Like many Los Angeles residents, Jane’s Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell remembers his first trip to Las Vegas: He won $100 playing roulette, but also recalls the sadness that he felt permeated the city.
“I would start thinking about all the people who have gambling issues and are losing their money,” he says. “And the quality of the experience for us—in those days, we were not in the lap of luxury, so our rooms had this vibe of ‘turn ’em over, grab their souls and kick ’em out the door.’”
Decades later, though, both Farrell and Las Vegas have changed. He has gone from hanging out in the less-reputable corners of the Sunset Strip to being one of alternative music’s leading voices and the founder of one of America’s great music festivals, Lollapalooza. Las Vegas, meanwhile, has evolved into a city that welcomes Farrell and his kind. The two sides come together again at Brooklyn Bowl on November 21 and 22, as Jane’s Addiction performs its 1988 debut studio album, Nothing’s Shocking, in its entirety, along with other favorite songs.
“We were odd, peculiar. That peculiarity became interest, which became adoration, which became addiction.”
“Back in the ’80s, I looked out at this sea of people [at Jane’s Addiction shows] and they were very different from the Las Vegas crowd in the ’80s,” he said. “[Vegas crowds] were business guys, convention guys—it really wasn’t a Jane’s Addiction crowd. But it’s come to be that. It’s interesting, the evolution of nightlife and entertainment. The rock group has a place in Vegas now.”
Spearheaded by “Jane Says,” the band’s first single (and still one of its biggest), Nothing’s Shocking was a shot across the bow of the music industry, an album that was smarter and more intricate than the rapidly fizzling hair-metal scene on the Sunset Strip but louder and more aggressive than the college rock world dominated by bands such as R.E.M. and The Smiths.
Sin City, though, has clearly accepted the band, and hosting five shows in 2014 focused on the same 28-year-old album may qualify as an “addiction.” Still, that will look awfully part-time if Farrell gets his way, too: He’s been working on an EDM, musical-styled “immersive theater” experiment called Kind Heaven and would like to launch it in Las Vegas in the near future.
“There’s room and there’s secretiveness in the desert,” he says. “I would like to bring a new secret to the desert. I look forward to it.”