Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas

From arena rock shows to celebrity impersonators, Vegas is becoming one of the West Coast's biggest live music destinations
  • Photo: Denise Truscello/WireImage.com
    Elton John performs at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace
  • Photo: John Shearer/WireImage.com
    Calle 13's René Pérez performs at the 12th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Nov. 10, 2011
  • Photo: Ken Howard
    Blue Man Group perform at the Venetian
August 14, 2012 -- 12:55 pm PDT
By Bruce Britt / GRAMMY.com

(The following is an excerpt from "The Vegas Issue" of GRAMMY magazine. Read the issue, in a new reader-friendly format, here.)

"Vegas baby, Vegas!"

Those immortal lines, delivered in the 1996 comedy classic Swingers, embody the swagger, high expectations and dice-rolling excitement of America's favorite gaming town. But the martini-swilling Las Vegas symbolized in the film is undergoing a curious transformation. Unlike its postwar golden years when swing-era superstars such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin reigned supreme on the Strip, Vegas has since morphed into one of the top live music destinations for artists spanning pop, rock, Latin, and dance/electronica.

From its countless hotel casinos, nightclubs and other live entertainment venues, Vegas is certainly one of the West Coast's biggest live music destinations. The main challenge for Vegas-bound music lovers may be avoiding bankruptcy from taking in all the attractions Sin City has to offer. While the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority prevents us from offering financial advice, we present our guide to some of the places offering the best live music excitement in Las Vegas.


A Las Vegas hotel residency is the career equivalent of a coronation. Celine Dion helped set the bar in 2003 with her pioneering four-year stay at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. In 2011 the singer returned to the Colosseum to launch a second three-year residency. Sharing the stage at the Colosseum is Elton John with the Million Dollar Piano show. Garth Brooks made headlines in 2009 when he surfaced from retirement for an exclusive four-year run at the Encore Theater at the Wynn. Not to be outdone, guitar legend Carlos Santana recently kicked off his two-year residency at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. Other residencies have included metal kings Mötley Crüe.

Awards Shows And Festivals

Las Vegas is becoming a top destination for music awards shows. This year marks the fifth year the Latin GRAMMY Awards will be hosted in Las Vegas as the show returns to the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Nov. 15. Mandalay Bay has hosted other events such as the Tiger Woods Foundation's Tiger Jam. In recent years, the MGM Grand Garden Arena has emerged as the reigning champion of Las Vegas music awards venues, showcasing events such as the Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and iHeartRadio Music Festival. This past June, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted the Electric Daisy Carnival.

Exclusive Las Vegas Attractions

Of late, Sin City producers have embraced the old-fashioned Las Vegas spectacle and applied it to lavish rock-oriented productions. The Aria hosts Viva Elvis, a hip-swiveling Cirque du Soleil production that combines dance, acrobatics and the music of the King of Rock and Roll. Yet another Cirque du Soleil extravaganza, the Beatles' Love celebrates the timeless music of the Fab Four at the Mirage. Bug-eyed musical conceptualists Blue Man Group have become a staple on the Vegas Strip, with their residency at the Venetian.

Continue reading this feature in "The Vegas Issue" of GRAMMY magazine

What musical acts have you seen in Vegas? Tell us below.

Email Newsletter

Similar Photos