I’ve never had a desire to visit Las Vegas, gambling is not my thing but one night in February while I was supposed to be writing an English paper,my eyes scrolled down my computer feed and read ” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, POND, ORB live at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas.” I knew instantly I was going, I have trouble making decisions but in my defense once I am set on doing something, I see it through and this is one of those instances.
I had just received my tax return which was all supposed to go to my trip later that year to Europe, but one click and $287 dollars later my trip was decided.The show was midweek, missing more school, fuck…. but it was worth it. My parents watched me packed my bag with a frown the entire time, there she goes again choosing music over responsibilities. I’m almost positive this line up won’t happen again in the states.
I landed in Nevada in the afternoon and cabbed straight to my cheap ass Airbnb. The bare bone apartment was owned by a guy who is a club promoter and is apparently never home; the perfect host.
I was still feeling a little self conscious about going to the concert alone, that mood lasted the first few hours after landing. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I ordered take out and ate in the bathroom floor in my room. Why I did that I don’t know, sometimes I can’t even explain my behavior.
I knew I couldn’t drink on an empty stomach because I knew no one reliable in Vegas. If shit went down, it was going to be me, myself and I to rescue myself. While I am good at scraping by in sticky situations, I would rather not so I forced myself to eat the falafel. While on the floor I managed to sort out a scum bag bar with cheap drinks near the Hard Rock to have some beer before the show, there was no way I was about to spend $20 dollars a drink at the venue, hell no. I had $100 dollars to spend the whole day and a half trip to Vegas, the cheaper the better.
Then I skimmed King Gizzard’s fan page online to read the hype of that night’s show, that’s when I saw a post made by my now friend Ross. His post read “any Gizzheads want to meet up before the show for a smoke out? Hit me up.”Hallelujah! I was worried that I was just going to have good ol’ alcohol to rely on for the night but something a bit strong would be much nicer. I quickly messaged Ross to invite myself and he immediately replied back with the room number.
I pulled over my black lace dress, slapped on some make up and made my way to the Double Down Saloon that was a block away from the venue. On the outside, the bar looked like the back of a grey furniture store but on the inside it was covered in skeleton graffiti, smelled like piss, had a few broken bar stools, and one dollar bills dangling from the ceiling. The door sign greeted you with a kind ” DO NOT TAKE ANY FUCKING SELFIES HERE” and it also proudly featured another sign advertising their signature drink “Ass Juice” Classy, my kind of place.
Bathroom at the Double Down Saloon
I expected the Double Down Saloon to be a bit more happening but then I remembered it was Tuesday, not much was going on. Including the bartender, there was only three other people there: some khaki wearing dad and his friend who looked like they found this place by chance. After stumbling back from the all punk jukebox, the two middle aged bros kept pissing off the bartender by asking if he could please play anything but what was playing. One look at that jukebox and it should’ve been obvious that this place was not a place to play some Whitesnake or whatever the fuck they listenend to.I too started to get a annoyed with Tweedle Dee and Twiddle Dumb so once I got nice a drunk, I started to make my way down Tropicana Blvd. to the Hard Rock Hotel.
Once in the lobby I quickly scanned for WIFI to try to bring up the room number Ross had messaged me but no luck. The Hard Rock hotel WIFI was for customers only and for a broke ass bitch like me that meant there was no way for me to get a hold of Ross. My phone was cut off.My phone had been cut off for months and still to this day is cut off, to me a cellphone bill is a waste of money, money I could be spending to travel or for booze.
Luckily, I recognized a familiar face in the lobby, a middle aged guy named Travis who had also replied to the pre-party thread in the fan page. He didn’t strike me as a Gizzhead in his Chicago Cubs tee and dad jeans, but nonetheless he was a sweetheart and a fellow Texan. Him and I chatted about the band’s latest killer release Flying Microtonal Banana as we strolled through the lobby towards the elevator to meet the rest of the fan page group.
From a distance I spotted her, even though her silver hair covered her head as she gazed at her shoes, I knew it was her, Sinead. I met Sinead the year before at a festival called Desert Daze. I knew Sinead lived in Vegas but I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to run into her tonight or if we were even good enough friends for me to tell her I was coming to Las Vegas. The time we spoke in California was brief and I was fried out of my mind eating rice out of a pineapple. From what I remember though, she was very soft spoken and could very easily be a poster child for the heroin chic look. She has the most gorgeous icy blue eyes,was always dressed in black and had mousy demeanor. Sinead was also someone like me who traveled alone, most importantly we both loved POND.
“You ready to see POND?” I called out to her. The sound of my familiar voice shook her from her daze and she looked up at me.
“Oh hey! I didn’t know you would be here?!” she said in a french velvet whisper as I hugged her.
Sinead turned and flapped her arm towards the shy slim boy twidling his thumbs to her right. ” This is my friend Ian.”
Ian like her was also a innocent sleepy looking creature, who wore a black turtle neck sweater, a pair high water vintage jeans and some grandpa shoes, these kids could be models, seriously. I say kids because I had no idea that they had both just turned 20 until later that night, I feel so old. We decided to further corrupt the kids by convincing them to come up to the room for a smoke.
Sinead and very ugly picture of me, at Desert Daze
Travis and I decided that we better bring a little gift for Ross since he was being so generous to smoke us out. We ran into the nearby gift shop to grab some Jameson and a bottle of Malibu.Ross forgot to give Travis the room number but with just the floor number in hand all four of us decided to try to wing finding the room.
Once we stepped off the elevator onto the 12th floor a big whiff of ganja slapped my nose. “I’m pretty sure it’s that way” I laughed as I pointed to the left of the hallway.Following that dank smell led us to a door that had a sign that read “Nonagon Infinity Opens the Door” Bingo, we had found the room!Music was blasting from the other side of the door, so we knocked loudly and waited for someone to answer.
I always find it a little nerve wrecking showing up to meet someone new but those worries quickly faded when Ross swung open the door with a big smile so wide it made his eyes squint shut.
“What’s uuuuuuppp guys, come on in” he said as he waved us through the door and greeted us with hugs. Ross had long curly brown hair and spoke like a mellow surfer, only he was from Colorado. For the occasion he was decked out in tattered black vans and a banana pattern blue button up shirt as a hat tip to the album Flying Microtonal Banana.
In front of the double mirrors in the small bathroom covered in burgundy wallpaper with a black lace pattern stood Chelsea, Ross’s girlfriend and their friend Heather doing some last minute touches to their makeup. ” Hiii!!! We thought no one was coming, I’m glad you guys came!!” Chelsea said as she handed us some beers from the makeshift sink coolers they made that were filled with ice and booze. The trio drove down from Denver loaded with goodies to make sure that their first time seeing King Gizzard went off without a hitch.
Ross and Chelsea
Everyone soon piled into the room and plopped down on any open spaces on the two beds while Ross rolled several joints to go around. The small room filled with smoke as Chelsea explained to us how earlier they were lucky to meet some of the guys from King Gizzard at a liquor store. A knock interrupts Chelsea’s story as Michelle, their Vegas connect, walked through the door to deliver some party favors via one of those “friend of a friend type deals.”
The group convsersation later disbanded into small ones. Sinead and I ended up by the window. From the room view you could see the stage that was set up by the pool area where the show was going to be held, and beyond that, a view of the sun setting on the Las Vegas strip.
” Once I knew POND was going to be here, I had no choice to come, I have been in love with Nick Allbrook particulary,” I said breaking the silence while still watching the night continue to consume all the light outside.
“My favorite thing about him is that he is not afraid to blur the lines between masculine and feminine, qualities that we all posses but rarely embrace” I continued.
” Duality,” Sinead replied with a half smile as she continued to look out blankly towards the stage too, twirling her fingers through the window curtain. Her and I expressed our need to see each other again more than just for a brief moment and agreed she would come to Texas to visit. Soon Ian came to tap her on the shoulder and whisked her away to the concert, she wanted to be close to the stage when POND played and show time was nearing. I wanted to be close as well but the pre-party was too good I had to stay longer, so we parted ways.
Rails in Sin City
Travis trailed behind Ian and Sinead which left Ross, Emily, Chelsea and I left in the room. We all sat on the floor killing off the rest of the booze and rolled joints that were left. I learned quite a bit about my three new friends in that short time; Emily, Ross and Che had known each other since childhood and that Ross played guitar in a psychedelic band of his own called Black Mushroom Cult (which are actually quite good and you should check out.) Chelsea also explained how she was saving up to open her own yoga studio by making money teaching aerial and pole dancing dancing classes in Fort Collins. We got so carried away in conversation that we completely missed ORB’s set.
In a slight panic we all hop up and scatter to grab our stuff before we head out the door.
“Babe! Can you grab me a bump before we gopleasseeee?” Chelsea called out to Ross from the bathroom, ” and get Ely a bump too,” she added. Yes give Ely a bump!Amen! I had only been in Vegas less than 4 hours and already scored blow, Vegas isn’t Vegas without blow, right?
While Ross shuffled into some bags by the bed looking for the blow.Chelsea and Emily took it upon themselves to cover my boobs in glitter stickers and make me pose for a polariod picture against that oh so lusty bathroom wallpaper. Ready and huddled around the door, we passed Ross’s car key and dipped freely into the coke, in the words of Mia Wallace I SAID GOD DAMN, that went down too smooth!
The entrance to the show was as so hard to find, or maybe we were too stoned?! Fortunately, we got there in time just as POND was about to play. Che and I were holding each others hands flying over the pool stairs and darting through people until we got to the rail. I felt so wired, I felt fucking ready for this.
Naturally we ended up front of the stage by Nick Allbrook, he is like a whimsical fairy prancing back and forth; pink and purple hues floating behind him. Though Nick is tiny, when he steps on stage he commands your attention a la Prince style.Chelsea and I danced like fools the entire POND set. At times I even got a little theatrical with my hand movements reaching for the sky maybe it was the music,maybe it was the blow,it was probably both.
When King Gizzard finally played;the crowd got set on fire so much so that the meat head security guards decided to storm in and to try to rough up fans in order to break up the mosh pit. Had they never been to a concert? Do they not know people mosh at these types of shows? I accidentally bumped into one of security guards and he slammed me and several other people down to the ground. The lead singer Stu at this point had seen enough of their bullshit and stopped the show to tell the goons to get out the fuck out of the crowd.
The show ended with Stu crowd surfing into the pool and back onto a stage what a legend. I don’t give a shit if you don’t like the harder side of music, if you ever get a chance to see King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard do not pass that up!
The elevator doors at the Hard Rock Hotel the night of the show
During the mayhem of the mosh pit I lost my Colorado crew but before I could finish my thought I was distracted by the throbbing pain coming from my left toe.Disoriented, I hobbled my way to one of those poolside lounge chairs and ripped off my shoe, only to find a bloody toe thanks King Gizzard! Suddenly I feel two hands wrap around me covering my eyes. I recognized that laugh, it was Chelsea.
She pulled me back into the lounge chair and we laid there cuddling. We eventually took of another dose of magic. However that dose, was a bit too much for Chelsea and eventually she had to go back to the room and sleep it off. With my party buddy gone, I went back to my backup plan, alcohol! The bar at the Hard Rock Hotel was filled with older couples, bachlorettes, the gambling elderly and then there was me, drinking alone.
3 AM rolled around and I now found myself in the company of some exiled Mormon boys enjoying their new found freedom of the outside world along with two Australian girls who seemed to be eating up all the bullshit game the Mor(m)ons were spitting. Just when I had enough of this table of lames POND walk right past me, I almost went blank. Without hesitation I got up and went straight for Nick, who was half walking half spinning across the casino floor! “NICKKK!” I drunkenly shriek. I have met plenty of musicians I admire but never in my life have I ever acted the way I did the day I met Nick in the flesh.
Upon hearing his name, Nick turned around and I immediately hugged him. I stayed in his arms for awhile, sobbing as I told him everything I had been waiting to say, probably in a very incoherent manner. When I finally let go of him I could tell by his bloodshot glazed eyes he was either really drunk or really fucked up. ” Thank you for those words darling” he told me in his zesty Australian accent then he just grabbed my face and kissed me. I could’ve died happy in that moment. I love him so much that nothing that happened later that night is worth mentioning.
Nick Allbrook and I
For my final day in Vegas I went one one of those double decker bus tour with a bottle of Ciroc in my purse haha! By the end of the tour I was a sloppy sunburned mess who had pissed off my fellow tourists with my antics. I had to fly out that later night but I was in no mood to halt the party. With my last $30 dollars in hand and following my Lfyt driver’s advise I headed to the Ellis Island Casino for some karaoke.
I ended up striking up a conversation with some old creep who draped me in a pink boa before I hit the stage and sang an out of tune version of “Hello, it’s me: by Todd Rundgren, instantly killing the mood in the crowd whoops. That song made my feels crawl up to the surface and knowing myself, I knew that meant waterworks soon followed. Trying to avoid becoming a drunk AND crying mess I called myself a Lyft to the Airport. How I was allowed past security while stumbling about I have no idea. At one point I just remember sitting on the ground spilling all of my belongings on the floor looking for I don’t know what in my backpack while also trying to actively figure out how to lace up my sandals, I felt a black out coming on.
I got up to the Frontier Airlines counter red in the face huffing and puffing and begged the customer service agent to have mercy on me by letting me sit by the window. Either the employee was very nice or just flat out felt sorry for me and she gave me my wish. Not only was I sitting by the window, I had an entire row to myself and fell asleep in two shakes of a lambs tail.
When I landed in Austin I felt like I had just ran a marathon annnnddd I also noticed that I had pissed myself on the plane oh the horror! My sister was so disgusted and pissed off at me seeing the state I was in when she picked me up at the Airport that she bitched at me the entire way home and made me sit on a McDonald’s bag so I would get piss all over her car. This trip wasn’t perfect but it sure was fun,Vegas Baby.