Everyone talks about the drinking, partying, gambling and overall sleaze of Las Vegas (think the Hangover movie), but surprisingly I found the music scene in Las Vegas to be the true highlight of this unique city.
I spent one week in Vegas and went to three concerts in three very different venues. I'm here to spill the tea on the best and worst attributes of each.
Resorts World Theatre: The New Kid on the Block
First up we have residency venues, which are located inside HUGE buildings with hotel rooms, casinos, dining etc. - many of these exist throughout Vegas. An artist who performs on a concert residency is called a resident performer. Concert residencies have been the staple of the Las Vegas Strip for decades, pioneered by singer-pianist Liberace in the 1940s and Frank Sinatra with the Rat Pack in the 1950s.
Recently opened in June 2021, Resorts World is a brand new massive hotel/casino/multi-leveled conglomerate of lights, sounds, slot machines, rooms and, of course, entertainment! We saw Katy Perry's Las Vegas residency titled "Play" inside of the Resorts World Theatre. I would dub this venue as a hidden gem in plain sight.
On first look this building is the same bigger-than-life structure as every other building in Vegas, such as Caesars Palace which is the same concept of a skyscraper with many experiences to be had within. However, the theater venue itself mirrors an old-school theater with its small size and surprisingly close seating. Upon entering, you are transported. The theater has its own concession area, bathrooms etc. Once you are in, you don't need to exit.
The Katy Perry: Play at Resorts World Theatre show itself is spectacular! Vegas residencies give each artist the chance to construct their dream show without worrying about how to actually pull it off. These types of venues go BIG, THEATRICAL and EPIC with their shows! In Katy Perry's show, she chose to intertwine her songs to convey a Toy Story like plot and imagery. The show opens with herself as a doll getting chosen from a toy machine and being taken home. The show continues on with the Katy doll exploring each room of a child's home, think dancing beds, toilets and other toys. Eventually the Perry doll escapes into the outside world (sorry for the spoiler), think brassy street rats, sexy frogs and garbage fashion shows! What's amazing as well is that they have extended this residency into 2023, starting in February you can get tickets for this magical show!
These types of shows are designed to WOW and distract the most distractible. "Play" in particular was very geared towards children with flat one-liners and poop jokes. Other residency shows might be targeted towards different audiences, but the Katy Perry one was definitely made with young fans in mind. Which is actually very sweet in intent since the artist herself recently had her first child. However, my husband and I more-so love shows that feature the artist's voice with fewer theatrics. We don't need the 3 hour show to be full of animations and animatronics.
You should see your favorite artist at a residency venue if...
You want to bring your children
You want an immersive experience
You don't mind the heavy use of backup singers
You want the true feel of Vegas, the razzledazzle, the awe, the wow etc.
You really love the artist they are featuring and want to see their creative side
The next type of Vegas music venue we'll be discussing is the arena!
T Mobile Arena: Back to Basics
Arena venues are not exclusive to Vegas. In fact most sports events and major artists perform in multi-purpose indoor arenas in every large city of the U.S.A. So the T Mobile Arena is just like every other arena in America: it has the capacity for thousands, overpriced drinks, large monitors and great crowd vibes!
We saw Panic At The Disco during their Viva Las Vengeance Tour and I gotta say this was my favorite show of the three! Was it because of the open-ended format of the basic arena which gave Brendon Urie the space to construct a "basic" show, with only himself and some backup musicians? Or was it because Brendon Urie has the best vocals of the artists discussed...I say BOTH! Brendon spent his whole set serenading the crowd with no backup singers, besides harmonies from his band mates, and no fluff, just music. The impressively long 25 track, 1 hour and 45 minute set featured popular songs from across the complete Panic! discography including the entire playthrough of the 2022 record Viva Las Vengeance.
I have a secret to tell you....we snuck closer to Brendon during intermission! That's right, we took it upon ourselves to upgrade to a better seat. I put this in the con section because if you spend a lot of money on your ticket at this arena there could be a strange couple who waltzes right up to empty seats next to you with no problem, making your increased purchase decrease in value. The ushers didn't even check our tickets when we mosied by! To be fair we did stay on the main concourse, we just switched to be slightly closer to the artist. Luckily, we popped in during intermission next to a friendly gay patron who thought it was hilarious and ended up inviting us to a gay bar afterwards!
You should see your favorite artist at an indoor arena if...
You love big crowds and want to meet new people
You aren't expecting thrills
You don't care about overpriced drinks
You want to hear the soothing vocals of your favorite band
You don't mind being introduced to an opening act while you wait for your favorite band
Finally, let's discuss outdoor festivals...
Las Vegas Festival Grounds: A Well-Thought Out Festival Venue
A festival is an experience like no other. Whether you're into rock, EDM, pop, rap etc. attending a full-day or multi-day festival for one of these genres is completely different than attending a concert for a single artist. There are many outdoor venues throughout Vegas, but the majority of major festivals in Vegas are held at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds.
We attended the When We Were Young Festival, which was a single day festival featuring 65 artists from the genres of emo, pop punk, indie and screamo! Headliners included Paramore, My Chemical Romance and Avril Lavigne. For more information about that particular event, check out my previous blog article about the WWWY Festival.
Overall the event was very successful in part because of the great venue set up. I've only been to one music festival before in my life. It was a multi-day, multi-genre festival in Vietnam called Quest Festival Hanoi. That one was very fun but the grounds itself were a mess! It was muddy, the stages were very far apart and the mosquitos were flying! The Las Vegas Festival Grounds, however, impressed me. The grounds itself are lined with faux grass turf, which meant no mud, no dirt and no bugs. The size of the grounds are a perfect distance, the artists are far enough apart to not mix music but the walking distance isn't debilitating. Plus the venue has "Hydration Stations" throughout where you could easily fill your water bottle as many times as you want for free. This is an essential for rocking out all day in the hot sun. Additionally, they had multiple food and alcohol stalls which made lines reasonable. Overall, if you see a festival you are interested in at this venue, I would say go for it because the setup is effective and well-planned.
The cons of attending any festival are as follows: they are pricey, they are exhausting, they are not exclusive to one artist and they have a long wait time to enter and exit the grounds. This is the reality for all festival venues in the U.S. My advice for going to an event at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds: 1) Get there two hours before the event start time, 2) Stay at a hotel in walking distance of the festival so you don't have to get an expensive Uber home, and 3) Bring your sunscreen and water bottle! Click here for a full Music Festival Packing List to help plan your next event!
You should see your favorite artist at a music festival if...
You don't mind standing for hours or sitting on turf
You want to see other artists in the same genre
You want a full experience with many people
You are physically fit and patient
Out of all these venues and venue types, I would probably say the most exclusive and comfortable venue would be the residency venue. Whether it be Resorts World Theatre, Dolby Live, Planet Hollywood or The Venetian, all of these venues offer a more intimate show with your favorite artist. They are all relatively smaller than arenas which means you are closer to the performer, they all have comfortable seating and are indoors, plus they are dazzling shows which show off the artist's creativity!
Whichever venue you choose depends on the kind of musical experience you seek. Let me know in the comments of my latest Katy Perry Concert video or this blog article which type of show you would choose to attend.