Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vegas Randomness

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas for the I Heart Radio Music Festival. I work for the company that put the whole thing together, produced the basic promos that ran on all our company’s country music radio stations and was “paid” with a trip to the event. Here are some random thoughts and observations about the event and Vegas:

- The event was a music-lover’s dream: two nights, twenty or more well-known performers from numerous genres, all set in Las Vegas.

Kenny Chesney

- Music highlight: Kenny Chesney owned his part of the second night, even though he was sandwiched between high-energy, bass thumping, rap-based pop acts Nikki Menaj and Lady Gaga. And the screaming 20-year-old girls behind me who sang along with every Nikki and Gaga song also sang along with every Chesney song. People have their favorites but they are not limited.

- Vegas is hedonism, opulence, sex, money, luxury, money, entertainment, money and money.

- There is literally a “feel” in the town that you sense the moment you get off the plane. Is it marketing or is it something in the raw piece of desert this mecca was built on? The atmosphere and aura seem to be karma’s evil twin or maybe it’s sinister second-cousin.

- Another music highlight: Steven Tyler opened the second night. His band included Jeff Beck on lead guitar and Sting on bass. Wow!

- The MGM Grand complex is a city unto itself. My room, uhh suite, was in one of the Signature towers, part of the complex. The concerts were in the MGM Garden Arena, also part of the complex. There are fully-enclosed walkways connecting all of this plus the Grand itself, the casino, numerous bars, restaurants of all styles and price points and at least two Starbucks. It is possible to spend your entire visit without going outside.

Front of MGM Grand Hotel and Casino

- Another music highlight: Lady Gaga and Sting singing TWO duets. My first thought was ‘who put these two together? Did somebody have to talk Gaga into this?” Turns out it was probably her idea. She gave him the most amazing, heart-warming introduction and their first song was “Stand By Me.” Definitely didn’t see that coming. Then they did his song “King of Pain.”

- I did actually leave the MGM complex and walked up the strip to Harrah’s to have lunch at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. Just what I expected: beer comes in a mason jar, one signature menu item is the Big Chili Cheeseburger (they promise extra napkins and yes, you need them), there is plenty of Toby and Oklahoma stuff on the walls and there are numerous big-screen TVs with college football games on.

I definitely understand the seductiveness of Vegas. I’ll go back. I’ll limit my exposure because I could easily be sucked into the whole experience.

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