At the beginning of January 2021, more than 20,000 spectators attended a live concert held at a sports stadium in New Zealand. During the concert, revelers were not required to wear masks or social distance. Everything was as if the pandemic never happened.
This remarkable event that was held in Waitangi, New Zealand was part of a six-city summer tour featuring the nation’s most well-known band, Six60. Performances such as these have been taking place all across New Zealand. However, here in America, things have been completely different.
Cities such as Vegas that have made live concerts and performances a part and parcel of the city have been suffering in the pandemic. In Vegas particularly, where live performances are the bread and butter of many folks, cancellations have been the order of the day. While the pandemic has affected nearly every industry in the world, the music business has been hit especially hard.
Concerts and performances across the state have remained canceled or postponed across the board for the past 10 months, negatively impacting not just the musicians themselves, but also promoters, venue owners, and the support staff needed to make the shows take off without hitches, from sound engineers to caterers.
According to sources, the concert business in Vegas has lost billions in ticket sales last year. In addition to the millions lost in sponsorships, food, and drinks sales, merchandise sales, as well as other streams of income. Making these worse for the music business in Nevada has been the state’s restrictions on capacity.
So far, public gatherings in the state are limited to a maximum of 250 individuals or 50% of the venue’s capacity. These restrictions although created for the safety of the public have made concerts financially unviable with such few willing attendees.
When will festivals and live shows make a comeback in the Las Vegas Music Scene?
Even though arena-sized performances will not make a comeback probably until 2022, the good news is that several Vegas Hotels across the city are holding small performances here and there. Some Vegas production shows and live music events have resumed both on and off the Strip since the state relaxed some of its restrictions in the fall.
However, all the huge entertainment venues around the state remain empty, postponed, or canceled. T-Mobile Arena, which is the 2nd largest indoor facility capable of holding at least 20,000 individuals has been hosting hockey games without fans in attendance. The next musical event scheduled at the T-Mobile Arena is Justin Bieber’s tour stop which was re-scheduled last year to this year on June 4th.
Other well-known performances such as My Chemical Romance and Michael Bublé are expected to visit the Strip in the fall. At the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the next musical performance is not until September 4th when Harry Styles will be making an appearance. Both Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin are expected to perform at the MGM Grand in September as well.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center has the Psycho Las Vegas music festival planned to fall between August 20th and 22nd. This event will be followed by the re-scheduled heavy metal concert featuring Megadeth and Lamb of God. The event is expected to take place on September 10th.
What about the musical residencies that visitors have come to love and expect from the Strip? The 3 major venues in Vegas, namely the Park MGM’s Park Theater, Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater, and the Caesars Palace’s Colosseum have always featured mainstay performances from world-famous stars such as Maria Carey and Lady Gaga.
Sadly, these musical residency rooms have been missing in the city’s repertoire for a while now. The good news is that Sting’s residency is expected to start on October 29th at the Colosseum after singer Usher debuts his new show on July 16th.
Kelly Clarkson was supposed to begin her musical residency at Zappos Theater but was forced to cancel due to the pandemic. She still has not announced whether her residency will be rescheduled. Park Theater, on the other hand, does not appear to have residencies scheduled.
So what are Vegas residents and tourists to do?
Although major performances and concerts are going to be few and far in between, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of entertainment opportunities among local communities- one just needs to know where to look.
Local artists and venues have been performing to small crowds all over the state. With international tourist crowds unlikely to return to pre-pandemic numbers anytime soon, the best thing that people can do is support these local performances and artists. Anyone looking to enjoy themselves can find entertainment at local venues that are much better at making social distancing a reality than some of the big arenas and stadiums discussed above.
In the absence of these huge concerts, many communities have banded together and created cultural gatherings of their won. These gatherings come in many shapes and sizes including concerts performed on stoops and balconies as well as dancing in the street and the back of flatbed trucks.
In the coming weeks, casinos are also expected to resume their live performances. As infection cases start to drop and the number of vaccinations increases, entertainment will most likely gradually return in a full-scale manner that people have become accustomed to. How large scale these events are will depend on how things look in the future.
Vegas properties such as Luxor Hotel are already staging limited capacity shows. Most are still apprehensive about the state of things and are yet to announce the return of big-name headliners like Cirque du Soleil. You must keep in mind that the industry has been dormant longer than it has ever been.
As such, before these big can return, it will require some in-depth planning to get those massive productions that Vegas has been known for back on track. Even these big artists are unlikely to embark on bug performance on a national or global scale until they can be given the go-ahead that everything is safe. Until then, we wait.