Westward Ho | Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Westward Ho 

Laughs, craps and sass at the new Peppermill Concert Hall in Wendover.

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My new cable TV high had finally started to wane. It was time to dust myself off and leave the house. The question was: Could I leave my stories behind for a single night in Wendover, Nev.?


My slot finger was itchy, full of the anticipation that comes before losing copious amounts of money'something I’m damned good at. My parents always said, “Las Vegas doesn’t look that way because everyone is winning.” Wise words, but the rationalizer in me thought: Wendover is smaller than Vegas, so there’s bound to be more to gain.


After a westward hour-and-a-half drive of saltwater and dirt scenery, I checked into the Montego Bay Resort. I entered my room and was greeted by a television the size of King Kong … begging to be turned on. No time for that, though: My reason for being here, aside from gambling, was to check out the new Montego-adjacent Peppermill Concert Hall, tonight headlined by the Smothers Brothers.


This $19 million luxury monster opened in July; it holds up to 1,000 people with movie theater-style seating. Unlike your favorite dollar theater, the seats aren’t sticky and there are cup holders attached to your seat. No more worries of knocking over your neighbor’s drink in a fit of rocking out too hard.nn

For an average ticket price of about $20, you can see acts like REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Neil Sedaka, ZZ Top (all coming soon; schedule at WendoverFun.com) and, of course, the Smothers Brothers. That’s cheap'sans travel gas'considering most concerts in Utah are starting to inflate in price'and here I don’t have the option of going out afterward and blowing all my money on gambling.


The most I knew about the Smothers Brothers was that they were a sibling comedy duo (hence Brothers) with the last name Smothers (hence Smothers) who started their career spoofing folk songs in the late ’50s. They’ve toured consistently for a staggering 48 years, I learned later that night. I also noticed that the closest person to my age in the room was about 20 years older. Holy generation gap'was I going to “get” this?


With what comedy has become today, it’s difficult to find a balance between filthy humor for shock laughter and benign sitcom canned laughter. Tom and Dick managed to make crass jokes without even seeming like they were'whatever happened to subtlety, anyway?


I had no idea that they’re also quite political, but not pushy or angry about it. They launched into a song in a foreign language; Tom intentionally threw it off, Dick asked why he was ruining the song. Tom said that Dick Cheney called him and told him he had to trash it because it was a different language, which could mean there were terrorist threats in it, so that he was saving America.


This pseudo-political discourse went back and forth for about five minutes; the older crowd seemed uneasy, but my friend and I were laughing hysterically. The material didn’t seem dated, and had a mischievous innocence about it. Later in the show, a video montage made things clearer: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was cancelled in the ’60s because, then, they were too edgy and political for prime time. Today, well, they’ve still got it.


Now for my own montage'of gambling: Blackjack. Lose. Slot machine. Nearly calling gambling hotline. Then winning $400 on slot machine. Realizing the magnificence of making 1,500 quarters out of 20. Not knowing how to work a cell-phone calculator. Craps table calling. Quadrupling our bets. Blackjack again. Craps again.


Oh, and bring comfortable footwear: Security frowns on sliding your shoes off for five minutes when they start digging into your flesh. I received a stern talking to. Quickly oblige'they don’t like sass and will stand there, staring with fierce intensity, until those heels are back in place. What happens in Wendover stays on your feet, apparently.


Bed and TV by 4:30 a.m. Thank you, Peppermill! Good night! I’ll be back for Foreigner.

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