Rock in Rio USA Festival – Las Vegas – May 8,9,15,16

Festivals are popping up in nearly every corner, from the soon-to-be-announced Kaaboo in Del Mar to the sophomore rollout of BottleRock in Napa. It is therefore not surprising that one of the larger international festivals is making its debut in the city built for entertainment.

Rock in Rio has long held the torch as the pre-eminent festivals in South America, rivaling the global draws of Coachella or Glastonbury. Rock in Rio USA Festival will make its two weekend debut in Las Vegas in May with a splash that should rival any newcomer.

The biggest eye-opener will undoubtedly be the City of Rock, touted as a new permanent open-air concert venue and spread out over 40 acres on The Strip near the corner of Sahara Avenue. With a capacity of 85,000 people, the open air venue will include a huge 262 foot long Main Stage. With three streets themed to the music of the US, UK and Brazil, the entire venue will be cashless. A Ferris wheel, street dancers, fireworks and a free zipline in front of the Main Stage add to the carnival atmosphere. For the well-heeled faint of heart, a 4000 capacity VIP area offers air conditioning and a buffet (both of which are staples in Vegas, after all).

An artist's rendering of Rock in Rio USA Festival.

An artist’s rendering of Rock in Rio USA Festival.

The Rock in Rio organizers have a legacy of 14 prior festivals, attended by 7 million music lovers, so we can expect a significant level of expertise in crowd management.

Unlike the duplicated dual weekend lineup at Coachella, the two weekend structure of Rock in Rio USA Festival is split into separate rock and pop lineups. Organizers tout that “all artists will play full sets/shows at different time so people can watch everyone perform. No overlaps in times/performances for any of the stages.”

Specifically, the City of Rock doors open at 3 PM with Rock Street performances starting at 3:30 PM and continuing throughout the entire day.  Sunset Stage performances will also begin at 3:30 PM with the first Main Stage artist performing at 5:30 PM each day.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 7.52.47 PMThe general admission tickets are rather reasonable at $298 per two day weekend, with one in-and-out re-entry. VIP packages at $498 per day are moving fast.

The rock weekend lineup looks eclectic:

May 8

  • Main Stage: No Doubt, Maná, The Pretty Reckless
  • Sunset Stage: Foster the People, Gary Clark Jr, Bleachers, Saints of Valory

May 9

  • Main Stage: Metallica, Linkin Park, Rise Against, Hollywood Undead
  • Sunset Stage: Deftones, Sepultura (feat. Steve Vai), Coheed and Cambria, Of Mice & Men

My teenage daughters meanwhile are salivating at the pop lineup:

May 15

  • Main Stage: Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Echosmith, Ivete Sangalo
  • Sunset Stage: Jessie J, Charli XCX, Tove Lo, James Bay

May 16

  • Main Stage: Bruno Mars, Sam Smith, Empire of the Sun
  • Sunset Stage: John Legend, Joss Stone, Magic!, Mikky Ekko


No word yet if Sam Smith's recent Grammy haul will affect the announced order of appearances.

No word yet if Sam Smith’s recent Grammy haul will affect the announced order of appearances.

Tickets available 




Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.