Vegoose, Day 1

Vegoose Music Festival, Las Vegas, Saturday, October 27.

By Randall Roberts

Back and forth we walk, through fairway-cut grass, soft and padded on practice fields, the kind that feels really good beneath bare feet. Vegoose day one, and everything is neat and tidy near UNLV. We flow in early, a gentle forest-fire haze coating the sunrays with gauze, we the fresh-faced and willing. In the daytime, it all seems so simple out here. People wander, lounge on blankets, mingle, like we're in a 21st century treeless Seurat. A maintenance guy sweeps up little bits of trash into a dustpan like he's a theater usher, as if in six hours hence we'll ever know the difference. Vegoose: two days, 27 performances, only two of whom, M.I.A. and Blonde Redhead, feature women. The rest are dudes. Most of the shoes are either Chuck Taylors or skate shoes. A few flip flops.

The set-up's simple: Three stages, each with its own sad, unclever name -- Double Down, Snake Eyes and Jokers Wild – lined in a row, a few football field lengths away from each other. Triangulated at the top is a row of food vendors for the grease to be slathered later on in the night, and booze purveyors for the eventual drenching. There's a ferris wheel, V.I.P. sections, an artists' compound, where there is free food, drink, massage, everything necessary to relax. Throughout the acreage, enough dope to kill Cypress Hill. It is smoked and smoked hard, and the wonderfully porous and unconcerned gate security lend an air of relaxation to the proceedings. A few cops on horseback aren't very stealth, to say the least. (You could have hauled in an LSD lab, basically.)

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Or, another, equally accurate take, as uttered by a passerby to his friend, “I can smell the roofies in the air.”

More to come as this, the second day, progresses. I've got notes, but it's a lot to digest, and I'm missing Ghostface Killah right now. But yesterday, the Battles were great, the Shins dressed like chess pieces, Iggy and the Stooges performed Fun House and then some. Mastodon declared their intentions early on: "We came to please the wicked." They pleased us. Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme theorized: "Everybody knows you dance like you fuck," and for the next four hours I saw a lot of horrifying fuckers. The highlight of last night? Daft Punk, of course. Don't worry, you'll hear all about it, and more. In a nutshell: a lot of people saw God. And I'm pretty sure something weird landed on the mountain behind them. I've got this one photo that I'm having a hard time explaining.

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