June 2008: Viva Las Vegas #11, Cher, Warped Tour, Billy Idol, Gay Pride & Yaz!

Hello readers, I have been all over the place lately, as usual! Lets kick off with the annual Rockabilly Weekender, Viva Las Vegas #11, which happened April 10-13.

This event has grown and grown, and grown some more! It has actually outgrown its home hotel and casino after 11 years, the Gold Coast. Next Year, the event will be held at the bigger hotel and casino, The Orleans; which was host to this year’s Sunday pool party, which was the bomb! The pool at the Orleans was huge and packed. I actually had to wait in line for 20 minutes to get into the pool area, and about 30 minutes to get drinks. (Note to self: Next year bring your own booze to the pool!) http://www.vivalasvegas.net/

Anyway, due to this year’s crazy huge turnout (I think around 4,000 Rockabilly fans!), I was more of a social butterfly than a music reporter. Bad, bad Amnesia… I am fully aware of it, and feel bad that I don’t have any news about awesome bands I saw to report on this year. I’ve done you readers a disservice here, and I’m sorry! Since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” check out the photo gallery: http://www.vivalasvegas.net/gallery.php.

I did have a ton of fun as usual though, and promise to have more Rockabilly news by November, because the very talented promoter of Viva Las Vegas, Tom Ingram, is co-hosting a new Vegas Weekend event this October to be held at The Orleans with Jerry Chatterbox (UK), called the Rockabilly Rave! I have already booked my room and weekend pass, and I can’t wait! For more info: http://www.rockabillyraveusa.com/

While at Viva Las Vegas, I mostly hung out at the pool, went to the biggest car show I think I’ve ever seen, and I managed to see the Royal Crown Revue. http://www.rcr.com Singer Eddie Nichols, was a lot of fun to watch, and people were having a ball dancing to their free lounge show at The Palms hotel. It was pretty cool. It reminded me of the old Vegas… the Rat Pack’s Vegas. In all, it was a fun vacation weekend, with tons of pretty girls as eye candy, but I dropped the ball on seeing enough bands! I will have more to report in next year for sure. I look forward to the change of venue.

Cher_3332-1_v01ME&AMCherSillyAt the end of May, I went back to Vegas for a few days with 5 gay guys to see Cher! Boy, is that woman fabulous! (And boy, am I a fag hag!) The costumes, the dancers, the SHOW! I mean really, it was pretty un-top-able! She is fierce and amazing, especially for being 62 years old! She has a great sense of humor about herself and life, and pulls out all the stops for this amazing show. She must have changed outfits two dozen times, and every one must have cost a fortune.

An unexpected and favorite part of the show for me was when she performed Pat Benetar’s “Love is a Battlefield!” Cher skulked around that stage like a Punk Rock Lioness, surrounded by Mad Max dancers! (Maybe you’d have to see it yourself to understand what I’m saying.) Anyway, it was QUITE a show.

When we entered the theatre, there were these big glass encasements with Cher mannequins that have many of her famous Bob Mackie costumes, complete with crazy headdresses. Those costumes were incredible. If this woman ever retires, she should have her own museum just like Liberace! I’d go! (Liberace’s museum in Vegas is incredible by the way!)

Cher is doing a 3-year stint at Caesar’s Palace, and they even have a whole Cher store! You can buy Cher wineglasses, flip-flops, an 80-dollar hoodie, and more! I had a lot of fun laughing at that store, and I did end up buying a 40-dollar T-shirt! For more about the tour: http://www.cher.com/

582681_10151003425073671_1858197576_nOne of my friends who was on this trip is an amazing professional photographer, Austin Young. We did a funny impromptu photo shoot in the hotel room before we went out to dinner one night and I told the guys, “I can drink with my ankles next to my ears,” and they were like, “let’s see it.” So I did, and there was a lot of laughing, and well, here are the photos. They have been getting a lot of attention on my myspace page! www.austinyoung.com (I wish I had a talented pro photographer around all the time! I can only imagine what else would result!)

I also had a fun dinner at a really cool restaurant at the Luxor Hotel and Casino called Cathouse. The place was decked out with a lingerie bordello theme, lovely chandeliers and a great attention to detail. I absolutely adored the décor. There was a girl in a glass box wearing lingerie for your voyeuristic entertainment, sort of like the red light district in Amsterdam, but without the sleaziness of prostitution. It was more theatrical. For those of you who have a burlesque fetish, you must go to this restaurant. It is tremendous! http://www.luxor.com/nightlife/cathouse.aspx

images-3On Thursday, June 26, I got to go see the love of my life, my future husband (I HOPE!), Billy Idol! http://www.billyidol.net I tried to get a press pass for this show, and wasn’t able to get one because he actually sold out 2 nights at the Fillmore! I just knew that come hell or high water, I HAD to see this show, and I would find a way. I ended up showing up at the venue and getting in, but as for how… my lips are sealed.

Anyway, Billy Idol sounded incredible! He played, “Rock the Cradle of Love,” “Dancing with Myself,” “Flash for Fantasy,” “Mony, Mony,” “White Wedding,” etc, etc. I remember really enjoying “Blue Highway,” and of course, we all went wild when he did “Rebel Yell!”

Steve Stevens is a rock and roll guitar god, by the way! He did like a 10-minute Spanish guitar, rock and roll solo while Billy Idol took a break, and that guy is just so completely cool and super-talented! He was playing while smoking a cigarette on top of a speaker, practically one-handed. It sounds cheesy, but I sware it wasn’t!

I had an incident at this show pretty early on that really messed up the night for me though. I went on the floor to try to get a better spot to watch, and I spotted a girl who had smuggled a camera in and was taking photos. I wanted to get to her to ask her if she would send me some photos to share with all of you beautiful readers. When I got near her to talk to her, a guy totally felt up my ass. I turned and said something to him like, “I don’t appreciate you grabbing my ass,” and all of a sudden, his gang of beefy friends surrounded me, while taunting me and saying stuff about grabbing my ass.

I was squished and surrounded on all sides by big guys, and felt myself start to panic. All I could think of at that point was getting away from this angry, mean, testosterone-fueled crew. I bolted, and went off to the edge of the crowd and started tearing up, trying not to cry, and to calm down. Well, some dumb guy picked that very moment to hit on me and said, “You’re like the rock and roll fantasy.” I was just so pissed off at that moment, feeling sexually victimized. It sucked. I was so upset by it that I didn’t feel like I really got to enjoy the show like I wanted to. (By the way, the girl taking photos never sent me any either.)

I can’t remember if he performed the songs, “Don’t need a Gun,” “Eyes without a Face,” “Catch my Fall,” or “Scream,” all of which I really wanted to hear. After the incident, I spent most of the night trying to find a place to stand and watch, and I just never found a good spot, so I ended up being upset, distracted, continually shoved. Sometimes I really hate being a girl. Anyway, he did do “Sweet Sixteen,” which was really good, and during the encore, I got really excited by the surprise of his performing “Ready Steady Go” by his former band Generation X, which is among my top 3 favorite bands of all time. That was a great moment.

In all, I am so thrilled that I got to see Billy Idol! I just wish his fans were cooler. The crowd who pays $60+ to see a show is old and lame! There were no cool people there except the 3 friends I saw there! Oh well… I still love him and want to marry him. If anyone can help me meet him, I will give you a HUGE finders fee! (ha, ha!) I may try to go to his Las Vegas show on Sept. 12, so you might get to hear more.

I also recently went to the Vans Warped Tour on Saturday, June 21. www.warpedtour.com I wanted to go specifically to see the Aggrolites, who I had seen one drunken night at South by Southwest in Austin earlier this year, and wanted to see again. Well, guess what? I missed them! I hate one thing about the Warped Tour, and that is that it’s so big and there are so many stages that it can be confusing, and it can cause you to miss bands you wanted to see! That is exactly what happened to me. I was at the wrong stage waiting for them, and when I realized it, and got to the correct stage, they were done! I was really disappointed.

2697300756_837a0aa7b5_bWhen I arrived at the show, I checked in with the nice lady who was in charge of handling the press, and I asked her if she could give me an itinerary or map of the stages, and she said that since they were “going green this year” they could not give me any paper of that sort, as I had hoped for, which could have helped me avoid this predictable blunder. I am totally supportive of “going green,” but unfortunately, it caused me to miss the only band I specifically went to the show to see! The only saving graces of the day were that I got the opportunity to finally see a friend’s band, The Departed, who I thought were really good, and I got to see another band I planned to see, The Horrorpops. http://www.horrorpops.com

The Horrorpops are pretty fun to watch. I enjoy Psychobilly and stand up bass, and the singer chick had a huge beehive and a very cool custom bass. She’s got great style and a lovely voice. On electric bass, Necroman, also had a cool custom bass. (He makes custom basses.) Their show was fun, but nothing really exciting to report on. I like them, but I don’t love them. I like her voice, but they don’t have any songs that get me excited.

So in all, for me, my Warped Tour experience this year was lackluster! Since I had 3 bands in mind to see, and only saw one, I didn’t get an enjoyable experience out it this time. (The other one I wanted to see was Shwayze, who I also saw at South by Southwest and wanted to see again. They played before noon, and I don’t get anywhere that early, especially when I bartend and don’t get to sleep til 4 a.m.!) I still might like to check out the Warped Tour again next year, and I really hope to have more luck next time! If they could post some sort of itinerary online, or text it to our cell phones, they could “go green,” while also making it a more organized and easier experience for the fans and press who want to cover it. That may be a tall order, but I know people would really appreciate it.

Next, I wouldn’t be me without at least setting foot in the middle of Gay Pride Weekend, one of San Francisco’s busiest events. www.sfpride.org This year’s Pride weekend drew more crowds and attention than ever, due to the recent legalization of Gay Marriage in California. It was a big, happy crowd.

I got up earlier than normal, and headed down to the civic center/ city hall area where they set up the main stage, in hopes of seeing Margaret Cho and Cyndi Lauper, who were scheduled to perform at 1:20 and 1:30pm. I was disappointed again! Margaret Cho only came out and waved at us (no performance!), and Cyndi Lauper got held up in the parade and never made it to the stage. That was disappointing! I wandered around for a while, and ended up swing dancing to a queer rockabilly band.

Eventually, I ended up at Drag Queen Juanita Moore’s annual pool party at the Phoenix hotel, getting really drunk. www.juanitamore.com Oh well. At least I got to hang with my friends Adrian and the Mysterious D, whose club, Bootie was set up in a hotel room on the down low. Here’s a photo of Adrian looking fierce, with me ready to call it a day! Thanks, Adrian and D for the hospitality! Bootie, their bootleg mashup club, happens twice a month in San Francisco, and once a month in New York, Los Angeles, Munich and Paris. www.bootiesf.com, www.bootieusa.com, www.bootiela.com, www.bootieparis.com, www.bootiemunich.com

This year’s Fourth of July was a lot of fun. I took a boat called “The Happy Hooker” from the Berkeley Marina to the San Francisco Bay and back, with a group of people to watch the fireworks. It was lovely and quaint, and a unique experience that solidified my love for this beautiful city I have the pleasure of living in.

yaz_lOn Monday, July 7, I went to see 80s new wave sensations, Yaz, (aka Yazoo) at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. This was their first live tour in 25 years! Singer Alison Moyet has such a powerhouse voice. She is amazing, and her talent has not faded a bit. I was so pleased to see that both Moyet and Synth master Vince Clarke (also of Erasure and formerly of Depeche Mode) looked really good.

You could feel the crowd’s love when they cheered during Moyet’s more impressive vocal parts. She can really belt it out in her own incomparable way. Moyet was endearing in her demeanor when thanking the crowd for their loving cheers. She seemed very happy, and like the kind of gal who would be a lot of fun to go dance at a club with. Clarke is completely reserved, doesn’t move much, and is definitely no showman; but he did finally smile at the end when they bowed, which was nice to see.

There were interesting random lit graphics and lights, very 80s inspired, which added to the experience. My favorite was when they performed “Sweet Thing,” with a lot of candy graphics behind them. I wasn’t able to take photos due to the band’s request and venue rules, but I wish I could share some of what I saw with all of you. (Some can be seen on the fan gallery page on their site. http://www.yazooinfo.com/fangallery.html) (Photo shown by Janos Janurik).

They performed all the old favorites, “Goodbye Seventies,” “Nobody’s Diary,” “In my Room,” “Midnight,” “Don’t Go,” “Bring your Love Down (Didn’t I),” “Only You,” Situation,” and a lot of slower numbers as well, which were well spaced through out the show. During slower numbers, the crowd was seated, and I felt like I was at a new wave opera. The pop-ier numbers continually brought the crowd to their feet. I’m very glad I saw this group perform, as I was a big fan back in the 80s when I was a teenager. It was fun to get to experience them live all these years later, and see that they sounded as good as they ever did. For those of you who liked them in their heyday, I’d say they definitely did not disappoint. http://www.yazooinfo.com/

Coming up, I may be planning a trip to Europe, as well as Vegas for the Rockabilly Rave in October, and possibly Billy Idol. More to come, my friends! Until then,

XXXOOO Alisha Amnesia

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