By the time Rock in Rio had wrapped up its two-weekend run in Las Vegas on Saturday night, more than 172,000 people had attended the event’s U.S. debut, 4,000 had ridden zip lines 64 feet in the air and 20 couples had been married on the festival’s grounds just off the Vegas Strip.
The makeshift wedding chapel was one of many attractions on the 4,000-square-foot grounds of the festival, located in the shadow of the aging Circus Circus hotel and the newer SLS.
One of the final marriage ceremonies Saturday night included an Elvis impersonator singing “Love Me Tender” after the nuptials were read. As John Legend played to a packed crowd on the main stage, a small group that had gathered around the open chapel threw rice as the newly married couple made their way off the stage and toward the beer stands.
Not all who witnessed the wedding were enthusiastic. “What a great way to start a life together,” said one woman sarcastically as she sipped a fruity beverage, her two small children at her side.
Rock in Rio is a brand-name festival in Brazil and across Latin America. Its launch in Vegas on May 8 marked the event’s debut here.
Weekend 1 featured a rock lineup that included Mana and Linkin Park. The festival’s second weekend was populated with pop artists such as Ed Sheeran and Jessie J. According to festival promoters, the second weekend attracted about 8,000 more attendees.
Compared with other music festivals proliferating around the country, Rock in Rio USA had a decidedly Vegas flavor.
The festival’s “Rock Streets” — the grounds where food, alcohol and street performers are the star — had more brand names than a mall, plus acrobats and professional dancers who had the crowd doing the “YMCA” at one point.
It also had a Vegas staple: gawking tourists toting open containers of alcoholic beverages. Unlike California’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where drinking is confined to designated, tightly packed areas, Nevada laws allowed for Rio’s drinkers to roam freely.
Still the all-ages crowd appeared relatively tame compared with cavorting revelers outside on the Strip. The festival closed early Sunday morning after a set by headliner Bruno Mars.
In Vegas style, many Rio attendees headed off to other clubs and casinos via taxis after the show, in search of more fruity drinks.