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.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like