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Your guide to 5 major music festivals in Las Vegas

Updated April 18, 2024 - 9:12 am

There’s a little something for everybody.

Except sleep.

You can rest in June. Now, Vegas music festival season is upon us with five major events in a six-week span covering a broad swath of genres, from metal to hip-hop, electronic dance music to vintage rock ’n’ roll.

What unites them all?

Loaded lineups delivering hours and hours of live music, with some of them going until dawn.

To prepare yourself, limber up, stay hydrated, get a 5-Hour Energy blood transfusion, and check out this handy Vegas festival guide.

Viva Las Vegas

The Orleans, April 18-21

The lowdown: Jump, jive and wail until the sun comes up — or your liver files for protective custody. It’s always a toss-up between which will occur first at the world’s largest rockabilly gathering. This four-day, all-night bash is a nattily attired throw-down like no other, where the pompadours are big, inhibitions are small and there’s burlesque performances, tiki pool parties, fashion shows and more raging around the clock. Throw in the Saturday car show with its massive collection of gorgeous, pre-1960s rides, and it’s like dying and going to hot rod heaven.

Anticipated highlights: Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker headlining the car show; Deke Dickerson’s annual “Guitar Geek Festival Show”; “Jivers Ed” jiving classes with Miss Wolff; the Old Chevy Trio, coming all the way from Brazil; the VLVR ’n’B Show, with The Extraordinaires, Saudia Young, Tammi Savoy, Felicia, Les Greene & the VLV Big Band.

Random factoid: Now in year 27, Viva is Vegas’ longest-running music festival.

Tickets: $230 for weekend pass; $40 for car show only, $60 for car show access all weekend; vivalasvegas.net

Sick New World

Las Vegas Festival Grounds, April 27

The lowdown: “Love is in the air,” gushed Dez Fafara, the ponytailed vocalist for reunited L.A. spooky kids Coal Chamber during his band’s set at Sick New World last year. That, and the scent of suntan lotion — along with a distinct whiff of 1998. Nü metal nostalgia reigned during the fest’s sold-out debut at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, where the black-clad crowd was largely indivisible from the similarly colored asphalt beneath their feet as they pinballed between four stages for 13-plus hours of rap-rock, industrial, grunge, noise rock and more. To help beat the heat, the fest has been bumped up a few weeks this year.

Anticipated highlights: Returnees System of a Down playing one of only two scheduled shows in 2024; former Oingo Boingo frontman turned Tim Burton soundtrack guru Danny Elfman playing his first local solo concert; shoegaze favs Slowdive making a rare Vegas appearance; Belgian industrial trio Front 242 hitting town on their farewell tour after over 40 years as a band; metalcore supergroup Better Lovers performing here for the first time.

Random factoid: System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan owns high-end Vegas comic book shop Torpedo Comics.

Tickets: $392; sicknewworldfest.com

Lovers & Friends

Las Vegas Festival Grounds, May 4

The lowdown: Nostalgia is a transportive thing, capable of rocketing us to years gone by instantaneously. But when mixed with songs evocative of first loves, first crushes and first kisses, it can become that much more potent. And that’s what throwback R&B and hip-hop festival Lovers & Friends is all about, with acts that soundtracked many a high school prom slow dance in the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s, in addition to plenty of gentlemen’s club staples during that time frame. As the fest returns for year three, it’s ladies first with Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson and Mary J. Blige headlining a lineup that also boasts Gwen Stefani, Ciara, TLC, Brandy, Eve and plenty more female stars.

Anticipated highlights: Lil Wayne and Usher performing their signature albums “Tha Carter III” and “Confessions,” respectively; M.I.A. bringing the noise with her clamorous alt-hip-hop; Nelly Furtado playing Vegas for the first time in 17 years; the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees conjuring boy band vibes; Method Man and Redman teaming up after undoubtedly hitting local dispensaries.

Random factoid: Vegas’ own female R&B group 702 got their start here all the way back in 1993 under their original name, Sweeter than Suga.

Tickets: Sold out; join waitlist at loversandfriendsfest.com

Electric Daisy Carnival

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, May 17-19

The lowdown: How does one use words to describe a festival designed to leave you speechless? Well, since we are highly paid professionals here, we’ll give it a try: Electric Daisy Carnival, the world’s largest electronic dance music festival, is so full of eye-slappin,’ earhole-blasting whiz-banger-y, it’s like waterboarding your senses in Red Bull and/or outfitting your adrenal gland with a booster rocket and launching that bad boy to the moon — but only if the moon were, in fact, a giant glowing subwoofer.

Anticipated highlights: British indie electronic favorite Four Tet making his EDC debut; a bevy of back-to-back sets, including John Summit b2b Green Velvet, ACRAZE b2b Kream, FrostTop b2b RemK, and Eli Brown b2b HI-LO; EDC going country with the new YeEDC Saloon that’ll be part of the Downtown EDC experience; changes to the venue layout, with the bionicJUNGLE, quantumVALLEY, bassPOD, wasteLAND and neonGARDEN stages getting relocated, resulting in larger dance floors; a four-way b2b from Worship (Sub Focus b2b Dimension b2b Culture Shock b2b 1991).

Random factoid: Superstar DJ-producer Tiesto has played EDC every single Saturday night since the fest debuted in Vegas in 2011. The streak continues this year, making him the only act to play all the Vegas EDCs.

Tickets: $599 for 3-Day GA+ pass; lasvegas.electricdaisycarnival.com

Punk Rock Bowling

Downtown Las Vegas Events Center and numerous clubs, May 24-27

The lowdown: As many a prominent historian has noted, if you were able to somehow merge “The Big Lebowski” — the “Citizen Kane” of stoner bowling flicks — with “Repo Man” — the “Gone With the Wind” of celluloid punk nihilism — you’d clearly have the greatest motion picture of all time. And while that cinematic masterwork remains the stuff of imagination, it’s real-life equivalent does, in fact, exist: Punk Rock Bowling. A true endurance test of fun with eight hours of music a day followed by myriad club shows. Think of it as (combat) boot camp for dudes zipped up in black leather jackets despite the Vegas heat.

Anticipated highlights: British ska greats Madness playing their first U.S. shows in over a decade; riot grrls Bratmobile reuniting; horn-fired rockers Rocket from the Crypt setting fire to stages once again; Aussie noise rockers the Cosmic Psychos punishing speakers; and British folk punk forebear Billy Bragg making his PRB debut.

Random factoid: This will be the Descendents’ sixth time headlining PRB, the most of any act.

Tickets: $90 per day; $200 for three-day pass; club shows priced separately; punkrockbowling.com

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram.

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