Ticketed shows grow amid free options in downtown Las Vegas

Spider-man and the buff dude coated in silver bodypaint turn a lot of heads out on Fremont Street, but Derek Stevens’ vertical-stripe ringmaster’s jacket attracts attention too.

Especially when he’s wearing it while introducing hard rockers Avenged Sevenfold to their tattoo and black T-shirt crowd, as he did at last month’s Las Rageous festival in the outdoor Downtown Las Vegas Events Center he built near his D Las Vegas.

“I usually introduce every band that we’ve got,” Stevens said last week. “I like to see what the crowd looks like. I like to see if people are smiling and if they’re happy. For me, that’s a lot of feedback. I like to walk the crowd, even if it’s like a Dropkick Murphys-type thing. Mosh pits and whatnot.”

That old-Vegas personal touch helps explain why ticketed entertainment is expanding in a downtown that created plenty of free distractions: live music on two stages, yard-long margaritas and a carnival midway’s worth of costumed characters.

The two old-school hotel showrooms that always anchored Glitter Gulch — the Plaza and the Golden Nugget — have awakened from their slumbers. But the growth is in festivals and focused events.

“This year we’ll have four festivals and last year we had none,” Stevens says of the Events Center, which opened in late 2014 at Carson Avenue and Third Street.

This weekend, the Events Center is hosting Punk Rock Bowling, which moves over from a vacant lot near the freeway. Saturday brings the Scars and Stripes festival, with 3 Doors Down headlining a bill to benefit veterans causes.

Last weekend also saw the debut of the Crapshoot Comedy Festival in seven clubs and venues in and around Fremont Street. Promoter Paul Chamberlain calls it a strong start, despite Mother Nature sabotaging the first night. Strong winds and an unseasonable chill canceled two shows and wreaked havoc on the kickoff party and outdoor box office in front of the Zappos building.

Even so, “the prototype went into space and came back. It didn’t blow up on the launchpad,” Chamberlain says.

The experiment was risky when it came to testing unproven venues. “The comics really enjoyed the rooftop at Commonwealth,” Chamberlain says, and “the little shining star out of all of it was the Fiesta Room at El Cortez.”

By contrast, the outdoor Beauty Bar patio proved too noisy, and next year’s fest will attempt to “keep it to Fremont Street” instead of straying to other downtown locations.

“There’s some really fun things available as we go east instead of trying to cross the Rubicon,” Chamberlain says, including new bars and potential spaces that “didn’t pencil out for our first year.”

But Memorial Day weekend also hosted Vince Neil in a free Saturday show in front of the Downtown Grand, followed by tribute bands channeling the likes of Journey and Foo Fighters on Sunday. And the Third Street Stage hosted Canadian rockers Theory of a Deadman on Friday.

How can you compete with free?

“I think the combination of the ticketed and the free actually works well together,” says Rikki Tanenbaum, the Golden Nugget executive who oversees marketing. “I think it’s overall a pretty comprehensive entertainment experience.”

Rumors of a Broadway musical for the Nugget’s showroom haven’t been completely quashed by veteran showmen Frankie Moreno and Clint Holmes sharing the room for at least the summer. “The reality is we’re always looking for options, because we have so many repeat guests,” Tanenbaum says.

But whatever is on the stage, “We’re very bullish on keeping our showroom alive,” she adds.

Stevens says he still has to be “tight-lipped” about whether the redevelopment of the Las Vegas Club and surrounding properties will have a formal show venue. But he doesn’t think that anything inside will be hurt by what’s outside. “I’m such a big believer in Fremont Street and how much fun it is,” he says. “I think just the element of having more people around is a positive for all businesses.”

Contact Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288. Follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like