Summer shows aplenty off the Strip

What do the Beach Boys, The Cult and Mitzi Gaynor have in common? They are all part of a Las Vegas summer that doesn’t involve the Strip.

With the Strip predictably clubbed-up for the three-day weekend, let’s catch up on the suburban casino summer that begins with the Beach Boys reunion at Red Rock Resort on Sunday.

For at least five times this year, Red Rock’s outdoor amphitheater becomes one of the largest concert venues in town; bigger in fact than Mandalay Bay’s indoor arena, says Judy Alberti, vice president of entertainment for Station Casinos.

The amphitheater now has a capacity close to 10,000 seats, thanks to a full horseshoe configuration that connects the three grandstand sections introduced last summer.

“There’s really no show we can’t do based on capacity,” Alberti says.

And this year, all five of the outdoor concerts are booked by Live Nation, the giant nationwide promoter. In theory at least, the new venue competes for any tour that would visit the Strip.

“We’re kind of changing the paradigm,” Alberti says. “If anyone thinks they can sell more tickets because they’re on the Strip, they can’t. A sellout is a sellout.”

Live Nation has tracked that even for concerts on the Strip, the majority of ticket sales are to locals, she says. And locals “want to come to Red Rock before they want to fight the Strip traffic.”

The Beach Boys are followed by a Def Leppard/Poison double bill on June 23, Pitbull on Aug. 10, Toby Keith on Aug. 11 and Jason Mraz on Oct. 7. Two more concerts may be booked, Alberti says, but it’s “more about getting the right show in” than about the volume of dates.

The Keith-Pitbull weekend follows the practice of night-to-night concerts in nonconflicting genres that has been the practice at Sunset Station, the company’s outdoor venue for smaller-capacity concerts of about 4,000.

Now in its 15th season, Sunset Station’s outdoor stage is booked with a half-dozen shows between Kenny Loggins June 23 and a Dokken-Quiet Riot double bill on Sept. 8.

Station further steps down its venue sizes with ballroom concerts for about 2,000 people at Green Valley Ranch Resort and Texas Station, where Merle Haggard is booked Friday.

But Station doesn’t quite have a complete domination of the concert scene. The M Resort is back in the game on Saturday with The Cult’s “Choice of Weapon” tour.

(Opening act Against Me! has been in the news lately. Saturday’s show is the first after singer Tom Gabel has confirmed being in the process of gender change.)

The M’s Villaggio Del Sole Pool was built with a permanent 1,500-square-foot stage and designed for concerts with a 7,000-person capacity. But the stage never lived up to its potential, partly because of the resort’s larger financial struggle, which led to new owner Penn National acquiring it at a near 75 percent discount.

Now it’s back in full swing, with The Cult followed by an all-day Summerjam featuring The Wanted June 17, and by Hank Williams Jr. on June 29. Summerjam is co-produced with radio station KLUC-FM, 98.5 but the other two are produced in-house. …

It’s not exactly for the club demo, but Mitzi Gaynor reprising her autobiographical showcase on June 16 is good news for those who missed the 80-year-old’s bold and solidly constructed career retrospective last fall.

It’s also noteworthy that the single performance will be at Sam’s Town, in a venue that’s used for all sorts of in-house functions, but only about once each fiscal quarter for ticketed concerts or headliners. …

This tour of locals casinos ends with the note that a promising independent movie, “Paul Williams Still Alive!” opens in limited release June 8, after the very-alive Williams just performed last week at the South Point, where some of the movie was filmed on a previous Williams show weekend.

The film is more about the odd bond Williams forges with filmmaker Stephen Kessler, but does dredge up the singer’s meteoric self-destruction and rise from the ashes. As Kessler notes in an email, “When Paul played Vegas in the ’70s and ’80s, he was one of the biggest stars in the U.S.” …

Finally, back to the Strip for a couple of quick notes. First, Jonathan Clark has quietly closed shop at the Riviera. He has a house in Las Vegas, but in a brief note says he is now in Canada “sorting out my U.S. visa.” Hmmm. Are impressionists now so prevalent that it no longer qualifies as an “extraordinary ability” with the green card folk?

And in an odd bit of cross-promotion, Miss USA contestants visit the raunchy “Absinthe” today to tape a segment for the pageant that airs June 3. Since Miss USA isn’t all “scholarship” image-conscious like Miss America, the contestants will get to learn the secrets of giant-bubble burlesque from Angel Porrino.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at
mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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