The Biggest Rock Concerts Ever Held in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is famous for being the global capital of good times. For decades, the city has had the slogan “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, a nod to the many rock ‘n’ roll activities that are on offer to its visitors.
The city in the desert is the world leader in boxing matches, live musical performances, white-knuckle thrill rides, designer and boutique shops, decadent dining, and, of course, casinos. Over the years, Vegas has given the world many things including the casino resort, Mark Twain, Levi’s jeans, and the quick divorce industry. It’s also the city where Texas Hold’em became popular and the famous World Series of Poker was founded back in 1970. Today, millions flock to the city to take part in this and other tournaments held at legendary venues like The Horseshoe, Golden Nugget, and Venetian.
But even the most dedicated of professional poker players can be tempted away from the tables for some of the other entertainment on offer in Sin City, especially the myriad rock concerts that are held up and down the strip. Over the years, many of the most legendary names in rock and metal have performed in Vegas and continue to do so to this day.
Gene Simmons recently announced plans for KISS’ second Las Vegas residency, which will take place in 2022. This will actually be fans’ last time to see the band live as he and Paul Stanley will be hanging up their guitars after this year.
When they do that, they’ll be calling time on very long careers that have spanned almost 50 years.
KISS first performed in Las Vegas way back in 1975, playing two shows at what was called the Sahara Space Center. They were paid relatively small amounts for their time, receiving just $700 for both shows. Even adjusted for inflation ($3,600), that was still a bargain for the promoter, Gary Naseef.
Their two shows took place on May 29th and 30th, 1975, and were performed with just a few hours break in between, with the first starting at 8 PM and the second at 2 AM the next morning. They were sellouts thanks to a huge marketing campaign by Naseef who took advantage of the band’s “unconventional” stylings, makeup choices, and liberal use of pyrotechnics to create some eye-catching TV ads.
The exact setlist of what the young KISS performed to their Army is unknown, but it was likely their biggest hits from the Dressed to Kill, Hotter Than Hell, and KISS albums.
KISS were, by no means, the first rock band to perform in Las Vegas. It’s difficult to track down who got that title, but it’s safe to say that Led Zeppelin were one of the trailblazers when they took to the stage at the Ice Palace sometime in 1969. Historical records contradict each other about the exact date, though it was most likely August 7.
The band had only released one album at this point, but that still gave them plenty of great material to perform, including Train Kept a Rollin’, Dazed and Confused, and You Shook Me.
Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses are no strangers to Las Vegas. The band have played together several times in the city, including during their three-year reunion tour titled the Not in This Lifetime… Tour. This was a big moment for the band and its fans as it was the first time that Slash, Axl Rose, and Duff McKagan had performed together in 23 years.
The first stop on the first leg of the tour was West Hollywood where Guns N’ Roses performed an intimate gig for 500 people at The Troubadour. However, it was in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena when the real shows would begin. Across two consecutive days in early April 2016, the band played to sell-out crowds of nearly 29,000 before heading off to Coachella the following week.
This wouldn’t be the last time Nevada would welcome Guns N’ Roses either; their most recent appearance was late August 2021 when they played at the 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium.