The Killers 9/30/16

(a) setlist

VIP Pre-Show:

  1. Smile Like You Mean It (acoustic)
  2. Change Your Mind (acoustic)

Sam’s Town:

    1. Sam’s Town
    2. Enterlude
    3. When You Were Young
    4. Bling (Confession of a King)
    5. For Reasons Unknown
    6. Read My Mind
    7. Uncle Jonny
    8. Bones
    9. My. List
    10. This River Is Wild
    11. Why Do I Keep Counting?
    12. Exitlude

Encore 1:

    1. Under The Gun
    2. Spaceman
    3. Human
    4. Somebody Told Me
    5. Runaways
    6. All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore 2:

    1. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
    2. Mr. Brightside

(b) highlights

  • Damnnnn, people who regularly do VIP are living the life and I feel lucky as HELL for managing to do the VIP experience for this show because it was worth every penny.
  • Sam’s Town. All of it. The album, yes, but the song too. The hotel, the casino, everything it stands for and everything it gave me. There was no way I was going to miss it turning 10 years old. I saw The Killers the day it came out, so it only felt right to see it live all again a decade later.
  • getting to see the whole band together again. While I respect the hell out of Mark Stoermer and genuinely enjoy his solo work, it’s been hard to see The Killers without him. Having everyone together again made the weekend that much more special – it felt like a reunion in more ways than one.
  • it felt pretty damn cool to stay in a hotel so rich in Killers lore, walk around and hear the band everywhere (even deep cuts like “Goodnight Travel Well,” “Move Away” and “Everything Will Be Alright”), see their name and faces on everything from advertisements in McDonald’s and poker chips, to TV screens in buffets and bars. I wish every show could feel like such a circus and experience.
  • the small touches and finer details that brought everything together – handing out carnations before the show, the stage setup looking exactly the same as it did in 2006, the merchandise being reminiscent of merch sold during the Sam’s Town tour – it killed me.
  • the opening of the show with the projection screen, curtain, and everything turning into “Sam’s Town” – nothing beats those moments leading up to the band appearing behind the curtain. The music, the lights, the images of the desert and old Vegas – I get chills thinking about it. It was my favorite part of the Sam’s Town tour years ago and it was so perfect in every way at this extravaganza.
  • getting to be with all my friends and see all the people I’ve met and become friends with over the last decade. It’s amazing how we all come from all over and keep up over the years, how we’ve changed, how we’ve stayed exactly the same. It’s nice when new fans come along for later albums, but there really is something special about being with people who remember what it was like. To be with the people who were actually there. Sometimes I hold onto these distant memories of being a teenager and seeing these shows…it’s incredible to share these moments again with all those who defended Sam’s Town from the naysayers when it came out. To see that all those people still care about the album brings me an unspeakable joy.

(c) lowlights

  • every single Killers show is wry with idiotic security, disorganization, and annoying af people, but none of it ever matters by the time the show starts. The lowlights were far and few between luckily, but, ultimately, CID Entertainment can go f*ck themselves.

(d) overall thoughts

I still remember October 3, 2006 like it was yesterday. I was a couple months short of turning 16, had seen The Killers live toward the end of their Hot Fuss tour and felt tortured the entire summer of 2006 just waiting for their second album’s release. I lived in LA and the band was set to perform a short set of 6 or so songs on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and follow up the evening with a signing at the Virgin Megastore on Hollywood and Highland. What a time to be alive. The band played “When You Were Young,” “Bones,” “Sam’s Town” and a few other classics and then signed cool posters for everyone, including me and my friends. Later in the week, the band played a string of shows in LA, San Diego, San Francisco, etc. and those series of shows are ones I will never forget as long as I live. So, news leaked of a 10-year anniversary for Sam’s Town in Vegas actually at the Sam’s Town hotel? Hell yeah, we were all going.

My friends and I got super lucky and managed to get the VIP experience for Night 1 of the Sam’s Town Extravaganza, and man, that was an experience. The hotel set up a cool, small stage out by the pool, sold Killers-themed drinks and fun finger foods, gave out poker card-themed VIP laminates, big horn sheep stamps, flowers, and a bunch of other Killers’ stuff. Aside from getting early access into the venue, the coolest part of the VIP experience was getting to see the band play two acoustic songs out on that stage. While “Smile Like You Mean It” and “Change Your Mind” are by no means my favorite Killers songs, the performance felt so so special and sweet. It was amazing to see the whole band together again and the intimacy of the setting warmed my heart so much. Dave and Mark felt very present, Ronnie was in the sound, and Brandon was his semi-awkward, semi-comfortable self. We all sang the keyboard parts aloud because why not? Who knows if I’ll ever get to witness something like that again.

As for the main show itself, there’s nothing quite like Sam’s Town for me. Somehow, that album became so representative of underappreciation, fighting for the underdog, and always wanting to be something better. I’ve written extensively about Sam’s Town and its significance in the past, so I won’t bore anyone with that – but basically the one take-away from that album that I keep with me always is the idea that “Sam’s Town” can be anywhere and mean anything for anyone. It’s not really about a hotel and casino off Boulder Highway, but an idea of home – wherever or whatever that may be. So, for me, hearing Sam’s Town is like going home. As I said, watching that projection against the screen that falls as the band comes out and “Sam’s Town” begins is nothing short of magic. It was EXACTLY just as it was 10 years ago – the movie, the screen, the lights, the keyboard, the piano, the sign, the flags, the “Welcome” sign, the crow, the skeleton – everything. By the time the lights went down and everything started, I was straight up sobbing. It’s not every day someone sets up a scene to look exactly the same as one you remember so vividly 10 years earlier. It had also been about 8 or 9 years since I heard the opening track of Sam’s Town live, so I was out of my mind with emotion and excitement.

One of the standout moments of the night came from hearing “Bling (Confession of a King)” – a song that’s been in my top 3 favorite Killers songs since its release. I remember during the original Sam’s Town tour how emotional that song always made me and how I always sort of associated it with the pain I was going through at the time. During this show at the casino, it amazed me how different I felt as a person this time hearing it. “We’re gonna make it out of the fire, higher and higher, we’re gonna take it down to the wire” – the words that once invoked such pain now brought me joy and freedom. I made it out of that fire. The feeling was a bit similar to hearing Brandon sing “Will I live to have some children?” during “Why Do I Keep Counting?” at the end of the Sam’s Town portion of the set. Yes, he will live to have some children, he just didn’t know that in 2006. It’s funny to think that Brandon wrote all those words at the age of 25 – the same age I am now, writing about the experience of this anniversary show. It’s funny how things like that work out.

It was incredible to watch and hear the album in full – specifically tracks like “Uncle Jonny,” “My List,” “This River Is Wild,” and “Why Do I Keep Counting?” – and realize not only how strong every song is together, but really acknowledge the narrative and story that album tells. The Killers never outright called it a concept album, but it pretty distinctly has a beginning, middle, and end, so it felt like taking a wild ride through an adventurous life that was previously unlived. You feel different by the end, and you feel like you experienced something with all the people around you whether they knew it or not.

By the time the second half of the set rolled around, we were all exhausted but elated. Hearing “Under The Gun” and the parade of usual singles was a whirlwind. Brandon seemed at the top of his game, Mark never looked more energetic, Dave appeared fully awake in each and every moment, and Ronnie, well, we all know that dude is perfect and can do no wrong. All the lights and sounds and sights and friends made for the perfect homecoming; just like the band, we all seemed to have grown so much without changing too much at all. Even though years pass, times change, people transform and grow, we all eventually become the best version of ourselves when the lights go down. Because when the curtain falls, the band is there, and the music is right, we all go home. We go to our own Sam’s Town.

Bottom line: Sam’s Town isn’t just a perfect album because of the parts that make up its whole, but because it represents a time and a place and a feeling and a group of people who’ve found solace in its wisdom and comfort. This night of the Sam’s Town Extravaganza will forever be a special and unforgettable experience for me because it brought me together with life-long friends, touched me in ways beyond musical enlightenment, and gave me a home that I can always go back to as long as I just click “play.” Thank you Sam’s Town, and thanks to the four men that put it together.

Big Talk 5/26/15

(a) setlist

    1. Hold That Line
    2. Animal Husband
    3. What Happened to Delisa?
    4. La Rue D’Awakening
    5. Cocktail Party
    6. I’ve Been Sentimental Lately
    7. What The Night Can Do
    8. All My Luvin’
    9. White Dove
    10. The Void
    11. Another Satellite
    12. Neon’s Not Enough Light

(b) highlights

  • seeing Ronnie Vannucci play in Las Vegas is just as awesome as it sounds
  • the in-between song banter never fails to entertain: “there’s a lot of hot ladies in here tonight….onstage.”
  • the Hawaiian shirt game was very strong
  • chatting before the show was next-level amazing; Ronnie is great, Taylor is so so sweet, Brooks is so cool

(c) lowlights

  • the show started late and I had to catch a flight immediately after, so that was stressful

(d) overall thoughts

Caught a quick flight to Vegas from LA to see Big Talk again, and hot damn, was it a good time. It was hot as hell, but waiting outside was so worth it when Ronnie brought out water and snacks to the line (my heart), and definitely worth it to hang out in the courtyard pseudo-desert-garden area of the Bunkhouse Saloon. The show definitely felt like a hometown show in a lot of ways even though Ronnie hasn’t lived in Vegas for awhile, if only for all that Killers-in-Vegas history.

The setlist was exactly the same as the night before, which might sound like a bad thing, but it honestly wasn’t. Again, we didn’t have an album at this point. We pretty much had one single and that was it, so to hear all those songs again and really grasp the garage-band-y vibe of it gave more context. “I’ve Been Sentimental Lately,” “All My Luvin’,” and “What The Night Can Do” were immediate stand-outs aside from the lead single “What Happened to Delisa?” and I still dig those songs a lot to this day. The newer songs fit right in with the debut album in my opinion, even though Ronnie mentioned a couple of times that he disliked the older songs. If I had to guess, I think that opinion is mostly informed by the first album’s production; RJV was adamant about Straight In No Kissin’ having a less slick and more gritty sound to it, and the band certainly accomplished that in more ways than one. The crowd dug a lot of it and I felt very lucky to have witnessed that show.

Bottom Line: The Bunkhouse Saloon was the perfect environment for Big Talk to perform their newest album in Vegas; gritty songs with pop-y melodies fit best in dingey cowboy bars on a hot desert night.

The Killers 4/7/16

(a) setlist

    1. Midnight Show
    2. Somebody Told Me
    3. Change Your Mind
    4. Bones
    5. Shadowplay (Joy Division cover)
    6. Human
    7. Glamorous Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll
    8. Uncle Jonny
    9. Read My Mind
    10. Runaways
    11. All These Things That I’ve Done
    12. On Top
    13. When You Were Young
    14. Mr. Brightside

(b) highlights

  • literally just BEING THERE; I was outside of the venue, sitting on the fake lawn they set up in front of a screen and next to a bar; it was AMAZING
  • “Midnight Show” = first time they played it since 2007; me = DEAD
  • “On Top,” the end.
  • having just seen the band at the most memorable show ever at the T-Mobile Arena to two hours later watching them totally tear down this super tiny Vegas joint was pure magic

(c) lowlights

  • it would’ve been amazing to physically be in the bar, but I never would’ve dreamed of leaving the arena show early; I’m so glad I stayed and could even be on the Bunkhouse grounds at all, so…no actual lowlights

(d) overall thoughts

Fifteen minutes into The Killers’ performance at the T-Mobile Arena (see previous post), they tweeted that they’d be performing a midnight aftershow at the tiny Bunkhouse Saloon in Downtown Las Vegas. A couple of my friends had anticipated the band would be up to such antics, so we smiled, rolled our eyes, and had fun at the arena. Some fans left the show to get to the Bunkhouse and set up camp, but we stayed. The moment the arena show ended, we drove the 5 or so miles Downtown and found at least 500 people already in line. The space inside the physical Bunkhouse was full, but the garden area was still open with a screen to watch the inside, have drinks, eat food and all that.

Magically, somehow, by the grace of God, we got inside the garden and set up camp in front of the screen, exhausted but elated to even be there at all. I had envisioned sitting on the sidewalk and listening to the show from across the street, but this was better. How many bands in the world would go from selling out a 20,000-person venue to immediately playing a bar that barely holds 200 right after just for the fun of it? It was such a memorable night and iconic event that it almost felt damn-near magical as I lied on the fake grass, closed my eyes, and listened to songs I’ve heard a million times but never fail to excite me.


Bottom line: Everything about that night was unreal, but being a part of the band making history was the cherry on top.

The Killers 4/6/16

(a) setlist

    1. Mr. Brightside
    2. Spaceman
    3. The Way It Was
    4. Smile Like You Mean It
    5. Bling (Confession of a King)
    6. Shadowplay (Joy Division cover)
    7. Human (w/ Blue Man Group drum battle)
    8. Somebody Told Me
    9. Glamorous Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll
    10. Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry cover) (w/ Wayne Newton)
    11. For Reasons Unknown
    12. A Dustland Fairytale
    13. Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover)
    14. Read My Mind
    15. Runaways
    16. All These Things That I’ve Done


  1. Shot at the Night
  2. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine (w/ Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons)
  3. This Is Your Life
  4. When You Were Young
  5. Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley cover)

(b) highlights

  • Blue Man Group drum battle with Ronnie Vannucci, I WAS DEAD
  • by far the best production of any Killers’ show I’ve ever seen; it was festival-level production…and then some
  • just being there at the T-Mobile Arena. in Las Vegas. for the opening night. wow.
  • Jimmy Kimmel introducing the band onstage via video
  • the “Shadowplay” laser light cage
  • the Back to the Future shoutout before “Johnny B. Goode”
  • “Can’t Help Falling in Love” cover was precious and fitting
  • Ronnie Vannucci Jr.
  • the entire goddamn encore from beginning to end
  • Vegas vomitting up everything it had during “Viva Las Vegas” (Showgirls? Cirque de Soleil dancers? Wayne Newton? Carrot Top? Gigantic balloons? Amazing.)

(c) lowlights

  • watching Wayne Newton was probably the most uncomfortable performance I’ve ever seen
  • the band should’ve played “Sam’s Town” but IT’S FINE
  • crowd could’ve been better, but I’m reaching – the show was INCREDIBLE

(d) overall thoughts

In case anyone on Earth doesn’t know, The Killers are from Las Vegas and, boy, are they proud about it. I’ve seen the band a couple of times in Vegas before, but never quite like this. It was a special night. Everyone knew it was gonna be special before it even began. The trip to Vegas was like going to Mecca for me and my friends – we stopped by all the usual local Killers-related spots to do stupid things on par with going to Abbey Road and crossing the street like the Beatles-type of nonsense. We waited in line for literally two days to be front row for the show because, well, The Killers are our favorite band and they were opening a brand new arena in the town that’s been the backdrop of their music and emotional upbringing. Of course we were gonna be there. And we weren’t the only ones.

I had heard all the songs they played before, and heard all the speeches, but every song was brought to a fuller life with the jaw-dropping stage production. The towering Battle Born emblem, laser light cage, flames, confetti, balloons – it all felt so very Vegas and very The Killers. It’s funny how we often remember so many strange details of shows after they’re done – this one particular line during a song, a moment when a band member did something funny, a time when the lights looked cool – but whenever I think about this Las Vegas show, I remember all of it. I remember Brandon Flowers’ sparkling blazer lapels glistening in the lights, Ronnie Vannucci’s damn-near incredible drum battle versus three members of the Blue Man Group, Dave Keuning walking through and around the green laser lines that shot up from the floor to the ceiling during “Shadowplay,” and how Mark Stoermer uncharacteristically smiled when Wayne Newton came out to play “Johnny B. Goode.” I remember my friends’ joy catching confetti as it fell from the rafters during “All These Things That I’ve Done” and feeling the heat of the towering flames during “When You Were Young.” I remember that elation of feeling the entire crowd lift their arms and wave them back and forth, back and forth, during “This Is Your Life.” I remember how we all gleefully hit the gigantic balloons toward the stage at the Jubilee show girls and Carrot Top, who was present because…Vegas. Most of all, I remember the feeling of being part of such a quintessential Vegas show on a momentous night for the band, having formed right there in that city roughly 14 years prior. And I hope I never forget it.

Bottom line: Some shows you never forget, and this was one of them.

To check out some incredible shots by a professional and crazy cool awesome guy, photog Erik Kabik took the best pictures of the night, most of which are featured here.

Bonus Material!

Video of Ronnie Vannucci Jr. vs. Blue Man Group ❤


Halloweentown / Romance Fantasy 4/8/16

(a) setlist

The best part about seeing local Las Vegas bands led by local Las Vegas legends is that no one knows the setlist and no one cares.

(b) highlights

  • finally hearing songs I remember downloading off Myspace circa 2006
  • the Bunkhouse Saloon atmosphere: two parts broken-neon-cowboy, one part hip Downtown Vegas makes for a sweet spot
  • good ole fashion rock ‘n’ roll with a dusty country hint

(c) lowlights

  • taking photos in this venue feels impossible when the lighting is so fickle and makes every photo look exposed to UV rays; (ironic that lights were lowlights, yeah?)

(d) overall thoughts

I discovered both Halloweentown (fronted by the infamous Ryan Pardey aka the Captain aka Bad Santa [see: several different Killers’ Christmas music videos]) back in 2006 when Ryan spent his time touring with The Killers, and Romance Fantasy (fronted by Ryan’s brother Rod Pardey aka Michael Valentine [see: a wonderful b-side on an iconic Killers album]) through osmosis over the years. Romance Fantasy had a bit of a Southern California-beachy rock ‘n’ roll vibe with comforting vocals and catchy choruses – though I’m a Beach Boys fan, so I dig that. Halloweentown tapped into country soul; every song had heart and a story, if you know what I mean.

Bottom line: Loved the local cowboy vibe of the venue, the good ole fashioned rock ‘n’ roll tunes, and hope the Bunkhouse Saloon stays open for the foreseeable future.