These Vegas venues rock for music lovers

In the  days of the Rat Pack and Elvis, Vegas was known for its connection to the era’s best musicians. Although a lot has changed since then in the realm of popular music, Vegas’ music tradition stays strong in these excellent music venues:


Foster the People at the Boulevard Pool in 2011. Photo: Las Vegas Sun / Erik Kabik

Foster the People at the Boulevard Pool in 2011. Photo: Las Vegas Sun / Erik Kabik

The Cosmopolitan may be a relative newcomer to the Las Vegas scene, but with several venues in the resort booking solid musical acts, it’s been a music lover’s delight since day one.

The fourth-floor Chelsea ballroom handles larger-capacity events, having hosted The Strokes, Jay Z and more in the Cosmopolitan’s one year of operation. The Boulevard Pool also takes on huge crowds when it hosts its concerts– with big names like Snow Patrol, Foster the People and electronic duo Justice coming down the pipeline this year.

Book & Stage, a bar/lounge on the resort’s first floor hosts several up-and-coming acts throughout the week, which you can catch from the bar or out on the casino floor. Best of all, these performances are free.

Marquee is, of course, a nightclub more than a concert venue, but the nightlife venue takes its music selection seriously, with several big-name residencies for electronic music fans to clamor about, including LMFAO’s Redfoo once a month, Chuckie and Kaskade.

“Having a monthly residency in Vegas gives me the chance to stretch out musically, play longer sets, and share some really unique magical moments with my fans,” said Kaskade.

“Vegas has exploded in the last two years, the parties just keep getting bigger and better, the city and Marquee are can’t-miss destinations for dance music fans.”

Hard Rock Hotel:

Weezer rocks at The Joint in 2011. Photo: Las Vegas Sun / Erik Kabik

Weezer rocks at The Joint in 2011. Photo: Las Vegas Sun / Erik Kabik

The Hard Rock Hotel’s status as a venue for music lovers should come as no surprise — it’s right in the name. And if you don’t catch the name when you drive past this resort, the giant neon guitar out front might clue you in.

The HRH’s main venue, The Joint, has a capacity of about 4,000, and has put on some epic shows over the years, including Jane’s Addiction, Weezer, Stevie Nicks, Drake and Guns N Roses in 2011 alone. There’s a smaller venue, Body English, that occasionally holds smaller sets and the Hard Rock also hosts a series of poolside concerts in the summer. Between its venues, HRH hosts acts of all levels, from those with indie street cred to global superstars.

The design of the whole resort also reflects its connection to the music scene, with art and memorabilia on the casino floor.

“Sometimes, when bands play The Joint or our pool, they will donate some memorabilia and we’ll put it on the casino floor,” said Paul Davis, vice president of entertainment for the Hard Rock Hotel.

They’ll be taking it a step further when long-time metal act Motley Crue takes on The Joint in February, as the whole resort will take on a Crue-oriented appearance to enhance the whole experience.

“We’re undergoing a heavy process of making the property as a whole look and feel like Motley Crue,” said Davis, who emphasized that the band has been involved in making The Joint and the resort “their own.”

“It’s not just the band producing a concert for 12 nights, playing 90 minutes of songs and then collecting a paycheck. The band is making this a unique production, including the audience in it and making the venue look and feel like it belongs to them for the entire month.”

There’s also another venue in store for the resort, still in the early planning stages but due in the early summer. This one will be have a capacity of about 300, and though it doesn’t have a name yet, there are big plans for it.

“Think [Los Angeles’] Viper Room,” said Davis, “with a very cool, very gritty feel. It’ll be used for local bands, smaller bands that are coming up the ladder or maybe a band member from a big band that wants to do a gig on the side.”

Notable mentions:

There are still excellent concert venues in Vegas outside of the relatively music-focused resorts, and they are certainly worth a visit if you have a particular musician in mind when you visit Las Vegas.

Already a hot nightlife spot, the Palms also features the 2,500-capacity Pearl Concert Theater, which will see performances by Trey Songz, Kelly Clarkson and Creed in the first half of 2012.

Mandalay Bay is home to both the House of Blues and Mandalay Bay Events Center, giving it a combination of edgier and more mainstream, big-name acts throughout the year.

The huge MGM Grand Garden Arena’s concert calendar thus far includes George Strait, 311 and Neil Diamond this year. Caesars Palace has Celine Dion, Elton John and Rod Stewart as resident entertainment in the Colosseum.

Last, but most certainly not least, are Cirque’s musician-focused shows: VIVA Elvis at Aria and LOVE, based on the music of The Beatles, at Mirage.