In Las Vegas, there’s no shortage of entertainment and shows to see. From the nightly promenades of people dressed in their most elegant gowns or glittering threads, to the musicians they’ve come to see, there’s a performance everywhere you glance. While the performers in Las Vegas are incredibly talented, the size of the stage they are performing on alters the entire experience. You can sit in a room with thousands of other fans just like yourself while watching a band execute a perfect performance with close-up shots on the big screens, or you can sit so close to the performers that you start to worry that your fingers and toes might get stepped on. But with a little consideration, you can have the best of both kinds of Vegas shows.
Sin City is known to have some legendary acts grace its stage for weeks at a time during residency performances. And the only time the stage gets even bigger than headliners is when festivals pass through, such as EDC. Otherwise, the biggest names in music past and present are in constant rotation. Harry Styles and Lady Gaga have recently performed at the Park MGM’s Dolby Live theater and there are many more acts slate for the months ahead. It’s even been rumored by a security guard that Lady Gaga might bring back her Enigma show in early 2022.
But while the quality of musicians fans can choose from in Las Vegas at any given time is unparalleled by other cities, the large shows are a jaw-dropping experience above typical concerts. Everything about these huge shows are engineered to “wow” the audience, from the scale of the stage, to the design and technology used to create an amazing on-stage presence. Some can even sit right on the stage for an intimate view of the larger-than-life show, but that is only for a very few people.
Like most concerts, attendees can buy drinks and stadium snacks like popcorn and pretzels to snack on during the performance. Those who have patience or plan ahead can also enjoy one of the many restaurant concepts that are offered right across from the doors of venues located within resorts. If you’re seeing a show at Park MGM, for instance, make time to eat at Roy Choi’ Best Friend.
Despite how impressive those large-scale spectacles can be, some of the best performances in Las Vegas can be found in much smaller rooms. The bars and lounges throughout the hotels and resorts employ quality musicians to entertain those passing through. And in NoMad, the hotel located just next to the Park MGM, there’s a stage made up of nothing more than the space between the circular booths extending through the center of the intimate Nomad Library. That’s where Brian Newman and the four additional core musicians of Lady Gaga’s act go to jam after her performance closes. Newman’s show, After Dark, combines the best of Vegas acts like show girls and surprise guests who join him on stage from time to time. People like Ronnie Foster who played along side Stevie Wonder and George Benson as well as Brockett Parsons who played the circular piano during Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball were there in the small audience and performed throughout the act. It’s this setting where that allows for musicians to simply cut loose and enjoy themselves whether they nail every note or not that give the shows their charge as if the electricity behind the instruments is a current running through the room.
So, while you might believe that the headliners are the primary performers to see, there is certainly much to be gained by going to see the supporting musicians or the lounge acts too. Together, fans can experience both the best of big performers and the classic appeal of Vegas lounge shows — often times all under the same roof.
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist. You can often find her on the highway somewhere between Florida and North Carolina or taking life slow in Europe.