There may be no better destination for music lovers than Las Vegas. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, nine times out of 10 there’s a chance your favorite artist is going to make a tour stop on or near The Strip once or twice this year alone. Even better, the roster of acts holding down Vegas residencies is increasingly expanding, with contemporary pop stars now sharing billboard space with veteran rock acts and globetrotting DJs.
Beyond the big names hitting The Strip, however, Las Vegas also serves as a launchpad for the next wave of award-winning acts. Longtime locals love to share stories of seeing The Killers or Imagine Dragons in small bars and dingy clubs, years before the respective rock outfits became household names. Here are five more Las Vegas bands to cross off your bucket list so you can say, “I saw them when…”
Las Vegas, and the world, needs more of the electro and disco-inspired sound that GoldBoot has been cranking out for nearly a decade. The pairing of singer Logan Lanning and drummer Bobby Lucy has produced a wave of repeat-worthy tracks in that time, most notably “Wild Feelings” off 2016’s Blackwhitegold and their infectious slow-speed rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic “A Little Less Conversation.” If we’re lucky, they’ll play both October 20, when GoldBoot opens for Superfruit and Betty Who at the Official PRIDE After Show at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Boulevard Pool.
The Dirty Hooks
Guitarist/songwriter Anthony Ratto III, drummer/vocalist Jenine Cali, and guitarist/vocalist Bobby McCall — the trio collectively known as The Dirty Hooks – reached a new career height in September when they played the final day of Las Vegas’ annual Life Is Beautiful festival. Since forming in the early part of the decade, the three-piece blues-rock outfit has released a debut full-length album (Electric Grit), a follow-up EP (Kiss the Devil and Run) and scored the coveted opening slot on a 2018 tour with legendary acts Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and The Cult.
You need only sample the lyrics of his 2013 single “Spaceship” – in which he laments the harsh realities of life and the fakeness of fame – to understand why rapper Ekoh has been anointed the king of “Heart Hop” in Las Vegas and beyond. Since dropping his debut album, Zzyzx Road (a nod to the famous Mojave Desert byway), Ekoh has become a staple of the city’s hip-hop scene, performing at venues up and down The Strip and recently garnering a headlining appearance at the inaugural Emerge Impact + Music festival. His latest full-length, The Detour, arrived in June, and the video for his newest single, “Mid-Day Funeral,” dropped just this week.
Glass Pools first grabbed the spotlight with its self-titled debut EP in 2016, but frontman Bryan Todd is no stranger to the Las Vegas music scene, having played in the bands Red Eye Radio and The Novelty Act, among others. With a sound that’s heavily influenced by New Wave, Glass Pools keeps a busy schedule of local performances – often playing The Bunkhouse Saloon and Beauty Bar in Downtown Las Vegas. Todd and fellow band members Ro Romero, Emily Sully, and Mike McDonald released their latest single, “Always I’ll Wait,” in July.
Soul singer Jessica Manalo left the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to pursue a music career and quickly began building a resume of singles and accolades – she was named “Best New Voice” by Las Vegas Weekly in June 2016 and competed that same summer in the “Road to Life Is Beautiful Battle of the Bands” competition. Manalo shines as an acoustic artist on tracks such as “Home” and “Velvet,” and her latest single, “Bedhead,” dropped in September. When not recording, Manalo is on the road, making appearances at Los Angeles’ famed Viper Room and, recently, at the Las Vegas Farm Music Festival.