Sunday, April 18, 2010

Non-consensual

Usually when I'm on a trip, I'm by myself, so I have time to write down what I'm seeing and hearing. This time I'm with a friend, so I've been talking instead. I'm taking a break and she's taking a swim, so I have time to catch up on writing about Vegas, and Them Crooked Vultures.

We arrived in Las Vegas on Friday, and spent most of the evening gorging - I think that's the right word - gorging on the all you can eat buffet at the Bellagio. Not the Wynn - we're going to the Wynn tomorrow morning. The buffet was an astonishing $36 a head so in order to get my money's worth I mostly ate fish, mostly raw, in industrial quantities. Oh and four desserts.

Saturday morning started off nice with breakfast at a Cuban restaurant I've been to before, down at the Elvis Wedding Chapel end of the strip. It's called the Florida Cafe. Mmmm Cuban breakfast. Very nice, full of sweet fried plantain, and I supplemented it with a tasty tamal. Later we went to Nobu and ate a further ketch-full of raw fish. Nobu came highly recommended i.e. Ross Halfin talks in his diary about eating there with Jimmy Page, so we had to try it, and it lived up to expectations.

We are here to do more than mow our way through hundreds of pounds of food though, so the next stop was the Hard Rock to see Them Crooked Vultures. They rocked - of course, like Nobu they are a sure thing. I wasn't particularly familiar with the songs as the CD left me cold, but TCV are hardly a sing-along feel-good band, so that didn't matter.

In fact, last night I managed to work out why they rock, and why the CD left me cold. They have a Zeppelinesque quality, and it's not just because John Paul Jones is their bassist. It's because they have that overwhelming access to power and control that Zeppelin used to have. Since TCV is without a Robert Plant hippy-type to ameliorate their Dom tendencies, they are harder and heavier than Zeppelin in that respect. They just stand (or sit on their drum stool) there and flex tens of thousands of Watts, tens of thousands of hours of mastery of their instruments, and yards of clever-dick lyrics, and wield absolute command over everybody and everything in front of them.

When I was young and just getting into Led Zeppelin, this was an awesome stance to take. I really just wanted someone to force me to the floor and give it to me, and Led Zeppelin certainly did that. Now I prefer, you know, roses and chocolate or something first...maybe a dinner...sushi dinner...mm fish...OK get back on topic... right, I prefer a little negotiation, and then getting forced to the floor and given it. I think I get that combination with the Dead Weather (though I think the roses would be artfully arranged in the eyesockets of a grinning paper skull with that band) which is why I like them and don't like say, the Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver or all the tragic indie folkies, who would be all sushi dinners (stay on track now) and no happy ending.

Them Crooked Vultures are entirely about that controlled violence. It comes over much better live (for me anyway) because you can actually see them doing it, see them physically putting out that level of discipline and can watch the crowd metaphorically forced to its knees before them. It lets you know it's not some knob-twiddler in the studio pressing some "add dominance" button in Pro Tools. It was fun to see and hear that sort of music again and a good time was had by all.

In the taxi line outside we were behind someone who looked like Dave Grohl. Someone behind me shouted out, "Hey, you look like Dave Grohl! Oh, you aren't. Well, it would be much cooler if you were Dave Grohl!".

I felt very sorry for the guy, who I'm sure is pretty cool as whoever he is, and really didn't need to be told by some stranger that he wasn't.

We got back to our little timeshare, and, the fish having worn off, made a midnight run to Albertsons where we got a discounted rotisserie chicken ($3) and more vodka.

My cellphone photos of the show look like cellphone photos, so I won't bother. Instead here's a picture of the hotel called Paris. See, it has an Eiffel Tower!

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And inside Paris, everything looks like Paris, with Boulangeries and Patisseries and things. We ate at the Creperie, which was totally crepe. More like British pancakes than crepes and the filling had been micro-miniaturized to vanishing point. Also we had to wait 15 minutes because they only had two griddles.

But that's not all! Inside Paris, two of the legs of the Eiffel Tower come down inside the hotel. And the hotel ceiling is painted as the Paris sky. So it looks like this.

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Isn't that weird? I'd know if I were living in the Truman Show or something, because there'd be things like that left around that didn't look quite right.

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