Category Archives: Las Vegas Shows

Life is Beautiful Unfurls 2021 Artist Line-Up

Downtown’s Life is Beautiful music festival has revealed its 2021 line-up.

You remember music festivals. They’re back, finally.

Life is Beautiful happens Sep. 17-19, 2021.

Festival organizers have put together a diverse line-up of more than 60 artists, several of whom we recognize. Admittedly, we aren’t exactly the festival’s target demo.

Life is Beautiful’s line-up is touted as “transcending genres and generations.”

Life is Beautiful 2021

Green Day is the one with the Fremont Street Experience light show. See? We know music!

Top draws include Billie Eilish, Green Day, Tame Impala, A $AP Rocky, Illenium and others.

The line-up also includes Haim, Young Thug, Glass Animals, Fisher, St. Vincent, 6lack, Modest Mouse, Dillon Francis, Ludacris, Don Toliver, Lany, Brittany Howard, San Holo, J.I.D, Surfaces, Gorgon City, Earthgang, Death From Above 1979, All Time Low, Ekali, Purity Ring, Ashnikko, Shaed, Trevor Daniel, Drama, Cash Cash, Surf Mesa, Still Woozy, Noah Cyrus, Caamp, Yaeji, CloZee, Shiba San, Lost Frequencies, Emotional Oranges, Joel Corry, Remi Wolf, Celeste, Half Alive, Jamila Woods, White Reaper, Slenderbodies, Bia, Lsdream, Notd, Ant Clemons, Mob Rich, Amy Allen, Evan Giia, ford., The Backseat Lovers, Sir Chloe, Teddy Swims, Brijean, PoorStacy, Ekoh, Midnight Kids and Monoky.

Yes, it took us 20 minutes to fix all the random capitalization and self-indulgent stylistic nonsense in these artist and band names. You’re welcome.

Meerkats Las Vegas

Life is Beautiful means more weird things to see downtown.

Life is Beautiful got its start in 2013 and immediately made a splash in downtown Las Vegas, despite the festival losing money for several years (as they pretty much all do in the beginning).

The festival reportedly lost $10 million in its first three years of existence.

Organizers managed to lower costs (by booking less expensive bands) and increase sponsorship deals, so the festival is back despite questions related to the COVID-19 crisis.

LiB’s Sept. 17-19 timeframe gives the festival a bit more distance from the pandemic than EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) scheduled for May 21-23, 2021. There’s a good deal of skepticism about whether EDC will be able to stick to those dates.

Some were concerned about the future of Life is Beautiful following the death of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

Hsieh was an investor in Life is Beautiful, along with Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella (owner of EDC).

Wendoh Media owns 50 percent stake in Life is Beautiful. Wendoh was founded by Justin Weniger and Ryan Douherty, the indefatigable force behind a number of downtown venues like
Commonwealth, Park on Fremont, Discopussy and Lucky Day. He also has a sweet bar at Area 15, Oddwood.

Life is Beautiful tickets can be purchased at LifeisBeautiful.com starting March 12.

LiB mural

Life is Beautiful doesn’t must mean music, it’s also about big-ass art.

General Admission 3-day tickets are $330; VIP 3-day tickets are $685; VIP+ 3-day tickets cost $1,495; and All-In 3-day tickets will be available for $2,995.

Life is Beautiful is billed as more than just a music festival. Organizers say it “exists to build a more beautiful world, to shift perspectives and create feelings of satisfaction and well-being.”

Given the past year, delivering upon any of those noble goals makes Life is Beautiful worth the price of admission.

Because we could all use a reminder life is, actually, beautiful.

Bonus: We finally get to share our love of music with other human beings again.

Nevada Dumps 25-Foot “Moat” Rule for Shows, It’s a Big Deal

State officials have nixed a ridiculous rule that required a 25-foot “moat” between performers and audience members at Las Vegas shows.

The rule meant dozens of shows couldn’t break even, especially coupled with extreme capacity rules.

Reversal of this rule opens the floodgates for Las Vegas shows to return.

Atomic Saloon

Lots of mid-sized shows like “Atomic Saloon” are expected to return now. They should offer tickets for $69.

In other fairly common sense changes, the minimum distance between masked performers has been reduced to six feet. If performers are unmasked, they must be at least 12 feet apart.

These changes are effective immediately, or as it’s known in entertainment circles, “a substantial number of months later than they should’ve been in effect.”

A majority of Las Vegas shows have been closed for a year, a painful irony given Las Vegas is often touted as being the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

Even prior to the latest rule changes, several shows returned to the stage, with more planned,  but removal of the 25-foot rule should spark a new wave of reopenings.

And if you’ve ever tried to spark a wave, you know how difficult that can be.

A year of downtime has been tough for performers, producers, technicians and myriad others involved with Las Vegas shows. It’ll be great to see them doing their thing again, and we may even hold off on writing bad reviews for awhile just to give them a minute to regain their footing.

Emphasis on “might.” Looking at you, Gordie Brown.

Madison Square Garden Crew Hoists Huge-Ass Sphere Topper

It’s time we got around to a Sphere update.

Construction crews at MSG Sphere (that probably won’t end up being the name, as a naming rights deal is anticipated) recently lifted a 170-ton compression ring into place.

Our friends at Maverick Helicopter passed along some sweet shots of the Sphere.

Las Vegas Sphere

Get it? When we said “around” in that opening sentence, it was because the MSG Sphere is round. We’ve won a lot of awards for this crap. Srsly.

The Las Vegas Sphere (we like that a lot better than Miller Lite Sphere or whatever it’s going to be called) is an entertainment venue likely to cost more than $1.66 billion.

Yes, that’s a lot of money. It’s best not to ask too many questions.

Here’s a better look at the compression ring. The ring is 100 feet across and is 285 feet up.

Sphere

This isn’t the first time somebody in Las Vegas has put a ring on it.

To lift the huge-ass compression ring (340,000 pounds) onto the huge-ass temporary support tower, crews used a huge-ass crane, the DEMAG CC-8800.

Yes, there are crane nerds who actually care about that kind of thing. It’s possible we are one of them.

The Sphere sits behind (just east of) Venetian resort.

Sphere

It’s like a sports arena, but better because of the lack of sports.

It’s expected the Sphere will be completed in 2023, but trust us, given the project’s bumpy ride to-date (exacerbated by the pandemic), everyone’s fingers are crossed it will open period.

The Sphere was originally slated to open in 2020. Not so much.

Here’s one more look at the Sphere. Thanks, Maverick.

Sphere

A 1,000 foot bridge will connect the Sphere to the Sands Expo convention center. Bring your Birkenstocks if those are still a thing.

The Sphere project has faced a series of challenges, much of it glossed over, of course, because Vegas is always gonna Vegas.

The budget for the project has ballooned. In Feb. 2020, it was announced the cost of the Sphere would be nearly 40 percent more than initially announced. It was one of many “Nothing to see here!” moments related to the Sphere.

Construction on the Sphere was temporarily halted in April 2020.

In August 2020, MSG was hit by $3.3 million in subcontractor liens. Not a ton of money given the total budget for the project. Unless you’re one of the subcontractors, of course.

Back in December 2020, MSG took over construction of the Sphere from its general contractor, AECOM. Awkward.

Still, our bulbous entertainment auditorium continues to take shape. Here’s what it will look like when it’s done.

MSG Sphere Arena Las Vegas

“Careful.” ~The Globe Theatre

Setting aside one’s opinions about the potential financial success of the MSG Sphere (so much supply, so many questions about demand), it’s a wonderful and weird venture.

The Sphere will seat 18,000 people and its exterior dome will have 190,000 feet of LED lighting.

The interior will boast a 360-degree IMAX experience with four acres of high resolution video across the dome’s roof.

We saw this on a slot machine. Placeholder name! You’re welcome, Madison Square Garden Corp.

The space will have 157,000 speakers and some kind of acoustics technology that uses planar audio waves to direct sound to specific locations. For example, two people sitting next to each other could hear different audio without one sound bleeding into the other. Crazy talk.

It’s wild stuff and this project needs to reach completion, if you get our drift. Read more about the Sphere.

More to come!

Cavalcade of Las Vegas Shows Return to the Stage

A sure sign Las Vegas is healing, a number of temporarily closed shows are again hoisting their curtains to the great relief of performers, techs and many others who rely on these productions to pay the bills.

Yes, curtains are hoisted. That’s the technical term for it. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard stage hands shout, “Hoist the curtain, matey!” Look, it’s in a blog, so it has to be true.

For starters, “Absinthe” reopens March 17, 2021 at Caesars Palace. Two other productions from the same production company, “Opium” and “Atomic Saloon,” are still on hold.

Absinthe balancing act

Reopening shows is a balancing act, but we’re ready to awe again.

Live entertainment has been hard hit by capacity limitations. For several months, audience sizes have been limited to 50 people due to the COVID-19 crisis. This made profitability pretty much impossible, so shows decided to go dark.

Another deal breaker for many shows was a 25-foot “moat” required between performers and audience members. Don’t get us started.

Now, capacity limits are increasing, so shows are reopening, especially after March 15 when the next phase of loosening restrictions kicks in.

Several shows have already relaunched. Carrot Top and “Fantasy,” a pair of must-see shows, are already welcoming guests at Luxor.

Carrot Top

You can bet Carrot Top has some pent-up funny.

Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand reopened Feb. 15, 2021.

“Thunder From Down Under” at Excalibur reopened Feb. 15 as well.

“Piff the Magic Dragon” and “X Burlesque” are open at Flamingo.

Piff

Piff is thrilled to be back. Yes, this is Piff’s thrilled face.

“X Country” and “Tape Face” are tickling their respective fancies at Harrah’s.

As for what’s coming up, let’s go!

“Australian Bee Gees” are back March 15, 2021 at Excalibur. Just trust us and see this one.

Australian Bee Gees

The “Australian Bee Gees” are expert spirit-lifters.

“MJ Live” at The Strat is back March 18, 2021.

David Copperfield returns March 21, 2021 at MGM Grand.

Terry Fator’s limited engagement happens at New York-New York next month as well.

A number of shows in the V Theater are expected to return in early March, including “V, The Ultimate Variety Show,” Nathan Burton Comedy Magic and the beloved Gregory Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theater (photo below).

Gregory Popovich

Dogs into it. Cats over it. Things are definitely getting back to normal.

Scheduling and capacities are still tricky with these shows, so plan ahead and reserve your tickets in advance.

All are adhering to the mask and social distancing mandates, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Nevada’s COVID-19 case counts have fallen dramatically in recent weeks, and it’s going to be a great summer in Las Vegas.

Live entertainment provides jobs for thousands of people, and it’s great to see the world of Las Vegas entertainment springing back to life.

The world is ready to let loose again, and Las Vegas is just the place to do it.

Rumor Mill: Las Strip Casino Gets “Hamilton” as Resident Production

We love a good rumor, and this is a juicy one.

We’ve heard from well-placed sources “Hamilton”—the long-running, critically-acclaimed musical—is coming to a major casino resort on the long-running, critically-acclaimed Las Vegas Strip.

While it hasn’t been officially announced, chatter is the Broadway hit will land at a Caesars Entertainment resort.

Buzz has “Hamilton” coming to Paris Las Vegas. Unconfirmed and whatnot.

Hamilton Las Vegas

Remember, rumors are like politicians: Take them with a grain of salt.

Paris last had a successful Broadway-style show (or any successful show) with “Jersey Boys.”

“Jersey Boys” had an eight-year run, but closed on Sep. 18, 2016, after a respectable 3,300 performances.

Jersey Boys Paris Las Vegas

Vegas misses you guys.

Since then, the theater at Paris has hosted a number of sometimes good but ultimately doomed shows, including “Circus 1903” and “Inferno.”

Oh, and let’s not forget “Marilyn,” the show that sent us a cease-and-desist for saying the show was closing. Right before the show closed. Welcome to the world of Las Vegas entertainment.

Another theater that’s been generating buzz, we know because we started the buzz, is the “Le Reve” theater at Wynn.

We’ve heard there’s some big entertainment news brewing at Wynn, but we aren’t at liberty to share details just yet. Don’t make us ruin every surprise.

Wynn is apparently making a big investment in revamping the “Le Reve” theater following the show closing during the pandemic.

“Hamilton” would be a great fit for either theater, but our contacts are leaning toward Paris as the ultimate home for this cultural phenomenon.

Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower

Alexander Hamilton never went to Paris, but his musical might.

One source said the ink isn’t dry on the deal yet, which makes it all the more fun to be the first to share it.

Look forward to the Las Vegas Review-Journal confirming our scoop soon, replete with copious attribution, of course. (Just like they broke the news Celine would have a residency at Resorts World, a year after we first shared the story.)

We reached out to Caesars Entertainment for comment on the “Hamilton” rumor, but haven’t heard back yet.

While we aren’t really a Broadway show person, Las Vegas is ready to come roaring back when pandemic restrictions are lifted, and “Hamilton” has a ready-made audience that’s going to devour its unique blend of history, rap and woke.

Broadway musicals have a spotty history on the Las Vegas Strip, but this feels like a winner for the Las Vegas casino that’s rumored to have landed the deal.

Criss Angel and Franco Dragone Announce Something

You can tell Las Vegas is healing because performers like Criss Angel are starting to send out baffling news releases again.

Today, the longtime Strip magician (sorry, “magic’s most celebrated visionary”) Criss Angel announced he’ll be collaborating with Franco Dragone on something.

Sorry, “Franco Dragone, the creative mastermind behind world-renowned entertainment productions including ‘O,’ ‘Mystere’ by Cirque du Solei (sic), ‘Le Reve’ and Celine Dion’s ‘A New Day.'”

This is the first collaboration between Angel and Dragone and everyone involved is very excited about whatever the project might be.

Honestly, we have no idea because the announcement was light on details.

Criss Angel

We get the feeling Criss Angel frequently asks to speak to a manager.

The project, dubbed “Mr. Smiles & Molly,” is scheduled to open later in 2021.

We trust this is a show of some sort, and that it involves Ecstasy, but other than that, all we get is buzzwords.

Las Vegas performers never let a lack of information get in the way of an announcement.

According to the announcement, “Mr. Smiles & Molly” will be an “Interactive Immersive Euphoria.” Remember, everything’s more exciting in title case.

Our heart goes out to the P.R. firm forced to include that wording in the news release, although it’s an undeniable gift from the comedy heavens for snarky blogs and Twitter accounts. Allegedly.

Also a gift is this chat between Angel and Dragone we estimate you’ll watch three minutes of, tops.

As for the big announcement, to presumably clarify, Dragone says the “new surreal pre-night club experience” will be a “bold fusion between the world of electronic music and theatre.”

Aha, electronic music. Told you Ecstasy would be involved! Confirmed!

Also, what is a “pre-night club experience”? If it’s a “pre-night club experience,” is it even technically a show? Is it something you do before night? Did Dragone mean “pre-nightclub experience”?

So many questions, so little interest in the answers. Still, we like new things, so we’ll have to keep an eye on this one, whatever it might actually be.

Nobody can say Criss Angel doesn’t constantly look for new ways to keep his “brand” relevant. While Angel’s time in Las Vegas hasn’t been without challenges (his show at Luxor closed in 2018, presumably due to lagging ticket sales), he’s managed to survive in a competitive entertainment market.

Criss Angel

Criss Angel had a drama-filled public feud with Cirque, Dragone’s former stomping grounds.

Hitching his wagon to Franco Dragone, a creative force of nature with a solid track record, certainly won’t hurt Angel’s chances of a successful venture, no matter where it might land.

Dragone has kept busy during the pandemic redefining entertainment or whatever.

Our prediction: The collaboration between Criss Angel and Dragone is going to result in a metric buttload of glorious WTF.

While we love to poke fun at Criss Angel, partly because he’s got all the charisma of pudding skin (not to mention his lackeys blocked us on Twitter), the magician has a lot of die-hard fans who will no doubt be excited to hear Angel could have yet another trick up his celebrated visionary sleeve.