Rock in Rio charts quirky day 1 success

The inaugural, two-weekend U.S. edition of the Brazilian Rock in Rio festival is getting underway this weekend with its rock lineup. From wristbands to video screens in the bathrooms to lavish one-percenter cabanas to the actual music (onstage and off!) the L.A. Times music team will be investigating it all -- the wonderful, the miserable, the "wait, what?" -- and updating throughout the weekend. Keep checking back for the inside scoop.

Rock in Rio debuts to 82,000 fans

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Time)

[Rock in Rio] is not just to see the artists, it's an experience.
Festival founder Roberto Medina

Rock in Rio made it in South America and Europe. But how did the decades-old music festival fare in America?

For more than a year, organizers promised the Brazilian-born festival would not only make a major splash in a landscape packed with well-oiled multi-day offerings (Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, et al.) but also bring fresh energy to the Las Vegas Strip, where entertainment options are 24/7.

The inaugural weekend, which wrapped Saturday night, attracted 82,000 attendees to its first two days of concerts, rides and street performers on a site dubbed the “City of Rock.”

-- Gerrick Kennedy

Our full Friday night report: Slow start, then a wild party

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Neon mini-chapel weddings, $17 lobster tacos, free zip line rides, stellar musical performances, thin crowds, logistical nightmares, nervous organizers: read our full report from Day 1 of the inaugural Rock in Rio festival at the link below.

-- Gerrick Kennedy

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Day 1: mixed results

Free tickets for locals?

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Residents of high-rise buildings near the Rock in Rio festival grounds on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip were offered free passes to Day One of its inaugural U.S. edition. Not like they couldn't hear the music from their apartments anyway, says yoga instructor Angelica Govaert, 40, who attended the festival free of charge Friday.

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Foster the People, FTampa get the party started

As the sun sets, the fest finds a deep groove

Variety is the spice of Rock in Rio...?

The horror!

First impressions: a frustrating, costly start

First-day festival jitters have been apparent at the Rock in Rio festival in Las Vegas, but perhaps that's to be expected at the inaugural version of a major music festival.

It's been a frustrating opening nevertheless. This is a no-cash, no-credit card event, which, despite much advertising, was news to many. Attendees must acquire an electronic wristband, go to a "Top-Up Station" and load money onto it. Anything you want to buy must be done via wristband swipes. The problem? Of the four stations, only one was working at the start. You couldn't spend your money if you wanted to.

Beers are expensive: $12 for a big can of Corona. Lobster tacos are $17. Unlike Coachella, there's no free water here. As of 6:30 p.m., the Ferris wheel wasn't working. The lush grass that covers the manageably compact grounds is fantastic ... until you realize it's plastic turf.

Rapper Theophilus London's set was solid, but alas, more people were waiting in the line for the free zip-line ride than watching him. The biggest draw so far? Cirque du Soleil. (Psst! They're not that hard to see in Vegas!)

Sounds like a litany of complaints, certainly. But first impressions can be telling. Hopefully they're wrong in this instance.

-- Randall Roberts

Rock in Rio updates: Bleachers out, Theophilus London in and more

Early dispatches as Rock in Rio USA begins

Heading to Vegas? Here's everything you need to know about your Rock in Rio weekend

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Images of headliners Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, No Doubt and Metallica are everywhere on the Vegas Strip this weekend, but those making the trek to Vegas are already well aware of the bill. What about how to get there? Or who else is playing? Even spending cash doesn't work on-site the same way as other festivals.

Ahead of Friday's launch of Weekend 1 -- which will skew toward rock acts like No Doubt, Mana, Linkin Park, Foster the People and the Deftones -- here's the Times' official guide to everything you need to know outside of when Taylor Swift performs (FYI, she's not on until next weekend, at 11:10 p.m. May 15).

-- Gerrick Kennedy

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Is one more festival one too many?

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Dubbed "the biggest musical festival in the world," the Brazilian-born Rock in Rio festival will take over the Las Vegas Strip this weekend and next. Each weekend -- the first rock-themed, the second pop -- boasts a relatively small roster, connected less by aesthetics or "curation" than by name recognition and label affiliation.

Just what we need: another music festival to add to the collection. How many is too many? With all these massives dotting the season, it's a question worth asking. Is this the best way to experience music? Are listeners well served by this model?

Read on to find out.

-- Randall Roberts

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Get caught up: Why bringing Rock in Rio to Vegas is a gamble


They made it in South America and Europe. But can they hit the jackpot in Las Vegas?

That's the challenge for Roberto Medina, the Brazilian entrepreneur who is bringing his decades-old Rock in Rio music festival to the U.S. this month for two weekends of concerts spread across 40 acres on the Las Vegas Strip.

The show kicks off this afternoon. In advance, read up on what it took to get the international fest to the Strip, and what its organizers are up against in an American landscape already overflowing with festivals.

-- Gerrick Kennedy

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