There are two huge music festivals happening in Las Vegas over the same weekend. This isn’t the first time. And even while it’s working its way through changing pandemic circumstances, Vegas routinely hosts several of the biggest acts on the planet on a regular basis, often on the same night. That’s just the way it is now.
You probably don’t need any reminders that the entertainment capital of the world is still exactly that, but they keep on coming anyway. Here’s this week’s edition: Olivia Rodrigo is performing at Area15 on Saturday, September 18.
The breakthrough, 18-year-old pop star’s Sour became the first debut album featuring two Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits this year (“Driver’s License” and “Good 4 U”). Rodrigo is a natural fit for a slot at this weekend’s iHeartRadio Music Festival, but even though she’s already a household name, she’s playing the event’s Daytime Stage—traditionally a showcase for rising stars—along with Saweetie, The Kid Laroi, All Time Low, Yungblud and others.
That the Daytime Stage is setting up this year at the quirky, experience-based Area15 is a testament to the off-Strip venue’s impact on the local art and entertainment landscape in its first year.
“Area15 was always meant to be a venue for different types of entertainment—music, theater, other live performances,” Howard Weiss, Area15’s director of sales and entertainment strategy, said when the venue launched an acclaimed international DJ series over the summer. “What we’ve built here is a blank canvas to create anything. One night it could be a music festival; the next day it could be an art show.”
Area15’s art installations have garnered the biggest buzz overall, but this year’s music events—including outdoor shows at the A-Lot—have demonstrated the sprawling venue’s versatility and engaged a younger, local audience. A lot of that same crowd will likely turn out to sing along to Rodrigo’s hits this weekend, not to mention The Kid Laroi’s breakout smash “Stay,” a collaboration with Justin Bieber.
Amazingly, Area15 is hosting events from both of the weekend’s fests. Electronic duo Gorgon City makes a tour stop at the A-Lot on September 16 in an official Life Is Beautiful kickoff show before the festival’s focus moves home to Downtown Las Vegas.
Sorting through iHeart’s star-studded fest lineup
My teenage niece was understandably excited about the opportunity to go to Las Vegas concerts and shows again in 2021. Since I sorta do that for my job, I was fired up, too. I imagined taking her to big headliner residency shows on the Strip, or better yet, cool concerts from up-and-comers I don’t even know about at the House of Blues or Brooklyn Bowl, music the kid could teach me about.
So what’s the one band she wanted to see live and in person more than any other? Weezer. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. Not Billie Eilish or Olivia Rodrigo or Dua Lipa, all of whom are also on the iHeartRadio festival bill this week. She wanted to rock out with the same nerds her dad and I listened to in high school and college. Really makes you feel old.
Her dad ended up taking her to see the questionably coiffed Rivers Cuomo and company, plus Green Day and Fallout Boy, at Petco Park in San Diego a few weeks back, so I guess I’m off the hook for Friday’s first night of iHeart at T-Mobile Arena, when Weezer will join Cheap Trick, Darius Rucker, J. Cole, Nelly, Florida Georgia Line, Walker Hayes, Finneas and the aforementioned Dua Lipa (she’s the iHeart artist I’d really like to see live). Saturday’s second night stars Eilish, Coldplay, Journey, Khalid, Sam Hunt and Lil Baby.
The iHeart lineup had at least one significant change recently: Maroon 5 dropped out, and Hayes—the country singer who played a free show at the Fremont Street Experience on September 10—jumped into the mix.
For Las Vegans or visitors who aren’t my niece, iHeart can be a great way to preview concert tours coming to Vegas soon, from artists such as Cole (at MGM Grand on October 16) and Journey (at Virgin and Caesars Palace in December). The two nights of music at T-Mobile also offer the only way to see artists who have postponed tours or don’t have scheduled dates, like Florida Georgia Line and Coldplay
IHEARTRADIO MUSIC FESTIVAL September 17 & 18, 7:30 p.m., $87+, T-Mobile Arena; September 18, 11 a.m., $82, Area15; iheart.com/music-festival.
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