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Has Las Vegas Become A Music Festival Destination?

(Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

Ryn Weaver performs during the Life is Beautiful festival on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Life is Beautiful. I Heart Radio. Alienstock. And that’s just this weekend. 

Festivals didn’t use to be a staple of the Las Vegas music scene. But as the nature of large-scale music events -- and the Strip -- have changed over the last decade, so has Las Vegas’ festival offerings. 

Now, the concert calendar is full of diverse, multi-artist events ranging from the intimate Big Blues Bender, which took over the Hard Rock Hotel two weeks ago, to Electric Daisy Carnival, which fills an entire racetrack in May. 

EDC also offers rides, performance troupes, art cars, fireworks and more. It’s the new model of the music festival. 

Jason Bracelin is a music reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He said festival organizers are taking advantage of the natural infrastructure of Las Vegas.

"This town has a long track record of being able to put on big events," he said, "With the shift towards residencies as it's just become a more music-centric town. It's the confluence of those things that make it more of a destination market."

Plus, the city has shifted from being the place where musicians come to play at the end of their careers. It is now a place where top tier acts draw in an audience.

In addition, Las Vegas has the ability to put on shows that are different from the festivals of the past. EDC also offers rides, performance troupes, art cars, fireworks and more. It’s the new model of the music festival. 

"It is such an immersive experience," Bracelin said. "It is really about the experience. I don't even think you have to necessarily be a huge fan of the music to just want to immerse yourself in this big adult playland."

Bracelin noted that EDC often sells out before the lineup of musicians and DJs is even released.

Andrea Domanick is a freelance music and culture journalist. She said EDC is part of the overall shift for music festivals away from being just a place for people to listen to several bands in one day to an experience.

"We live in a time where we're both way more connected and way more disconnected than ever because of the internet and social media," she said, "I think people crave face-to-face interaction. They crave something that is not necessarily a product they can buy but an experience they can remember."

However, Domanick said that those experiences need to be unique and memorable enough that people will want to shell out several hundred dollars for.

She said there are more smaller festivals cropping up that feature only a few thousand people and a carefully selected lineup of artists but they present their own challenge.

"How do you grow something without robbing it of what ultimately makes it special?" she said.

Jason Bracelin, music reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal; Andrea Domanick, freelance music and culture journalist;  Mike Prevatt, producer, Nevada Public Radio



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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.