Monthly Archives: July 2015

Bunkhouse Saloon Closes in Downtown Las Vegas

The baffling news just keeps on coming from downtown Las Vegas. The latest: Live music venue Bunkhouse Saloon has closed.

The Bunkhouse Facebook page shared this statement about the abrupt closure: “The Bunkhouse Saloon regrets to announce that we have closed our doors, effective immediately. Ticketholders for future shows will be contacted by Ticketfly regarding refunds. On behalf of our staff, management, and production team we would like to thank every artist who graced our stage and every person who visited us for a show or a cold beer. You made Bunkhouse something we will never forget.”

Bunkhouse Las Vegas

We have no idea why Bunkhouse closed. This is the best one we could fabricate on short notice. (a subsidiary of Vegas Seven magazine) says some currently-scheduled shows may proceed as planned.

Here’s a look at the shows, some of which may still happen. Or not.

Bunkhouse Las Vegas

Numb Bats and Rabbit Hole should play together sometime, if you get our drift.

It’s also being reported “several new operators” have expressed interest in taking over the venue.

Not to be confused with The Venue (unrelated to Bunkhouse), of course, a new “multifunctional facility” near the Downtown Container Park. Which we just today noticed is looking like a real thing.

The Venue

Yes, it’s really called The Venue. Stop your sniggering. (Look it up before you say something mean about us in social media.)

Bunkhouse Saloon was a beloved live music venue, although apparently not beloved enough to make it a viable business. Downtown Project purchased Bunkhouse for $1.4 million in 2013. Downtown Project has operated Bunkhouse for about a year. The closure of Bunkhouse follows rumblings that Downtown Project is becoming increasingly impatient with its business endeavors and partnerships that aren’t turning a profit.

Bunkhouse closes on the heels of the shuttering of another beloved bar, Insert Coins (unrelated to Downtown Project), Bar + Bistro restaurant and a clothing boutique, Coterie (a Downtown Project joint). Here’s a list of Downtown Project endeavors.

There seems to be a consensus that the recent string of downtown closures has to do with “growing pains,” including increased competition in the area. It’s also been suggested each lacked “various keys to business success.” Read more.

We’ll keep an eye on all things downtown to see how all the recent changes shake out. If you hear anything juicy, let us know. We hate hearing news from other Web sites. It’s embarrassing.

Rumor Confirmed: MGM Resorts Releases Details About New Monte Carlo Theater

MGM Resorts has been kind enough to confirm a story we broke weeks ago, and this blog is currently experiencing a renderingasm.

Back in June, we reported rumblings about a new 5,300-seat concert venue at Monte Carlo, and now we’re getting our first official look at the impressive venue. We may have swooned. And we don’t tend to be a swooner.

Listen to our interview on KNPR radio about all the latest.

Monte Carlo theater

Unlike too many Las Vegas renderings, this one’s actually happening!

MGM Resorts has announced the “approximately 5,000-seat theater” will have a “robust calendar featuring special engagements by many of the music industry’s most-celebrated performers.” Translation: Gird your loins, Colosseum.

The new Monte Carlo theater (unlikely to be named that, as Monte Carlo will undergo a major rebranding before the theater opens) will be adjacent to The Park, a Linq Promenade-style shopping and entertainment district, and 20,000-capacity MGM-AEG arena being built behind New York-New York.

The new theater at Monte Carlo is expected to cost $100 million.

Bill Hornbuckle, President of MGM Resorts International, and this blog’s winner of the “Best Casino Company Executive Name, Ever” award, says about the new Monte Carlo theater, “This new theater will enable us to host performers in Las Vegas who we previously haven’t had a home for, broadening our entertainment offerings and providing the opportunity to expand those relationships to our properties around the globe.”

Which means two things. One, popular artists are about to get a windfall thanks to the upcoming bidding wars. Two, Duran Duran will finally have a home in Las Vegas! (Hey, we can dream.)

We’re going to predict the first major coup for the new Monte Carlo theater will be Adele. For months, it’s been rumored she’ll sign on for a $40 million, two-year residency in Las Vegas. The new theater at Monte Carlo would be a great fit. Another clue Adele will perform a residency at a rebranded Monte Carlo? She has a young child. Divas love not having to be on the road, and a Vegas residency means stability and more time with family while raking in the big bucks.

The Park Las Vegas

We fully admit we want to lick this rendering. Is that wrong?

The Park and arena are expected to open in April 2016, while the Monte Carlo theater is set to debut at the end of 2016.

The new theater at Monte Carlo means a couple of existing shows will be moving, confirming reports by our bud, John Katsilometes.

Blue Man Group will move to Luxor this fall. The show originally opened at Luxor, way back in March of 2000. It began its run at Monte Carlo in October of 2012. Blue Man Group’s contract has been extended through 2025, possibly to compensate for being booted from Monte Carlo.

Blue Man Group moves into the venue that’s home to Jabbawockeez, so Jabbawockeez will move into the newly-renovated theater currently occupied by Beacher’s Madhouse. Beacher’s Madhouse will continue doing its thing on Saturday nights.

The renderings of the new arena, The Park and Monte Carlo theater are absolutely gorgeous, and the energy on this part of The Strip is already being transformed into a destination likely to be as vibrant as MGM Resorts’ news releases say it will be.

The Park Las Vegas

Construction of The Park is moving at a brisk pace. It even has these things.

New restaurant and bar offerings continue to come online, like the excellent Tom’s Urban and over-hyped Shake Shack, and while there remain some logistics yet to be hammered out (like traffic and parking), the new MGM-AEG arena will alter this part of The Strip in a dramatic way, especially if rumors of professional sports franchises come to fruition.

It’s an exciting time for MGM Resorts and for all of us who love Las Vegas.

Mirage Volcano Slashes Showtimes to Save Some Bucks

The Mirage is cutting back on its free volcano shows, bigtime. The cost-cutting measure means you’ll have fewer chances to see one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.

The volcano show at Mirage opened in 1989, when offering lavish free spectacles was used to lure gamblers into Las Vegas casinos. The Mirage volcano underwent a renovation in 1996, and was closed for most of 2008 while it underwent another renovation, at a cost of $25 million.

Mirage volcano

The schedule changes means 67% fewer fireballs! We’d get more upset about this, but we’re a lava, not a fighta.

The Mirage volcano was designed by a company called WET, the same firm that designed the Bellagio fountains. The all-caps company name is less annoying when you discover it stands for “Water Entertainment Technologies.”

Here’s the skinny on the new Mirage volcano schedule. The volcano will erupt at 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, there will be an additional 10:00 p.m. show.

The volcano showtimes have been cut back from happening every half hour, 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. If you hurry, you can still pretend that’s the case because the Mirage Web site’s metadata hasn’t been updated.

Thanks to our friends at Las Vegas Advisor for the tip about the change in showtimes.

The cost-cutting at Mirage is reminiscent of when Treasure Island, also in the MGM Resorts family of hotels, sent its “Sirens of TI” to Davy Jones’ Locker (read more), replacing it with a CVS. The sexiest of the pharmacies, we might add.

Mirage lagoon

Even without the pyrotechnic razzmatazz, it’s still a lovely lagoon. Get used to seeing it this way.

So, why would Las Vegas resorts cut back on free attractions? Because they can. Or think they can. (We’re counting down the minutes until The Mirage claims cutting back on showtimes is done because it’s part of a green initiative to save energy.)

Mirage says it will monitor visitor reactions to the schedule change. Translation: “We’ll see if fewer shows has any impact on revenue, but switching back is about as likely as bringing back coin-operated slot machines or Siegfried & Roy.”

Las Vegas has changed a lot over the years, and resorts are relying less and less on free attractions to distinguish themselves. While casino revenue used to subsidize such attractions and spaces, now, every square inch of a resort has to make money, or it’s downsized or removed altogether. The park-like area outside Bally’s, for example, was replaced with Grand Bazaar Shops. Which will also feature, wait for it, a CVS.

There are still lots of free things to do in Las Vegas, of course. And you can still catch the Mirage volcano doing its thing, just less often.

We should probably resign ourselves to the fact eruptions happen less frequently as time goes by. If you get our drift.

If the news about reduced Mirage volcano shows bums you out, we suggest you console yourself with shots of Fireball. See what we did there?

Imagine Dragons Featured in New Light Show at Fremont Street Experience

It’s been awhile, but Fremont Street Experience has unveiled a new light show on its massive Viva Vision screen, “Imagine Dragons – Home in Vegas.”

The new, six-minute show features three of the group’s hits, “Radioactive,” “Demons” and “Shots.”

Imagine Dragons light show

It’s five football fields of Imagine Dragons. Because just about everything seems to be measured in football fields for some reason.

Here’s a peek at “Radioactive,” the single which holds the record for being on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart longer than any other in history. Yeah, we didn’t believe it either, but apparently it’s true.

The new Viva Vision show, done in collaboration with Imagine Dragons and multi-media company Moment Factory, joins other shows highlighting the work of popular bands, including “Heart – Crazy on Vegas,” “Bon Jovi – Wanted in Vegas” and “The Who – Miles Over Vegas.” (Starting to see a pattern here?)

Given that we work at Fremont Street Experience as our day gig, we’re more than little excited to have a new show to talk about. The most recent addition to the line-up was The Who’s show which made its debut in 2013. Yes, we were there when it launched, because that’s how this Las Vegas blog rolls.

Imagine Dragons Viva Vision

During “Radioactive,” watch for downtown hotels integrated into the cityscape. We personally took the hotel photos used in the sequence. It ain’t bragging if it’s true.

Imagine Dragons have a special connection to Las Vegas, and downtown, as they performed a number of their early shows in venues like Bunkhouse and Beauty Bar on Fremont East. The band is often described as being from Las Vegas, but actually formed in Provo, Utah.

The band recently made headlines with a Grammy appearance they performed on a pop-up stage on Fremont Street near the El Cortez casino.

Imagine Dragons

During the song “Shots,” keep an eye out for digitized versions of Imagine Dragons.

The visuals in the new Viva Vision show range from surreal to the dystopian, with special care taken to exploit the unique screen size and shape (it’s arched, technically a “barrel vault canopy”).

The show was custom-made for the Viva Vision screen, the second largest video screen in the world (after Harmony Times Square in Suzhou, China), by Montreal-based Moment Factory.

Moment Factory

Moment Factory motion designer Charlotte Risch tweaks the Imagine Dragons light show prior to its premiere. The show was directed by L.A.-based Jesse Lee Stout.

Moment Factory built a virtual replica of the Viva Vision canopy to run simulations of the Imagine Dragons light show before its debut. Hopefully, Moment Factory will leave the simulator live. It’s a blast.

Viva Vision simulator

We’ll admit to having just blown two entire hours playing with the Viva Vision simulator thingy. Don’t judge.

Moment Factory has done innumerable large scale media installations around the world, and have worked extensively with Cirque du Soleil, including the Beatles Revolution lounge inside Mirage Las Vegas.

Moment Factory has also produced visuals for the Celine Dion show at Caesars Palace and Light Nightclub inside Mandalay Bay.

Imagine Dragons Las Vegas

In this segment, the visuals create the illusion of flying. Given the number of slushy drinks on Fremont Street, that’s pretty much the case for a lot of people, anyway.

Here’s a moment from “Demons.”

“Imagine Dragons – Home in Vegas” will now be added to the Viva Vision show rotation, playing free each night at 9:00 p.m.

The show is expected to have an official launch, with an appearance by Imagine Dragons band members, within the next few months, possibly around the time of the Life is Beautiful music festival, Sep. 25-27, 2015. The band headlines Life is Beautiful along with acts like Duran Duran, Stevie Wonder, Hozier, Snoop Dogg, Weezer, Kendrick Lamar, Brandon Flowers and others. But mostly Duran Duran.

Imagine Dragons anagram

Having trouble picking our favorite anagram for Imagine Dragons, so you pick one: Senior damaging, marinading egos or gonad migraines.

While we wish the new Imagine Dragons Viva Vision show included “I Bet My Life,” the band chose not to use it for whatever reason. The song did play on the Viva Vision canopy, though, when the single was released in December, 2014. See it here.

Here’s a look at the segment with “Shots.”

Imagine Dragons are currently on tour in support of their album, Smoke + Mirrors. Their average ticket price is $137.32, but you can check out three of their hits free at Fremont Street Experience in “Imagine Dragons – Home in Vegas.” Say “hello” if you drop by. You can frequently find us roaming Fremont Street, poking our nose into places we shouldn’t, donating to various Top Dollar slot machines and pushing our liver to its limit.

Here are a few more shots (see what we did there?) of the new Imagine Dragons light show at Fremont Street Experience.

Imagine Dragons Viva Vision Show

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Today’s Security Breach: Downtown’s Flippin’ Good Burgers & Shakes

There’s not much to see inside Flippin’ Good Burgers & Shakes in downtown Las Vegas at the moment, but we’ll take whatever forward movement we can get.

This new, 3,000-square-foot offering in the Fremont East district will open in the space formerly occupied by Uncle Joe’s Pizza and Kabob Korner.

Flippin Good Burgers

Flippin’ Good Burgers & Shakes will have a “modern farmhouse interior,” with seating for 75.

At least some of the anticipation around Flippin’ Burgers has to do with the fact the owners are Keith Grossman and Andrew Donner. The pair opened and once operated Triple George Grill, one of our favorite downtown restaurants, across from Downtown Grand.

The new restaurant was supposed to open in June 2015, but is now shooting for sometime later this summer. Note to Flippin’ Good Burgers: Summer officially ends on Sep. 22.

The restaurant’s banner has been removed, so we take that as progress as well.

Flippin' Good Burgers

The only constant in Las Vegas is change. And cleavage. And change isn’t even all that constant.

The restaurant’s owners swear there won’t be a freezer or microwave in the place, although there will be frozen things. Beyond the burgers, Flippin’ Good will serve up custard shakes, malts, floats, cones and other frozen treats. Read more.

We’re looking forward to a new In-N-Out-style burger joint downtown, although some of the best burgers in Las Vegas are already being served nearby, at Binion’s and El Cortez, and at great prices.

Let’s flippin’ get this place opened, shall we?

Downtown’s Insert Coins Closes, Owner Says It’s Temporary, Don’t Hold Your Breath

Insert Coins, a unique combination of video arcade and nightclub, has closed on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. first reported the news, quoting owner Christopher LaPorte as saying the closure is temporary, but from what we can tell, this one has wishful thinking written all over it.

Insert Coins

Hopes were high for the Insert Coins brand. An expansion to Minneapolis lasted about a year before the operation was sold.

LaPorte says the closure is due to “a rapidly changing DTLV business environment.” Which is odd, since the business environment in downtown Las Vegas appears to be thriving, with a slate of new restaurants and bars opening just in the last few months.

But the boom in downtown watering holes could be part of the reason Insert Coins closed. Could this be a sign Fremont East has hit a saturation point for bars and restaurants? And is the trouble limited to bars? We hear downtown boutique Coterie, across from Insert Coins, recently closed, too.

LaPorte has said publicly business has been challenging due to “the concentration of bars along Fremont Street.” He’s also said, “Market share has definitely been cut to pieces. There are not enough people to split among all of us. There’s very little residential. Parking isn’t as easy here.”

LaPorte also mentions Insert Coins encountered “financial challenges over the past year that we cannot currently sustain.”

Insert Coins Las Vegas

Insert Coins opened in 2011 and boasted not only DJs, but also a sizeable collection of classic arcade machines and game consoles.

We’d heard no rumblings Insert Coins was in trouble, but we do know one thing for certain: Financially successful establishments in Las Vegas don’t close, unless it’s to expand. This definitely isn’t that.

Here’s the full statement from Insert Coins, including the requisite obfuscations and annoying parenthetical affectation: “Due to a rapidly changing DTLV business environment, Insert Coin(s) will be temporarily closing its doors. We are immensely proud of our four and a half years being a landmark for Downtown Las Vegas and our numerous philanthropic contributions made to the Vegas community at large. Being a part of the transformation of Downtown Vegas and enduring the highs and lows of these changes, we thank you for allowing us to present the Insert Coin(s) brand as the unique combination of videogame and nightlife entertainment that we never lost belief in. Unfortunately, that commitment to the brand and the DTLV economic environment have resulted in financial challenges over the past year that we cannot currently sustain. We will continue to work to bring back to the community the Insert Coin(s) brand that you loved and we thank you again for your patronage and support as your favorite videogame and music venue.”

It’s been reported “a notice was attached to the business’ front door signifying an eviction.” Also, “The notice states a landlord complaint was made, though, details were not specified.” Matter, meet crux. This is the part where you should probably ignore the official statement. We almost always do.

Notice? Naturally, we stopped by for a pic.

Insert Coins eviction

Insert Coins’ sticker of shame.

Insert Coins was a refreshing twist on the typical nightclub or lounge, and seemed a good fit for the booming Fremont East district, so we’re sorry to see it go.