Last weekend, Friday July 9e and Saturday 10e 2021 marked the full resumption of paid entertainment in Las Vegas. High demand events were everywhere, but tickets were gone. I was in town for the World Ticket Conference, where ticket markets, vendors and sellers were all stunned at how much demand had reappeared after a Covid-19 shutdown that had lasted almost sixteen months.
Normally, it’s a fairly well-connected group that knows how to get started in an event. However, the demand was so high that the people who run multi-million dollar ticket companies scrambled to find a ticket for Chappelle, Garth, Bruno or even Cirque du Soleil. The city was full and everyone wanted to be in one of the rooms where the party was taking place.
Bruno Mars returned to the Park MGM theater with his full production show: lasers, fireworks, confetti, and a surprisingly tight production that underscored the quality of his group, the way they joined Bruno in alternately waving the crowd. , by participating in the dance or building the sound layers behind Bruno who brought back all his many skills to an audience. It was a pop music concert with all the whistles and bells, and that was exactly what the audience had been missing out on as they were locked up at home during the pandemic. Bruno Mars was in great shape, with multiple solo dance sequences which were the highlights of his show in addition to his journey through the deep playlist of hits he has created over the years.
Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan performed at the MGM Grand Arena on Thursday and Friday night. Here, over 12,000 people showed up for a comedy show where tickets seemed to start at $ 250.00 and go up quickly from there. Bruno and Chappelle / Rogan both used Yonder pouches to lock fans’ phones. I’ve seen this in smaller shows before, but 12,000 people is a lot of people trying to get in or out of an arena and the extra time to lock and unlock covers adds uncertainty to the timeline. However, it was refreshing to see the people inside the places interacting, rather spiraling deeper and deeper into the siren calls that circulated from deep inside a rabbit hole on the internet. It was also the honor of talent because an incredibly expensive event had production value which can be summed up as: a bare stage in the center of the floor with a stool and microphone, video screens for people on all sides the stage could see and a DJ. I would bet that the cost of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police shutting down all access points to the MGM Grand Arena with police cars and two trucks was at least as much as the entire production used. by Chappelle and Rogan.
It was Saturday night, the 10the of July which made me the most curious. That night Bruno performed to his usual full house at the Park Theater. There were at least 6,300 in the room. Right across the access road to the T-Mobile arena was the UFC 264 McGregor-Poirier fight with Donald Trump among the 19,000 in attendance. Across the street, the MGM Grand Arena hosted a viewing party for those who couldn’t attend the UFC fight in person. And, diagonally across Highway 15, Garth Brooks was playing 67,000 at Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Raiders football team.
As an experienced participant in live events, it seemed like a disaster in the making. Even the freeway signs for both days were flashing “plan your route” because so many people were going to be moving in such a small area, on top of everything in a sold-out Las Vegas. But, Las Vegas has a job, and that is to keep the people who frequent the Strip happy. Garth started at 7:00 p.m., Bruno started at 9:00 p.m. and the UFC was called up at 3:15 p.m. with the first preliminary fights, then the preliminary fights took place at 6:15 p.m. before the main event which was scheduled to take place at 8:00 p.m.
I was staying south of the main Strip area then, with dinner reservations at a favorite sushi restaurant northwest of the Strip. I had planned to take a route east avoiding the central section of Highway 15 which ran along the central section of the Strip casinos. On leaving, I turned on Waze to see how he ordered me to go. Incredibly, at 7 p.m. Waze asked me to drive Hwy 15 straight into the heart of the Triangle of Events, and it was right. Traffic proceeded at normal speeds even as we saw lines of cars west of the freeway pass through the police presence to enter Garth’s concert and traffic east of the freeway. towards the UFC and Bruno.
Those who planned the traffic management did their job well. By staggering the start times of the various major events, the city was able to absorb the movement of people in a way that I rarely see. Usually, it only takes one major event in a stadium to block traffic in all directions. Las Vegas needs to move people fast, because time wasted in casinos is money wasted.
The variety of entertainment in the city has always been amazing. This weekend it was amplified by the way the various hosts celebrated the return of large-scale events. Justin Beiber performed on Friday night at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Hotel. On Saturday, he took a surprise 10 song tour to Wynn’s new Delilah Dinner Club. The night before, Dave Chappelle made a comedy to Delilah with his performance to a full house at the MGM Grand Arena.
The hotels were full and the city was full. The city was teeming with visitors ready to have fun. They didn’t mind the hour-long taxi lines. They didn’t complain about the prices. You had trouble getting a reservation for dinner anywhere. The laws of statistical probability continued to operate at all table games. Still, everyone seemed delighted to be out and ready for the adventure. The world had reopened and everyone wanted to prevent Dave Attell from momentarily realizing “you should have been there”. Barring a Covid resurgence, this year is going to be spectacularly fun.