greasemarks delivered a warmly received set of dyed-in-the-wool rockabilly, with their drummer brandishing a comb between songs to make sure that not a lock was out of place.

Sweetest stage prop

You knew it was coming, kind of like the hangover awaiting so many the next day.

And yet, when that Harley motor was revved, the adrenaline flowed like gasoline to said engine as Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford rode his hog on stage prior to “Hell Bent for Leather.”

Somehow, this wasn’t even the coolest moment of the set: Guitarist Glenn Tipton, who had been sitting out Priest’s current tour as he battles Parkinson’s disease, rejoined his bandmates during the encore.

The first song he played: “Metal God.”


Oh, and there was also the mucho-manly stage design of Las Rageous’ mucho-manly Saturday headliners, Five Finger Death Punch, which boasted a mammoth two-story skull with equally massive silver baseball bats serving as its crossbones.


An informal poll of those in attendance demonstrated, on average, a 37.5 percent increase in chest hair upon mere sight of the thing.

Best in show(s)

Think of a freight train loaded down with party supplies, comin’ too fast around the bend.

That’s the way Neil Fallon, the thick-bearded, Paul Bunyan-voiced frontman for hard rockers Clutch, described “Sucker for the Witch,” a pretty spot-on encapsulation of the bass-heavy bombast of the number in question.

Fallon performed that one, and damn near every other song, with legs splayed wide, posed like an offensive lineman directly after the ball has been snapped on a passing down, bracing himself from the rhythmic torque his band was generating as opposed to a hard-charging defensive end.

Clutch’s repertoire is elemental in both approach and appeal: guitar, bass and drums all tussling with one another in the service of grooves that both seduce and concuss.

At Las Rageous on Friday, they aired beer-in-the-air anthems such as “Earth Rocker” and “Noble Savage,” both badass rock-and-rollers about how badass it is to be a rock-and-roller.

“This next number is about driving a hot rod through outer space,” Fallon announced prior to “Crucial Velocity,” begging the obvious question: Is it possible to lay rubber on the moon?

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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