Making Sin City Rock City

With the echoes of Life is Beautiful Festival still ringing through downtown Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International and Rock in Rio turned up the volume on Las Vegas’ next big festival.

Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and Joss Stone have been added to an already star-studded lineup for the first American Rock in Rio festival, taking place on the Las Vegas Strip. Looking to transform Sin City into Rock City, the festival has packed its two stages with performances by the aforementioned performers plus No Doubt, Metallica, Linkin Park, Deftones, Taylor Swift and John Legend.

Promising an “immersive experience,” Rock in Rio CEO  Luis Justo detailed an event that would feature more than 100 acts and three Rock Streets – Rock Street USA, Rock Street UK and Rock Street Brazil – each lined by 20 houses filled with shops, restaurants and small stages where bands and artists will perform. This will be supplemented by strolling street performers. The streets will surround a giant Ferris wheel and will anchor the southeast side of the 37-acre festival grounds. Two giant stages – the Main Stage (right across from the SLS) and the Sunset Stage will feature the headline performers.

Already under construction, the permanent open-air concert venue – The City of Rock – is being built on the old Circus Circus RV Park at the intersection of the Las Vegas Strip and Sahara Avenue.

“This is a monumental task,” said MGM Senior Vice President of Entertainment Chris Baldizan.

True, the event will leave a permanent monument to live entertainment directly on the Strip. Vegas has long billed itself as the Entertainment Capital of the World. MGM Grand Hotel and Casino tags itself as “The City of Entertainment.” After a rocky few years that have seen shows big and small close and live bands get cut in favor of cheaper canned music, Vegas appears to be dipping into music festivals and outdoor events as a way to reinvigorate its entertainment credentials.

Early interest in Rock in Rio Las Vegas appears to substantiate the success of that tactic with advance tickets sales coming from 32 countries.

Sample performances Monday promised a festival experience that was multi-cultural, enthusiastic and rockin’. Sunny skies and sample “houses” formed the backdrop as performers took various stages to perform Irish, hip-hop, tap and Latin dancing while musicians mixed rock, jazz and Latin for a sound that moved your feet and your hips. Throw in a hula-hoop dancer and fire performer and you get some hint as to what will make up the three streets of entertainment that will enhance the featured main acts.

The festival will take place May 8 – 9 and 15 – 16, 2015.

The main lineup includes:

May 8

  • Main Stage: No Doubt

May 9

  • Main Stage: Metallica; Linkin Park
  • Sunset Stage: Deftones

May 15

  • Main Stage: Taylor Swift; Ed Sheeran

May 16

  • Main Stage: Bruno Mars
  • Sunset Stage: John Legend; Joss Stone

The three rock streets will include:

Rock Street USA

  • An homage to New Orleans and jazz.
  • An official Street Dance Crew, who will perform choreographed routines from artists like Michael Jackson, Usher, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and more, plus battle visiting dance crews in styles that include hip-hop, popping and locking, breaking, krumping and more.

Rock Street UK

  • Terra Celta, who mixes Brazilian culture with traditional Celtic instruments.
  • Sone Beetles, who performs new and original arrangements of music from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
  • Lisa Lottie, a trained circus artist who will do her “Bend It Like a Barbie” act.

Rock Street Brazil

  • Latin Grammy nominee Bossa Cuca Nova will combine the traditional bossa nova sounds and percussion with the rhythm of EDM.
  • Leo Gandelman will take the stage mixing classic and pop music.

A preview of the Rock Streets for Rock in Rio Las Vegas



I'm one of a rare breed of folks, a native Las Vegan. That's Las Vegan, not Vegan. Being born in Las Vegas has endowed me with crazy Vegas skills - must be all the exposure to neon. I'm a human casino GPS, celebrity locator (You never know who you'll meet in a casino elevator, right Richard Branson?) and tip calculator. My mom taught me probability and statistics with decommissioned casino dice. When I walk through a hotel, tourists think I work there. Maybe it's my smile, my purposeful walk or my friendly answers. Maybe it's just the black suit. But whatever the reason, gives me the chance to exercise my Vegas super powers every day. Now if I could just predict when Megabucks would hit... You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.