Rock in Rio in Las Vegas
08.05.2015 - 10.05.2015 75 °F
Many of you who know me know that I'm a bit of a music junkie. I went to my first concert in 2000 to see the Black Eyed Peas, Lit (Remember them?), and No Doubt perform at what-was-then the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Marysville, California. The mother of one of my very best friends, Trent Mason, had gotten tickets and asked if I wanted to tag along. At that point, I had very limited exposure to music and pretty much listened to whatever Carson Daly told me to listen to on TRL. I was 14 - I had no clue at that point what I liked and what I didn't like. When I got back from that No Doubt show, I was not only hooked on No Doubt, I was hooked on live music. Since that time, I have seen No Doubt live for every subsequent album that they released and consistently listened to their music in the 15 years since.
In 2003, my friends, Manny, Christy, and Drew wanted to go to a concert called "Summer Sanitarium" in San Francisco. Manny and Christy had not been together very long (they are now married and have a beautiful boy), and Christy's parents said that she could only go if I came along. I was oddly viewed as the "responsible" friend. We all know that I was undeserving of such a label, but with nine concerts under my belt and thirsty for more, I signed on. We made the drive to San Francisco from Sacramento with Drew at the wheel and Metallica's "...And Justice for All" blaring from the radio speakers.
A friend had shown me the Metallica's S+M concert VHS (yeah, I'm old) , and I remember the first time I ever got chills down my spine to a song was listening Kurt Hammett's solo for "Nothing Else Matters" on said VHS. Impressed with the music, I had picked up a copy of the Black album at Tower Records (yet another reference that dates me). However, at this point, I was still a relative newbie to the Metallica catalog.
We got to Summer Sanitarium, and the concert was nothing short of epic. Mudvayne started off the performance and I remember the mosh pit opening like a huge chasm during an earthquake when they played their hit, "Dig." Sacramento's native Deftones screamed through an amazing set, followed by then-start-up band Linkin Park ripping through their album, "Meteora." Limp Bizkit came out and gave an intense performance and then we stood in awe as Metallica took the stage.
I had never seen a band so incredible, so amazing live, I was awestruck the whole time. Even though I knew very few songs of theirs, I found myself screaming the chorus at the end of each song, having just learned the words through the first two iterations. James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett played a stirring rendition of "Of Wolf and Man" as they stared out to the full moon that loomed over the stadium. I walked out of the stadium completely exhausted but with the full knowledge that Metallica was now my favorite band, and I would learn every song they ever played. 12 years later, I have all their albums, have been to four additional concerts across California and Arizona, and they are still, by far, my favorite band.
Since seeing No Doubt for my first concert in 2000, I have been to over 80 live shows from San Francisco to Mozambique. I've seen everything from Afro-Cuban music to Dubstep to Heavy Metal to Pop. I can't overstate my love for music and my passion for live music. Because of this, many of my bucket list items are actually concerts: Wacken in Germany, Rock AM Ring in Germany, Rock in Rio in Brazil, and Tomorrowland in Belgium. Rock in Rio is one of the most amazing festivals in the world with headliners like the Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Iron Maiden, and Metallica. In 2013, it sold out 200,000 tickets in less than 4 hours. It had started in Brazil but had editions in Spain and Portugal. In 2015, I learned it was coming to the United States.
I knew immediately that I was going to buy tickets without even seeing the headliners. This is one of the premier concerts in the world, and I had a chance to cross it off my bucket list in the US. When they announced the line-up, I was blown away by the headliners: No Doubt on Friday and Metallica on Saturday. Here they were, my first live band and my favorite live band, sharing a stage. Two completely different acts (Metallica fans don't typically identify as No Doubt fans), it cosmically felt that the concert was made just for me. I bought the two tickets for Danielle and I, booked our flights, and anxiously awaited the second weekend in May. Rock in Rio would be my 86th live show.
I also convinced one of my best friends, Andre, to purchase his ticket to the festival. Him and I have had numerous adventures together before (see http://mattbeymer0.travellerspoint.com/ for a taste of one said adventure), and I thought this would be the perfect chapter for us to write next. His girlfriend, Kimbrie, a new friend to Danielle and I, also decided that she was down for the concert. Thus we embarked on what would be the coolest double date ever.
We met up with Andre and took the monorail over to the new MGM Resorts Village by the Circus Circus casino. Rock and Rio would be the first concert held at the newly created concert grounds, and everything went incredibly smoothly from getting there to navigating different parts of the venue.
Day 1 was filled with great performances from Gary Clark Jr., The Pretty Reckless, Mana, and No Doubt. In my mind, Mana stole the show. Their 30 years of live music experience really came through, and Danielle liked the set other than getting a water bottle thrown at her head.
Andre and I picked up where we finished our last journey...sort of
The view from our room
Danielle having a bit of NY pizza before Day 1 kicks off
I have no idea what this thing is, but it was amazing
Beautiful weather for Day 1
Wasn't this guy in the new Mad Max movie?
Gary Clark Jr. ripping it on the guitar
The to-be-wed couple hanging out at the Gary Clark Jr. set
I hope they're hearing this music in space, so amazing
Mana playing "Como Quisiera"
The main stage bathed in light
No Doubt goes acoustic
And then ramps it back up
On Day 2, Kimbrie arrived in Las Vegas to join us for the last half of the festival. I decided to take a "shortcut" and got the group lost on the way over there, but we ended up making it to see Of Mice and Men open Day 2. I have their album "Restoring Force," which I highly recommend for metal heads out there, but I had never seen them live. They reminded me of an early version of Atreyu. Amazing energy, great live sound, and awesome audience interaction. They were an awesome band to start the day with.
Of Mice and Men opening up Day 2
The new Atreyu
Got my colors on
The concert had oddly eclectic food
Look at this beautiful couple!
Later on in the day, we check out Coheed and Cambria which sounded okay, but we all seemed to be generally bored. After they were finished, we saw Sepultura and Steve Vai which Danielle really got into. It was amazing to see Steve Vai live, easily one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Check out this great cover of Highway to Hell with 2Cellos if you want to hear what he sounds like: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfGggAGITwg. After that set, we rushed over to enjoy Rise Against. I have seen Rise Against four times previously over the years, and they never disappoint. Tim McIlrath, the lead singer of Rise Against, always has amazing energy and puts on a wonderful show.
Right after his set, Tim ran over and did a duet with Chino Moreno on the Deftones hit "Passenger" which was so cool to see for a fan like me who loves Deftones AND Rise Against. I was sad that Al Davis (Danielle's dad and Deftones fan) wasn't there to see it.
The concert grounds with the Stratosphere in the background
Chino Moreno of the Deftones and Tim McIlrath of Rise Against singing "Passenger" from the album, White Pony
I just thought this one was pretty
After the Deftones, Kimbrie, Andre, and Danielle were looking at me like a kid in a candy store because I really wanted to run up to the front to see Linkin Park and Metallica. Many people understandably like their personal space at concerts, but I am someone who wants to be up front for the bands I love. As a younger person, I disdained the idea of "seats," but I know that option has been a more frequent selection as I've gotten older. But for Linkin Park and Metallica, I wanted, NEEDED, to be up in the front.
They assured me I wasn't ditching them and they would be fine, so I ran off like a little kid who is just entering a theme park for the first time. Linkin Park's set was the most amazing I've seen from the group, and Chester even had a duet with the lead singer from Of Mice and Men which was really cool to see.
After Linkin Park played for a little over an hour, Metallica took the stage. They played the usual hits like "Master of Puppets" and "Enter Sandman," but they also played less well-known tracks like "King Nothing" and "Disposable Heroes." They also performed their covers of "Turn the Page" and "Whiskey in the Jar" I sang at the top of my lungs for every track (actually knowing the words this time!). Although I've seen them six times at this point, they have never failed to impress me.
The Ecstasy of Gold
I got close
Well, not that close, the camera had great zoom
If you haven't had a taste of their live performance, check out my crappy recording of "Sad but True"
Kirk shredding on guitar
Rob on bass and backing vocals
The sixth time = Just as amazing as the first
As I ran to meet my three companions after the show, they laughed as I walked towards them because I apparently had a really excited look on my face. There's a unique joy that concerts bring to my life, and I have been extremely lucky to see some amazing acts over the years. Just five days after we got back, my long-time friend Karina and I went to see Muse play a small club of 500 people in Los Angeles which was quite possibly one of the best shows I've ever seen. I have been incredibly lucky, and I hope Danielle and I can do this until we're old and frail. Maybe we'll just move from the pit to the seats, but time will tell.