Free Concert Series Line-Up Announced By Fremont Street Experience

Fremont Street Experience has released its free concert series line-up.

The “Downtown Rocks” concert series was called off in 2020 due to the pandemic, but we shared back in May the band contracts weren’t canceled, just pushed back.

Now, Fremont Street Experience is sharing a list of confirmed concerts, and we hear additional concerts will be announced soon.

Fremont Street Experience concerts

When we worked at Fremont Street Experience, we added the “Your Mom” to this graphic. It’s called a legacy.

Here’s the list of free concerts at Fremont Street Experience for 2021.

googie June 26 – Chevelle (9:00 p.m., 3rd Street Stage)
googie July 4 – Craig Morgan & Clay Walker (6:00 p.m., 1st and 3rd Street Stages)
googie July 17 – Plain White T’s (9:00 p.m., 1st Street Stage)
googie July 24 – Dokken & Lynch (8:00 p.m., 1st and 3rd Street Stages)
googie July 31 – Tonic & Sister Hazel (8:00 p.m., 1st Street Stage)
googie Aug. 21 – Steven Adler of Guns & Roses (9:00 p.m., 1st Street Stage)
googie Sep. 5 – 3 Doors Down & Seether (7:00 p.m., 1st and 3rd Street Stages)
googie Sept. 25 – Generation Radio, Featuring Jay Demarus of Rascal Flatts, Deen Castronovo of Journey and Jason Scheff of Chicago (9:00 p.m., 3rd Street Stage)
googie Nov. 6 – George Thorogood & The Destroyers (9:00 p.m., 3rd Street Stage)

Fremont Street Experience has threes stages, but two are being used for the concert series. The 1st Street Stage is between Binion’s and Circa, the 3rd Street stage is between The D and Four Queens.

It’s worth noting that while many concerts in other venues don’t start on time, shows at Fremont Street Experience almost always do.

Chevelle

Chevelle spontaneously combusts on June 26.

The Downtown Rocks shows are free and open to the public, emphasis on “free.”

Which is a key bit of information when people complain about the fact the line-up doesn’t meet their lofty expectations.

Announcements of the free concerts are always accompanied by whining about how many of the bands aren’t particularly current.

We worked at Fremont Street Experience for several years, so we can shed some light on this.

First, there are two main considerations for selecting bands for the free concert series: Cost and fans.

Tonic

Tonic plays July 21. Directed by J.J. Abrams.

While the shows are free to visitors, they aren’t free. The casinos who are members of Fremont Street Experience pay for the concerts. Those casinos are: Fremont, Four Queens, Golden Gate, Golden Nugget, The D and Binion’s.

Most of the bands booked by Fremont Street Experience cost in the $40,000 to $60,000 range.

Cost is just one factor, however.

The free concerts are a marketing tool, and as such, bands are selected based upon what fans they’ll draw to Fremont Street’s casinos.

Revenue at downtown casinos is largely driven by gambling and liquor sales. So, bands tend to be from a sweet spot in the demographic they draw. Older bands draw older fans, and older fans gamble more.

The bottom line is it’s not really about how many people attend the free concerts, it’s about who.

But enough inside baseball! It’s time to free concert again in Las Vegas.

The free shows on Fremont Street are wildly popular and often draw tens of thousands of people.

We often get questions about VIP passes, so here’s what’s up. For each concert, there’s a section up front for those with VIP passes. Back in the day, Fremont Street Experience distributed them. Now, it’s the casinos, and are largely given as a perk to their best players.

If you’re looking for a VIP pass to a free concert, ask your casino host.

If you’re not in the VIP section, concerts are first-come, first-served, so arrive early and grab your spot.

George Thorogood

At 71, George Thorogood still plucks a mean White Fang. He hits Fremont Street on Nov. 6.

Be aware that surge pricing (sorry, “special event pricing) is in effect for self-park garages on concert nights. There are some workarounds, including being a hotel guest or a member of a casino loyalty club, as that often includes free parking.

Rideshare has made parking fees moot, so if you’re coming to the concerts from The Strip, just plan ahead as Lyft and Uber have been a little spotty in recent months. Again, anticipate surge (sorry, “dynamic”) pricing for rides downtown.

Another thing to be aware of are security guidelines for concerts on Fremont Street.

Within the concert footprint, there are special security measures to navigate: No strollers, no package beverages, no coolers, no chairs, no backpacks or luggage, no glass, aluminum or bottles and no weapons (real or fake).

In the past, no masks were allowed, but that’s gotten a little murky now. This typically means Halloween-style masks, not the other kind.

At the moment, masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests.

After you double down on blackjack, double up on deodorant. Fremont can get steamy during concerts.

Bags are subject to search, and there will be wanding or metal detectors in place.

At various times, Fremont Street Experience has instituted a clear bag policy for special events, although it’s unclear if that will be in place during the free concert series.

The return of free concerts to Fremont Street Experience is another reminder Las Vegas is returning to normalcy, and live music fans can finally fan with fellow fans again.

Stay hydrated. Bring earplugs. If you see something, say something. Pre-game and hang out after the shows.

Gird your cochlea, the Downtown Rocks free concert series is back at Fremont Street Experience.

Brilliant Xavier Mortimer Moves to Stratosphere

One of our favorite Las Vegas shows is moving up in the world. “Xavier Mortimer: The Dream Maker” bails from Bally’s and starts at Stratosphere on July 1, 2021.

Mortimer previously worked his magic at Magic Attic at Bally’s, and prior to that at Sin City Theater at Planet Hollywood. Both venues were recently closed by Caesars Entertainment.

xavier_mortimer_stratosphere

Gravity is so 2019.

We wrote about Xavier Mortimer back in 2016 and dubbed his show “The Best Las Vegas Show You Haven’t a Seen Yet.” We’re pretty sure that will still be the case when Mortimer launches
his show at Stratosphere.

Mortimer’s show will share the Strat’s showroom with “MJ Live,” the Michael Jackson tribute show.

Xavier Mortimer’s show is clever, wildly ingenious and utterly mesmerizing. And we’re not just saying that so he’ll include that quote in his advertising, probably.

Xavier Mortimer's Magical Dream

You’ll flip for Xavier Mortimer! Hey, you try writing hundreds of photo captions without some being dated and lazy.

In a past life, Mortimer was a Cirque du Soleil performer, and his show is a mix of music, magic, mime and mentalism.

The show inspires wonder, evokes laughter and shows off Mortimer’s seemingly endless talents throughout.

Like many Las Vegas entertainers, Mortimer was sidelined by the pandemic, but took full advantage of the downtime to build a massive online audience.

Mortimer’s Facebook page ballooned to 10 million followers, he acquired 3.3 million TikTok fans and his videos have received more than five billion views. With a “b.”

He’s appeared on shows like “America’s Got Talent,” “Masters of Illusion” and “Penn and Teller Fool Us.”

Xavier Mortimer's

Xavier Mortimer is a wonder machine.

The family-friendly show is a great value, with tickets starting at just $39. The show runs at 6:00 p.m., dark on Tuesdays. Get tickets on The Strat’s Web site.

Mortimer has refined his already fantastic show, so we can’t wait to check it out at The Strat.

You’d be hard-pressed to find another show with this much inventiveness and heart in Las Vegas, especially at this ridiculously low price.

25 Things You Need to Know About Las Vegas Right Now

Las Vegas news is coming so fast and furious, even we can barely keep up and we claim to know everything.

So, we’ve slapped together a list of buzzworthy Las Vegas news you need to know.

There will be a quiz.

1. Slanted Door Given the Boot at Forum Shops

Slanted Door was much-anticipated and opened briefly in March 2020, but in an all-too-common scenario, couldn’t navigate the pandemic, apparently.

Slanted Door closed

What might have been.

Here’s a look at the eviction notice.

Figured we’d get the suck out of the way right up front.

2. Flight Club at Grand Canal Shoppes

There’s a dart club coming to Grand Canal Shoppes in spring 2022. Read more.

3. Soulbelly BBQ Opens Downtown

Chef Bruce Kalman has opened Soulbelly BBQ in the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. Learn more.

4. Lotus of Siam Closes Due to Lack of Staffing

Many Las Vegas restaurants are having difficulty finding staff right now, and one of the best in town, Lotus of Siam, closed one of its locations due to the challenges.

Thai food in Vegas is currently 50% less awesome.

5. Illuminarium Is Coming to Area 15

It’s a mouthful, but Illuminarium is a “breakthrough global experiential entertainment company created by worldwide leaders in cinematic and interactive content, architectural and theatrical design, and venue operations.” It’s VR without the glasses. Arrives in January 2022.

We can finally afford that African safari.

6. Shin Lim Signs Multi-Year Residency at Mirage

Magician Shin Lim is back and has extended his contract with Mirage for an indeterminate period of time.

7. Mermaid Swims Return to Silverton

The mermaids at Silverton are in the swim again, a phrase you are likely to never have heard if you are younger than 30 years old.

8. Kassi Beach House Opens at Virgin

Kassi Beach House is a new Italian restaurant at Virgin Las Vegas.

Please make the food as tasty as this entrance.

9. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts Exhibit Explores Boxing History

“Leather Throwers” features works of art featuring the world of boxing. Read more.

10. Siegel’s Bagelmania Debuts

The 10,000-Square-Foot bagel shop, Bagelmania, opened near the Las Vegas Convention Center and people won’t stop talking about it despite the fact bagels are just less delicious doughnuts.

11. EDC Line-Up Announced

After some drama surrounding when EDC would be held, the music festival’s organizers landed on Oct 22-24, 2021. The line-up has been announced. It’s pretty much everyone. Get details.

Don’t hurt yourself.

12. Buffets Are Self-Serve Again

Several buffets have reopened, to the surprise of many, and they’re all self-serve again. It’s been announced the Bellagio buffet will return. The buffets currently open are:

googie Bacchanal at Caesars Palace
googie The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas
googie Garden Buffet at South Point
googie MGM Grand Buffet at MGM Grand
googie Wicked Spoon at Cosmopolitan
googie Circus Buffet at Circus Circus

13. Stadia is Open at Caesars Palace

The new sports bar, Stadia, has opened at Caesars Palace.

14. Guns ‘N’ Roses at Allegiant Stadium

Guns ‘N’ Roses are slated to play at Allegiant Stadium on Aug. 27, 2021. What could possibly go wrong?

15. Earth, Wind & Fire to Return to Venetian

Earth, Wind & Fire play the Venetian for six shows in November 2021.

16. Gwen Stefani’s Back at Zappos Theater

Gwen Stefani will play Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood from Oct. 22 to Nov. 6, 2021.

17. Sting at Caesars Palace

Sting plays the Colosseum Oct. 29 to Nov. 13, 2021 and June 3-18, 2022.

18. Shania Twain Announces 14 New Show Dates

We love us some Shania Twain and she’s announced 14 dates at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood. Check her out December 2–21, 2021 and Feb. 11–26, 2022.

19. Bryan Adams at Encore

The hits just keep on coming. Bryan Adams takes the stage at Encore Theater in Nov. 2021. He has a bunch of hits, but we’re partial to “Summer of ’69.”

20. Summer Slam

It’s some sort of sport, and it’s happening Aug. 21, 2021 at Allegiant Stadium.

Add this to the long, long list of things we don’t get.

21. Bellagio Conservatory’s New Display is Live

The always eye-pleasing Conservatory delivers another winner with its new summer display, “Eco: A Season of Earthly Awareness.”

22. Blair Witch Project Escape Room

If a blockbuster thriller and an escape room had a baby, it would be this. The Escape Blair Witch attraction opens in July 2021 and is from the same folks behind “Official Saw Escape: Las Vegas.”

Puzzle freaks have a new place to play.

23. Boyd’s Offering Free Coin Exchange

While the coin shortage has passed, Boyd’s customers apparently appreciated their free coin exchange service, so they’re offering it again.

Currency marketing, to coin a phrase.

24. Nevada Approves Cannabis Lounges

A bill has passed that allows cannabis lounges in Vegas, and about time. This is great news for weed enthusiasts, especially Las Vegas visitors who have been able to purchase cannabis but then have nowhere to legally consume it. There won’t be lounges in casinos, but expect marijuana lounges to be a growing concern in Las Vegas.

25. Tribe Buys SkyVue Site

Somebody bought the former SkyVue observation wheel site, and it could end up a hotel or a parking lot. Here’s more.

Skyvue site sale

Doing anything is infinitely better than doing nothing.

The Internet barely has enough bandwidth to hold all the Las Vegas news right now, which we love, because it means we have the perfect excuse to recommend you visit our site often for the latest updates.

“America’s Got Talent Las Vegas Live” Comes to Luxor

Luxor has found a resident show to fill the theater left vacant by the abomination that was “R.U.N.”

Described as “a celebration of comedy, music, danger and dance,” “America’s Got Talent Las Vegas Live” makes its debut at Luxor on Nov. 4, 2021.

AGT live Las Vegas

We have lots of opinions about this logo, but mostly somebody’s going to put an eye out.

In case it weren’t obvious, the show will feature acts from the long-running TV series, “America’s Got Talent.”

So, it’s a variety show, and perhaps most importantly, it won’t cost $60 million to produce (as “R.U.N.” did), so there’s that.

The new show will perform two times per night, five nights a week, and will run 75 minutes.

Performances will include thrill acts, magicians, vocalists and acrobats.

The format allows producers to swap out acts both to: 1) Give guests a reason to come back, and 2) Make sure the performers aren’t getting too big for their britches or asking for too much money.

These two skaters can name their price. They’re nuts.

Some limited-engagement special guests will also appear in the show.

We trust those limited-engagement guests could include “America’s Got Talent” alumni who went on to find success after their appearance on the popular series.

Several current Las Vegas headliners came out of the “America’s Got Talent” realm, including Piff the Magic Dragon (Flamingo), Shin Lim (Mirage) and Mat Franco (Linq). Ventriloqist Terry Fator got the boot from his theater at Mirage, but is still doing a limited run at New York-New York.

Piff

Piff was on “America’s Got Talent” 2015 and is currently kicking ass at Flamingo.

“America’s Got Talent Las Vegas Live” will show Wednesday through Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets start at $49. A VIP package, which includes and backstage tour and meet-and-greet is available starting at $159.

At 50 bucks, “America’s Got Talent” seems a decent value, and variety shows have often done well in Las Vegas. Luxor’s a good spot for a show in this price range, as Luxor tends to appeal to value-seeking visitors.

While we were unaware anyone was clamoring for a show made up of largely inexperienced and untested performers, the hope is the “America’s Got Talent” brand will assure guests of a certain quality level, and as mentioned, keeping production costs low could make this show profitable while driving new business to Luxor and its casino.

The one thing “America’s Got Talent Las Vegas Live” in its corner is it’s guaranteed to be better and more financially successful than “R.U.N.,” so there’s that.

July 4 Fireworks to Celebrate Return of Vegas to 100 Percent

When Las Vegas hosts a massive fireworks display on July 4, 2021 at 11:00 p.m., the occasion will not only mark Independence Day, but also a celebration of the return of Las Vegas following a year of unprecedented challenges.

Las Vegas returned to 100 percent capacity on June 1, 2021, including the option of fully-vaccinated folks to go maskless. (At this point, pretty much everyone’s maskless.)

The lifting of pandemic restrictions has resulted in a huge influx of visitors, despite ongoing travel restrictions from places like Canada, Europe and Asia.

New Year's fireworks

July 4 is “Pew! Pew!” time.

The July 4 fireworks display symbolizes a Las Vegas reboot, and Fireworks by Grucci will do most of the heavy lifting with pyrotechnics launched from several rooftops on The Strip.

Fireworks will be launched from Aria, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Resorts World (it opens June 24), The Strat, TI and Venetian.

In addition to the official LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) fireworks, several other casinos will host displays of their own.

Downtown’s Plaza casino will have three nights of fireworks, and locals spots like Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch and Lake Las Vegas will also have fireworks.

Here’s some sweet drone video we took at Plaza.

And, yes, we even got some exclusive drone footage at Red Rock Resort. Do you know this blog at all?

It’s anticipated Las Vegas will be filled to overflowing (as it has been most weekends recently), so plan ahead if you want to check out the July 4 fireworks.

We got lots of questions about the best places to view fireworks in Las Vegas and opinions vary widely.

The thing to remember is being close to fireworks isn’t always the best way to watch them.

Circa’s rooftop lounge, Legacy Club, springs to mind as a new way to view the fireworks. The lounge has a great view of Plaza’s display and looks directly at The Strip from a vantage point that didn’t exist prior to the casino opening in Oct. 2020.

High vantage point stand-bys include the Stratosphere tower, Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay and VooDoo rooftop nightclub at Rio.

Worth noting: While the view from Rio is sweeping, it’s underwhelming due to the distance from The Strip.

Rio fireworks view

We risked infertility for this photo, so please appreciate it accordingly.

Palms is out this year, as the resort remains closed following its sale to the San Manuel tribe. It should be an option again by July 4, 2022.

We’re a big fan of catching fireworks from in front of Caesars Palace. Better yet, get invited to their private parties for players, as the view from the pool area is spectacular (see photo above).

Any rooftop or patio bar along The Strip should provide some great views, and may offer celebratory-themed packages. Prices tend to be inflated, but remember, you’re not just paying for food and drinks, it’s the experience.

A great trick locals swear by is to view fireworks from casino parking garages, or one of the parking structures at the airport.

Security is wise to this practice, but they most frequently patrol garage rooftops, when views are great from pretty much any upper level floor. At hotel self-park garages, security is most accommodating if you flash your room key.

Parking garages may not have the same flair as other locations, but they’re preferable to sitting in traffic jams when the fireworks have concluded.

Red Rock fireworks

Red Rock Resort, about 15 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip, puts on a great show.

Besides, if you’re in a casino parking garage, that means you’re near a casino. What fun are fireworks without a post-show cocktail? Or dozen.

Wherever you decide to view the July 4 fireworks, plan ahead and arrive early. It’s a cliche that holds up and can save lots of time and frustration.

Las Vegas is ready to party, and nothing says “party” like fireworks. And rum. But mostly fireworks.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 125: Downtown Grand, Island at Ellis, Dueling Axes and More

Podcasts are radio for the cool kids, and you know damn well you want to be cooler without paying $475 for a bottle of Gray Goose at Tryst, so check out our newest episode!

In this installment, we share our experience at the pop-up tiki lounge at Ellis Island. We love this quirky new addition to Ellis Island, and hope it becomes permanent. Ellis Island has transformed the second floor of its Front Yard venue into a tropical paradise, with stand-out food, drinks and decor.

Also, we won a handpay, so there’s that.

Ellis Island tiki

You’ve got a new place to shake your wahine, Island at Ellis. Also, please don’t shake your wahine. It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

We also touch base with Seth Schorr, Chairman of the Downtown Grand resort.

Schorr shares insights about how the downtown casino weathered the pandemic, plus what’s new and what’s next for one of our favorite places to gamble and drink downtown. Mostly that second thing.

Also, we won a handpay, so there’s that.

Downtown Grand

Try and find another place with $1 blackjack. We’ll wait.

It’s no coincidence that our “Listicle of the Week” is about how to get more handpays.

“Handpays,” of course, are also known as “taxable slot jackpots.” If a player wins a jackpot of $1,200 or more, an attendant has to pay the winner by hand.

We’ll share our tips and tricks for winning more jackpots so you can enjoy the thrill of filling out tax forms during your next Las Vegas visit!

In our ongoing quest to find fun things to do in Las Vegas, we drop by Dueling Axes at Area 15. The venue, where guests throw axes, recently got its full liquor license. You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

We also have video of one of the Dueling Axes bartenders, Misha, reminding everyone why it’s important to be respectful of bartenders.

As with every episode, we begrudgingly slap together all the latest Las Vegas news so you’re up-to-date with what’s in the works as Sin City regains its footing following a year chock full of WTF.

Learn more about the fireworks extravaganza planned for July 4 weekend, Amalfi at Caesars Palace, Soulbelly BBQ downtown, dates for Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain and Lionel Richie, Illuminarium, Las Vegas restaurant week, Kassi Beach House at Virgin Las Vegas, Hofbrauhaus, Siegel’s Bagelmania, EDC’s line-up and more.

This podcast isn’t going to listen to itself, so download, stream or feel free to insert rectally. You do you.