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'Band TBA' part of the surprise at this pool party

July 20, 2008|Richard Abowitz | Special to The Times

An UNEXPECTED reunion concert took place here the other day between Jane's Addiction principals Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro, a surprisingly low-key affair. Announced about a week before the concert took place, this was actually, according to Farrell, the first time the two had ever played together outside of their years with Jane's Addiction.

Rather than play that up, this was as casual an encounter as is possible to mount considering the circumstances. The crowd was of course thrilled when shirtless Navarro joined Farrell onstage. The highlight was the crowd sing-along, as the two worked through their hit "Jane Says." That moment was about as cliched as any Vegas reunion moment could be. And by the next day, the clip was posted on YouTube.

Farrell did a DJ set afterward, and many people did not even know Navarro was appearing until they saw his name on the casino marquee. And the show was not on the Strip. Rather, this concert took place at the high-end local's casino Red Rock Resort -- at the swimming pool.

Unlike reunion tours that hit Vegas (Van Halen, Bon Jovi), this was not in any way a big-money cash-in. This was a short concert (about 30 minutes) that received no more emphasis from the promoters than the charity wine-tasting before the show. This was the second of the occasional Saturday nights at Red Rock of what has quickly become the most-buzzed-about pool party to emerge this summer: Bottle Rock-It.

The key, according to Kyle Markmen, manager of night life and special events for Station Casinos, was to create an audience for the series rather than simply attracting tourists based on the fame of the headliner. So, the Bottle Rock-It series mixes a charity wine-tasting, a pool party with a nightclub vibe (rented VIP cabanas) and a concert followed by a DJ set. To keep the excitement level up, the resort has been announcing the headliners around a week before their appearances.

The eclectic series debuted over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with Slash and friends (including Jason Bonham and Jerry Cantrell as well as Farrell). About 2,000 people were there for the Bottle Rock-It premiere on July 5. But that number hit around 3,000 for the second event with Farrell two weeks later. The series returns Saturday with the artist yet to be announced.

So, while Red Rock Resort hopes that tourists will come for these big-name headliners, the appeal of Bottle Rock-It also hits squarely at locals. So, most telling, tickets for the show with Farrell and Navarro were a mere $20. As one local, George Lyons, 48, who hosts a radio show on KUNV, put it: "To find any event in Vegas for under $50 is nearly impossible, and for this level of talent unprecedented. And, you not only have great music, there are more girls in bikinis than at a strip club. I am never going to miss one of these again."

For Farrell, the Bottle Rock-It vision fits perfectly with his sense of how electronic and live music should mix. Just before a sound check, Farrell explained to me in his VIP suite that the performance with Navarro was happening more in the spirit of the Bottle Rock-It event than under the auspices of the well-oiled reunion industry. "I haven't even rehearsed with him. I have been using to get him tracks."

This get-together with Navarro followed the original Jane's Addiction members performing a few songs back in April in Los Angeles after being honored by the magazine NME. And, to Farrell, dance music needs more than recorded beats. He prefers at least live guitar. "I asked Dave to do this [Red Rock] because we just made up. We hated each other for years. We did the NME with all the original members. And we missed each other. Dave is a wild man. I love him because he is himself. Oh, and he is the sharpest guitar player there is."

Farrell says he hopes to be back for more Bottle Rock-It events this summer. He said the vibe reminds him of Lollapalooza, the alternative festival he created, adding that he loves the Red Rock Resort setting: "You are away from the Strip, surrounded by desert. But this is still Vegas: the perfect place to party, dance, enjoy music and drink wine."


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