We’ve all heard the old saying, “the best things in life are free.” But these days, that might be hard to believe — especially when you’re looking for something fun to do on vacation. Luckily, visitors can have a blast at downtown’s Fremont Street Experience. Not only can you enjoy live entertainment this summer, Fremont Street Experience goes all out with a summer concert series featuring famous musicians. And you don’t have to pay a penny.
Rock of Vegas
I remember my mom blasting ’80s hair band music from her record player. The big hair and elaborate makeup both frightened and intrigued me as a child, especially bands like Twisted Sister and KISS. Even though I was more into my Barbie dolls and Fisher Price toys, I would stop and take a break just to watch my mom belt out the lyrics at the top of her lungs while doing her awesome air guitar moves. Thanks to her, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for ’80s rock bands, especially Def Leppard, Whitesnake and Billy Idol!
If this was your era (or you simply appreciate the sound), Fremont Street Experience presents “Rock of Vegas,” a free, all-ages show open to the public. This summer concert series features the legendary rock ‘n’ roll artists from the ’80s now through Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1). With the exception of this week (Friday, June 22), every concert is on Saturday at 9 p.m.
The summer concert series started in 2009. The first concert had the theme of “Summer of ’69,” commemorating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock.
“That summer was very successful, so we’ve done a summer concert series every year since,” said Tom Bruny, marketing director for Fremont Street Experience. “The great thing about music is it brings back memories from the era. It takes you back to high school or college, a time in your life when songs had meanings and were important.”
In 2010, Fremont Street Experience hosted a “Summer of the ’70s” concert series, followed by “Absolutely ’80s” last year. Absolutely ’80s” focused more on the bands that MTV helped make famous (and vice versa), not so much hair bands.
“We’ve heard from a lot of fans at Fremont Street [who] loved ‘Absolutely ’80s’ but missed the hair bands, so that was in the back of our minds,” he said.
With the release of the movie, “Rock of Ages” earlier this summer along with the traveling Broadway production of the same name, timing couldn’t be any more perfect.
“We knew our fans wanted to see hair bands of the ’80s, so we went out and hired some of the bands [that had songs] featured in the musical and movie and we were able to do so.”
Vince Neil of Motley Crue performed last month for Memorial Day weekend and Dennis DeYoung of Styx took the stage this past weekend. This Friday, guests can see Night Ranger at the 3rd Street stage at 9 p.m. Upcoming artists include Asia, Warrant, Survivor, Skid Row, Bret Michaels of Poison and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.
Bruny, who watched last week’s show with Styx’s Dennis DeYoung, said there were about 5,000-6,000 people in the crowd.
“Growing up on all of Styx’s albums, that was the one I was really looking forward to the most,” he said. “It was a great concert, one hit song after the other. Everybody was singing along.”
In addition to these featured bands, you can also enjoy nightly entertainment with the Rock of Vegas theme. Rock Candy performs six nights a week on the 3rd Street stage, while Las Vegas’ own Dirty Paradise (a tribute hair band group) brings the energy six nights a week to the 1st Street stage. Rock on!
If you’re into Spanish music, then you don’t want to miss this. For the first time ever, “Descarga” summer concert series comes to Fremont Street Experience. Enjoy two Latin music concerts with the first one on Saturday, July 14. The sizzling concert series kicks off with a live performance by Latin superstar, Beto Cuevas. Also performing is Mexican pop band, Jotdog.
On Saturday, July 28, the summer concert lineup welcomes Larry Hernandez, No. 1 Billboard Regional Mexican music sensation. You’ll also get to see a live show from El Pelon del Mikrofono.
Both shows start at 8 p.m. and take place on the 3rd Street stage.
Entering its sixth consecutive year, “Descarga” is the summer destination for Latin music fans in Southern California with more than 200,000 fans enjoying free outdoor music. Past artists include Luis Fonsi, Reik, Jencarlos Canela, Banda Los Recoditos, Natalia Jimenez, Flex, Joey Montana, Dylan y Lenny, El Potro de Sinaloa and Patrulla 81.
Fremont fun for everyone
If you haven’t been to Fremont Street Experience yet, there’s more to see than live entertainment and casinos. Catch the Viva Vision canopy light show (featuring the world’s largest video screen containing 12.5 million LED lights) and see lots of the retired old-school neon signs from the Las Vegas Strip.
“Fremont Street is where Las Vegas started – there’s a lot of historic aspect to it,” Bruny said. “It’s a let your hair down, good time-environment. We like to throw a party every night and it’s free. It gives people a reason to come down here.”
If you’re in town for Fourth of July, UFC Octagon Nation Tour comes to Fremont Street Experience starting with a free performance by multi-platinum rock band, 3 Doors Down. The concert begins at 9 p.m. on the 3rd Street stage. Through July 7, fans can meet UFC athletes, play the latest UFC video games and check out memorabiila from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., daily. In addition, there will be a Downtown Pub Crawl on Thursday, July 5 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. hosted by UFC fighters. Participating hotels include The D, Golden Gage, Golden Nugget and El Cortez.
Other Fremont Street Experience events during the year include the popular “October Fright Fest” and “March Hoops” for March Madness basketball season.