This isn't the first time the AVA has been the first stop on what promises to be a major concert event; we got to see the Beach Boys with Brian Wilson in tow open their 50th anniversary tour at the AVA two years ago.
And while it's easy to write it off as a matter of sensible routing — the Nathanson-DeGraw tour winds its way around the West Coast for the rest of the month before heading to Nebraska and points east — we would like to think it's because we rock.
The pair played to a less than full house, sadly, but Friday's audience surely will rival even the biggest turnouts on the tour in terms of enthusiasm.
So here's what the folks who will see the pair at Vegas's Mandalay Bay tonight can expect:
Humor and personality: Matt Nathanson is a comedian hiding behind a guitar. The man can sing, that's for sure, but he's also quick with a quip including advising one man in the reserved seats to clap with a bit more enthusiasm. If that's how you are in the bedroom, he joked, you might want to expend a little more energy. And when a woman in the crowd screamed out some sage desert advice — "Drink some water!"— Nathanson responded, "Thanks mom" and took a swig from a black metal bottle at his feet.
DeGraw brings the sex appeal: Gavin DeGraw has a mean salsa move working. He shimmies and grooves as he sings songs that blend sultry blues and soul with rock leans more to the pop side. And that look he kept flashing to the audience — the man can melt a popsicle with his smile.
The songs: In addition to his singles "Wedding Dress," "Modern Love," "Run" (sans his duet partner Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland), "Kinks Shirt," and "All We Are," Nathanson gave what he said was the first live performance of his newest song "Headphones." DeGraw tapped into his catalogue including "Chariot" off his 2003 debut album, "Follow Through," "Best I Ever Had," "Soldier" and "Finest Hour." He saved his biggest hit for last: "Over You" was his encore song and one that prompted the crowd loosely filling the reserved seats and filling in a big swath of the lawn to sing along.