From Elvis to System of a Down: How Las Vegas Become the World’s Most Diverse Musical Hub

Las Vegas might be known as the gambling capital of the world. However, in among the neon lights, casino chips and slot machines, music plays an integral part in the city’s success. In fact, even in the early days when Sin City was just getting into its groove, concerts offered a foundation on which an all-round entertainment hub was built. For example, in 1960, the now infamous Rat Pack stepped on the stage inside The Sands Hotel and Casino. As Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop won over fans with their crooning ways, a trend was born.

A Musical Trend is Born

Fast-forward to the late-sixties and everyone from Elvis to Tom Jones held residencies at the top casinos. So, what would push casino owners to pay the biggest music acts in the world vast sums of money to live and perform inside their venues? Simple: cross-market appeal. Yes, Las Vegas was built on the likes of blackjack and roulette. However, like any economy, a single source of income is a risky business. For casinos owners, catering to hardened gamblers and no one else wasn’t a bet they were willing to make. Therefore, to ensure the city was appealing to all types, hosting major musical events became common practice.

When you survey the current line-up, things are no different today than they were back in the sixties. From the Bellagio to Caesars Palace, every major casino has some sort of connection to the world of music. Today, however, owners have more people to appeal to. Thanks to the advent of the internet, many first-time visitors have played some form of casino game online. Whether it’s via social media platforms such as Facebook or on real money sites like those listed here, more “novices” have been exposed to some form of gaming than was previously the case. Obviously, this makes the potential customer base a lot larger than it was. However, that doesn’t mean casino owners are investing less in music now than they were back in the sixties and seventies.

Artists Make Las Vegas their Home

For example, in 2018 alone, the strip played host to Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin, ZZ Top and Elvis Costello. In 2019, Celine Dion, the Backstreet Boys, Cher and Aerosmith will follow in the footsteps of Elvis et al and hold residencies at the largest venues. Interestingly, it’s not just inside the casinos where the music happens. Trading off of Las Vegas’s reputation for hosting major musical events, some of the leading festivals have visited the city. In particular, Las Vegas has become a favourite destination for rock lovers. Although you probably won’t see post-metal outfit God Alone shredding guitar licks under the searing Nevada heat, metal acts aren’t a rarity.

Indeed, when Rock in Rio landed in Vegas in 2018, Metallica topped the bill. Beyond that, Las Rageous Music Festival was a chance for hardcore rock rans to mosh along with bands such as Clutch and Atreyu. Beyond festivals, System of Down made a rare appearance in 2018, while many of the stage shows such as Cirque de Soleil One are now focused on stars like Michael Jackson. Put simply, wherever you go in Sin City, there’s music. Whether it’s a pop star playing out their final years in an intimate theatre, rocks stars making noise on a stage or performers imitating musical icons, the strip is always humming with tunes.

One City, Multiple Musical Offerings

Yes, gambling is still the central attraction. What’s more, everything is always angling towards that. For casino owners, offering alternative forms of entertainment is a way of bringing in new customers that will, in turn, place a few bets while they’re in town. However, leaving that fact aside, Las Vegas is much more of a music hub than you might have expected. Indeed, if you’re ever wanted to visit a single destination and watch multiple artists or bands perform, Las Vegas is the perfect destination.