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Billie Eilish energizes iHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas

Updated September 21, 2019 - 9:28 pm

Billie Eilish called it out from a stage that was warming up.

“I want everybody to jump!” the rising pop star shouted Saturday afternoon on the Las Vegas Strip. “If I can do it, you can do it!”

The crowd at Las Vegas Festival Grounds for iHeartRadio Music Festival’s Day Stage dutifully hopped, right along with the 17-year-old singer/songwriter making her second Vegas festival appearance within 24 hours. Eilish he also performed at Life is Beautiful on Saturday night.

Eilish’s performance was a highlight in the iHeartRadio Music Festival outdoor show, tucked between the two night-time productions at T-Mobile Arena. The lineup was further peppered by Maren Morris, Juice Wrld, Old Dominion, H.E.R, Zara Larsson, CNCO, Brett Young, Fletcher, Monsta X, Bryce Vine, Lauv and Loud Luxury.

Collectively, that group helped regenerate the festival atmosphere at the Festival Grounds, or LVFG for short — you can now see that logo on merchandise on the site. The turnout was strong, 22,000, a bit below prefestival prognostications but more than double last year’s event on the same weekend with a similarly stellar lineup.

Expect LVFG to become an even more prominent player on the national festival scene as Las Vegas Village, site of Daytime Stage prior to the Oct. 1 shootings, is being turned into a community and athletic center and parking lot.

Today, parcel owner MGM Resorts International’s outdoor festival focus is squarely on the LVFG site. The next large-scale, multiday festival, Day N Vegas, runs Nov. 1-3 with J. Cole, Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar headlining.

“We’re looking at 60,000 a day for Day N Vegas, and we will be knee deep in that event,” said Daren Libonati, MGM Resorts’ vice president of festivals and entertainment, during the event Saturday. “We think it will be the premiere site in Las Vegas because of its location, size and ease to move around the venue.”

Libonati said that interest remains from his company to possibly stage a Las Vegas outpost of the annual Kaaboo “mixperience” festival, which draws upward of 125,000 fans and has been held at Del Mar Fairgrounds in California since 2015. Just this week, Virgin Fest, the festival arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin brand, bought the festival. (Branson’s company, of course, is in partnership with JC Hospitality at Hard Rock Hotel, which will be rebranded as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in November 2020.)

The main Kaboo festival will move to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, beginning in 2020, but a Kaboo-branded event could be staged in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts has already been a hospitality partner at the Kaboo festival in Del Mar, with installations promoting such amenities as the Aces of Comedy series at the Mirage and Jewel nightclub at Aria.

“Kaaboo has been a wonderful partner for a long time prior to the Route 91 festival and we continue to talk and communicate,” Libonati said. “It really comes down to, who wants to play the risk and put up the money. We look for partners who want to be partners. We just haven’t gotten there yet.”

Libonati said it would be 2021 or 2022 before a Kaaboo Vegas event would open on the Strip. The Kaaboo festival consistently sells out at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, but has experienced mixed results with two events that debuted this year.

A three-day event at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in May was a box-office flop and there are no announced plans to return. A two-day show in March in the Cayman Islands is sold out, but a second Cayman show was canceled without explanation.

Whether or not that festival makes it to Las Vegas is still to be sorted out. The next scheduled event of any kind is the USA Today Wine & Food Experience on Oct. 26.

“This place can be whatever we want it to be,” Libonati said. “That’s the beauty of it.”

New stage at Park MGM

A stage for open, free, live entertainment is moving in to Park MGM on Oct. 26 in front of the new Mama Rabbit bar. The music should blanket the casino, serving as a soundtrack for folks waiting to enter Park Theater.

The Green factors

Green Day as a Las Vegas resident band make sense artistically, but financially is another matter. The band is going to be making what concert bookers refer to as “sick arena money” on its upcoming “ Hella Mega Tour,” with Weezer and Fall Out Boy. When bands make sick arena money, it can take a year or more to return them to the reality of theater residencies.

Great Moments In Social Media

Cher’s Twitter feed is consistently entertaining, unbridled and sprinkled with emojis.

On Thursday, the Park Theater headliner posted, “Some Creeps Were/Are Selling BOGUS MEET & GREETS ON THE ROAD … I “RARELY DO MEET & GREETS ON THE ROAD …” She emphasized that the money made from her meet-and-greet VIP tickets in Las Vegas goes to MGM Resorts, then added, “IF YOU WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH … I THINK THEY SHOULD GIVE THEM AWAY. MGM OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T NEED THE CASH.”

She sprinkled the message with some some ghost, cash-bag and eye-roll emojis. I believe MGM would take the counter position on this subject …

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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