Think of it like going from frozen in amber to fired from a cannon.
For the past year and a half, Vegas’ increasingly robust music festival circuit has been held back by the pandemic. Things picked up in August with the meteoric return of Psycho Las Vegas. But they really do move in September, when there is at least one big festival every weekend.
It’s a lot to absorb, but as usual we’re here to help. Here’s a breakdown of one of the busiest months ever for Vegas festival goers.
Lost in dreams September 4-5
Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
■ The essential: Electric Daisy Carnival has been the silverback alpha male gorilla of Vegas music festivals for a decade now. Insomniac Events, the company behind EDC, is expanding its presence in Vegas with Lost in Dreams, a new festival focused on future bass, melodic dubstep and electronic pop music. Not sure what all of these subgenres are? It’s okay, you can always show up and be feasted on by all the pretty lights.
■ Expected highlights: A DJ set by “Mister Mellow” himself, the ancestor of the Washed Out chillwave; Manila Killa throwing with Chet Porter; the otherworldly production values Insomniac is known for.
■ COVID-19 protocols: Must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the first entry event.
■ Random factoroid: Seven Lions, one of the festival’s biggest attractions, may specialize in melodic dubstep, but it’s a headbanger at heart, citing Swedish progressive metalheads Opeth as his favorite band. Horns in the air, guys.
■ Details: Two-day passes start at $ 110; day tickets start at $ 60; lostindreams.frontgatetickets.com.
Viva Las Vegas from September 9 to 12
■ The essential: What is bigger? The hair or the hot rods at this pompadour and ’57 Chevy-heavy festival. It is the largest rockabilly event in the world, drawing 17,000 travelers to Vegas each year and drawing over 20,000 people to its outdoor auto show on Saturdays. There are burlesque bingo sessions, vintage fashion shows, poolside tiki parties, and plenty of Rosie the Riveters and Arthur Fonzarellis in the house.
■ Expected highlights: First generation rockabilly lifers like Hayden Thompson and Art Adams still prey on them in their 80s (!); the “Bloodhound Rock” of punk troubadour JD McPherson; Vegas hepcats Shanda and the Howlers and the Delta Bombers.
■ COVID-19 protocols: Masks must be worn inside the casino.
■ Random factoroid: Viva Las Vegas is the city’s longest-running music festival, now in its 21st year. That’s a lot of ointment, brother.
■ Details: Four-day pass $ 230 in advance, $ 250 day of show; auto show only, $ 40; vivalasvegas.net.
Big Blues Bender from September 9 to 12
Westgate Las Vegas
■ The essential: Many artists will sing the blues here. The fans? Not so much, as this four-day musical endurance test starts at noon most of the time and continues until 5 a.m. on some evenings / mornings. The theme for Opening Day is Mardi Gras, and rightly so: The Bender often feels like a Vegas version of those Big Easy festivities. Better invest in that economical bottle of Excedrin, pronto.
■ Expected highlights: the gospel greats the Blind Boys of Alabama jamming with harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite; “One for the Kings”, a tribute to BB King, Albert King and Freddie King organized by Victor Wainwright; Soul singer Bettye Lavette, who recorded her first single in 1962 at the age of 16, continuing to do her thing six decades later. Eat it, Father Time.
■ COVID-19 protocols: Must provide proof of full vaccination or a time-stamped negative PCR test within 72 hours of recording the event. Masks must be worn inside the casino.
■ Random factoroid: Now in its seventh tour, the Bender is making their Westgate debut this year after previous appearances at the Plaza and the Hard Rock Hotel.
■ Details: Four-day passes cost $ 499; bigbluesbender.com.
Life is good from September 17 to 20
■ The essential: Vegas’ biggest music festival not named EDC, Life is Beautiful is Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Mickey’s Wide Mouth, the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of music festivals that take place within the city limits, spanning 18 blocks from downtown. Time to resole those walking shoes, pronto.
■ Expected highlights: Pop Changeling Billie Eilish Achieves Festival Headlining Status; guitar goddess St. Vincent playing songs from her funk new album, “Daddy’s Home” for the first time in Vegas; rapper Megan Thee Stallion doesn’t give a damn about all prudes.
■ COVID-19 protocols: Must provide full proof of vaccination – to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ you must receive your last dose of vaccine at least 14 days before your entry date – or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, which must be obtained within 72 days. hours before Life is Beautiful. Three-day ticket holders can be tested on September 16 or 17 to have their negative result honored on the three days of the festival.
■ Random factoroid: Talk about pent-up demand: Life is Beautiful sold out in record time this year, with all tickets being picked up within hours of going on sale in March.
■ Details: Exhausted; check the ticket redemption at lifeisbeautiful.com/tickets.
Punk rock bowling Sept. 24-26
Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
■ The essential: Leather jackets, leather livers: both come in handy at one of the loudest gatherings of the year. It feels like a punk rock family reunion – you know, if mom and dad had septum piercings and considered Pabst Blue Ribbon a sacrament.
■ Expected highlights: The big names in hardcore punk, the Circle Jerks, get together for their first concerts in a decade; New Wave pioneers Devo return to PRB to replace big names in British ska Madness after an invigorated performance in 2013; Underrated female punks Lunachicks end a two-decade hiatus with a club show on Friday and a festival performance on Sunday. Finally, you might hear “The Day Squid’s Gerbil Died” in the flesh.
■ COVID-19 protocols: Proof of vaccination or a negative test must be obtained on or after September 23 to participate in the festival or any PRB event.
■ Random factoroid: When Punk Rock Bowling started over two decades ago, it really was bowling. PRB didn’t become a full-fledged music festival until 2010, when headliners NOFX, Flogging Molly and DRI ravaged Sunset Station.
■ Details: Exhausted; ticket exchange at punkrockbowling.lyte.com.
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