Young the Giant at the Book & Stage in The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Coming off the high of Macca’s show at MGM Grand—what can I say—just another 33-song epic tour through pop’s greatest songbook—he fucking opened with “Magical Mystery Tour”—I’ll just say that much—I figured a “W” was already in the night’s win column, so why not gamble on a quick jaunt over to The Cosmopolitan and catch Young The Giant’s second set at the Book & Stage bar. Maybe get an idea of what Morrissey sees in this O.C. 5-piece that so moved him to post a rare encomium over on his online mouthpiece. Also, I’ll maybe get to the bottom of this distressing trend of bands with names configured as [blank] the [blank]. Foster The People. Portugal. The Man. And… uh… Damn. Thought I had more. Moving on. Hell, it was either this or McLovin’s birthday party at Gallery.
The Cosmopolitan then. First time darkening its doorway myself. Of course it’s stupid to compare advertising to the real thing but–holy moly–the crowd and vibe at The Cosmopolitan could not be more unlike that of their ads. What’s the Vegas equivalent of “Bridge & Tunnel”…? “I 15 & Southwest”…? The energy in the room is just off. It kind of feels vaguely anxious, maybe a bit angry. Not really convivial. It’s competitive, professional partying, on display for adjacent booths and cabanas and for the frenemies stuck home to lurk over with jealousy online. It’s all seemingly removed a level or two from the physical pleasures of the indulging. You sense the active scripting and staging of updates and tweets. It feels like the joint is maybe just one drunken punch away from going off. Hey, just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after me. Say a thin young lady in her strapless tube dress and wobbly heels, bumps the $12 appletini of a–ahem–heavy-set young lady in her tube dress and her wobbly heels–and it’s on. Or Producthead Douche X in his untucked, open-collared Macy’s Young Men’s dept. button-down brushes against Producthead Douche Y in his open-collared untucked Macy’s Young Men’s dept. button-down. It’s like a prom, but with rival schools. MTV should just buy the rights to the security camera footage from this place, splice in commercials and throw it right on the air.
Young the Giant then. What to say about these competent, seemingly good natured local guys. I’ll go on record and say they used to be called The Jakes. They’re probably better than Local Natives, to toss out a random comparison and piss somebody off. They’re perfectly fine and innocuous. Solid musicians, if the parts and arrangements are not terribly inventive. The guitarists often do that thing where they make loose noise on the verses, then drive home the choruses on thick chords. The singer, Sameer, ostensibly the draw for Moz, is a star. He’s got charisma that projects well beyond the tips of the vodka bottles behind which they’re playing. He’s got some nice pipes on him, but I didn’t get a sense of range and nuance I got in their clips. Their bass man has this chill bro vibe, all happy melodic noodling, stupid fedora, beard and perpetual smile. Not my thing but, hey, you might like his noodling and his hat and his beard and his smile. They close out their set with the “My Body”, the “hit” with the big chorus and then they’re out of there, no doubt rushing over to Gallery to watch McLovin blow out his 22 candles. I would put a $1 chip on a 10,000-to-1 that YTG might become the next Coldplay. And I’ll bet $1 that The Cosmopolitan becomes the next Palms.