Outdoor concerts and music festivals heat up summer venues.
BY ANNIE FLANZRAICH
A drive through Nevada reveals the state’s dueling nature: glittering lights to mocha mountains, people-packed cities to abandoned ghost towns. The state’s summer concerts prove just as diverse; you’ll find everything from a neon-lit electronic music fest to a three-day dusty, country session. In the Silver State, finding the concert to suit your tastes is simply a matter of where and when.
The electric sky returns to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Electric Daisy Carnival celebrates its 20th year June 17-19.
“Seeing the growth of EDC over the last 20 years has been an amazing experience, one I am truly grateful for,” says Pasquale Rotella, founder and CEO of Insomniac. “To commemorate two decades of incredible memories, I want to give dance music fans the journey of a lifetime.”
EDC’s journey began 20 years ago at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles where 5,000 ravers packed the halls. This year, more than 400,000 people are expected to attend the event’s fifth year at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for three days of music, art, and individuality.
The 2015 festival transformed the 1,000-acre speedway into a neon-lit playground with eight mega stages, multiple roaming art cars, more than 20 art installations, a bustling Carnival Square, more than 20 full-scale carnival rides, nightly fireworks shows, and performances from more than 200 of the world’s top dance music acts.
For 2016, EDC promises “its most creative and immersive experience to date.”
“I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have in store for 2016,” Pasquale says.
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (AND SO IS LAS VEGAS)
At the close of Life is Beautiful 2015, event CEO Justin Weniger described the three-day music, food, arts, and learning festival’s third year as a “tipping point.”
“We had some major, major moments in music,” Justin says. “The festival felt right and the energy was amazing.”
That energy and record attendance in 2015 sets the stage for more music, food, art, and learning at this year’s festival, planned for Sept. 23-25.
“It’s a bigger festival, which creates a lot of new opportunities for us to grow,” Justin says, predicting that attendance may top 150,000 people. “We have a better starting point and platform now to grow each of the pillars of
Festival goers can expect expanded culinary and art programs this year.
“There’s 12 walls that we’re activating with murals and famous artists from around the world,” Justin says. “We’re also planning to install a blend of permanent structures in downtown Las Vegas that will remain art pieces for years to come.”
While the location may seem secondary to the festival’s mission, Justin hopes the downtown Las Vegas setting inspires a new appreciation for event goers.
“I think the charm of our event is very much the footprint,” Justin says. “We want Life is Beautiful to be to Las Vegas what SXSW was and still is to Austin. This festival is drawing a lot of people to Las Vegas, and in a lot of ways they’re seeing another side of Las Vegas.”
Watching a performance at Harveys Outdoor Arena during the Summer Concert Series is a singularly Tahoe experience. The sun dips low into one of the lake’s signature summer sunsets as a similarly signature musician or band entertains crowds of thousands.
“There’s nothing like an intimate Tahoe concert venue and top name performers paired with an amazing Sierra sunset and dancing under the stars,” says Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
Since 2002, crowds of up to 9,000 people have gathered to see such artists as Lady Gaga, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, and Beyoncé.
“The Lake Tahoe Summer Concert Series continues the south shore’s long-standing reputation as an entertainment mecca,” says John Packer, a spokesman for Harrah’s and Harveys Lake Tahoe. This year’s lineup includes Sting and Peter Gabriel, Keith Urban, Slightly Stoopid, James Taylor, and the Steve Miller Band.
“Because of the size of the venue and reputation for high-quality presentations, the Lake Tahoe Summer Concert Series at Harveys has enabled the south shore to attract some of the most popular touring artists representing a wide variety of musical genres,”
Nevada’s longest-running country music festival celebrates 15 years of camping, philanthropy and country music under the stars this summer in Yerington from July 21-23.
At the heart of the event is community, says Tiffani Creedon, event manager and festival director.
“People come out here and make friends for a lifetime,” she says. “They renew their campsite and then the next year they can’t wait to see that same group again because it’s their meet-up place every year.”
The event also helps another community—Nevada’s northern rural areas. The festival raises funds for local and regional non-profit organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mason Valley.
“That’s a key piece for our festival and it makes it part of what it is,” Tiffani says. “All proceeds don’t just benefit the Boys and Girls Club anymore. They help so many other non-profit organizations in our community”.
All that do-goodin’ happens in the midst of the event’s largest lineup ever, featuring Tyler Farr, Chase Rice, Kip Moore, Phil Vassar, and Josh Abbott Band.
“It’s an experience that you cannot get anywhere else in Nevada,” Tiffani says. “It’s three days of fun, country music, and people.”
LIFE’S A BEACH
For a chill concert experience on a hot Las Vegas night, check out Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Beach Concert Series.
Concert goers can relax by the resort’s $1.6-million pool, sink their toes in the sand, and sip on cocktails while listening to music from artists like Katchafire With Mystic Roots Band, Sublime With Rome, 311, UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell, Astro & Mickey, and Huey Lewis and The News.
The concert series continues through September, and most performances begin after 7:30 p.m.—just enough time to catch golden hour on one of the best pools in the U.S., according to Trip Advisor.
More Outdoor Music in Nevada
Part Time Criminals
This Las Vegas band performs powerful melodies and lyrics, blending Americana, rock, and soul during Boulder City’s Spring Jamboree.
Bicentennial Park, Boulder City
Break of Reality
The boundary-breaking quartet blends classical technique and rock ’n’ roll—from Bach to Radiohead.
Oats Park Art Center, Fallon
The Laughlin Event Center hosts a series of summer concerts with top performers including:
May 6: Miranda Lambert
May 21: Kid Rock
June 18: Brad Paisley
Sept. 24: Hank Williams, Jr.
Laughlin Event Center, Laughlin
CasaPoolooza is a series of free outdoor concerts by the pool at the CasaBlanca Hotel Casino in Mesquite. Planned performances include:
May 14: The Spazmatics
June 11: Yellow Brick Road
July 4: Lights, Music of Journey & More
Aug. 6: Phoenix
Sept. 3: WolfCreek
Casablanca Resort, Casino, Golf and Spa, Mesquite
BBQ, Brews & Blues Festival
The Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews & Blues Festival features not only microbrews and barbecue, but more than 10 separate performances on two stages. This year’s event lineup includes the Gin Blossoms, Everclear, and regional blues artists.
Slavic Soul Party
A nine-member ensemble plays an acoustic mash-up of Balkan and Gypsy sounds with North American musical traditions.
Oats Park Art Center, Fallon
Musicians from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, LA Phil, Reno Phil, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and more present orchestral and chamber music concerts in intimate settings among the majesty of Lake Tahoe.
July 26-Aug. 13
More than 400 performances and events come to Reno each July, and many are free concerts in the city’s parks and outdoor spaces. Some paid performances this year include under-the-stars performances by UB40, Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs, and Rosanne Cash.
Jazz & Beyond: Carson City Music Festival
More than 100 musicians in more than 60 events is the setup for this annual event held each year in Carson City and the surrounding area. Many concerts are in area parks, and most events are free.
Bowers Mansion Bluegrass Festival
Grammy-nominated artists, local, and national musicians take the stage at the annual Bowers Mansion Bluegrass Festival—the oldest and largest bluegrass/old-time music festival in the Reno area.
Bowers Mansion, New Washoe City