Early Friday morning the sounds of Jessie J tearing through her single “Burning Up” could be heard clearly within a half-mile radius around the City of Rock as she ran through soundcheck.
The pop star is just one of many who will play the second weekend of the decades-old international festival making its American debut with two weekends of rock and pop offerings.
Last week’s kick off attracted 82,000 attendees to its first two days of concerts, rides and street performers on a site dubbed the “City of Rock.”
Metallica, No Doubt, Maná, Linkin Park, Foster the People, Gary Clark Jr., Deftones, Hollywood Undead, Coheed and Cambria, Of Mice and Men and Sepultura featuring Steve Vai were major draws, but the festival’s opening weekend attracted less than half of the two-day capacity of 170,000.
Between a pop-centric lineup including Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Tove Lo, Empire of the Sun, Big Sean, Joss Stone and Jessie J and the influx of people in Las Vegas for the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, the City of Rock just might see more action this weekend. Spread across 40 acres that once served as Circus Circus’ campground, the $25-million site at the northern end of the Strip boasts festival rarities such as permanent electrical, water and sewage infrastructure.
Aside from six stages of music -- including a 360-degree electronic stage that will have a nightclub feel -- there is a 600-foot zip line that will send festivalgoers flying over the main stage, a Ferris wheel in the shape of a giant roulette wheel and three themed "rock streets” inspired by the culture and music of the U.S., U.K. and Brazil.
In April, The Times traveled to get a tour of the grounds, where construction was wrapping up.
Inside what is now the posh, two-story VIP structure, men balanced on metal beams as they installed the balcony that provides a sweeping view of the three primary stages. And across the faux grass field, framework for the sleek, mirror-like main stage was being erected.
As the crews worked, festival founder Roberto Medina zipped around the site in a go-kart checking on progress -- and touting the many luxuries planned to give fans an experience unlike any other multi-day music festival.
“I want people to feel a city. Yes, it’s only two weeks, but it’s a real city,” the 66-year-old Brazilian entrepreneur and advertiser said.
Before things get underway on Friday, watch the City of Rock rise in under a minute courtesy of time-lapse cameras organizers installed onsite.
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