Rock of Vegas brings arena sound downtown at Fremont Street Experience
By Nina King
Photography by Christopher DeVargas
Makeup and Hair by Zee Clemente
Styling by Jimi Urquiaga
Models: Sviatlana Sapeha, Aaron Mann
provided by Envy Model Management
This summer, the hard-rocking bands that made the ’80s roar are recapturing that glory in a whirlwind of sound that echoes all up and down Fremont Street. From Vince Neil to Night Ranger, some of the most iconic sounds and bands of the era fill the weekend nights in Rock of Vegas.
The themed event couldn’t have come at a better time, with the big-screen opening of Rock of Ages bringing that classic sound into prominence.
For the past few years Fremont Street Experience has gone all out, traveling through the decades summer to summer. One year the ’60s made it big on the street, with music and psychedelic décor, while the next it was the ’70s. Last year, the ’80s came on big, with original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood presiding over an eclectic mix of bands that embodied that generation.
But maybe the ’80s were just too big for one summer. This year, all those arena bands that thrilled us are getting their due. With Rock of Vegas, Fremont Street turns into a metal lover’s paradise, with a few bands kicking out power ballads, too. This year’s lineup of incredible names started with Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe, and so far such acts as Dennis DeYoung of Styx and Night Ranger have hit the Street with free concerts.
You’ll find Asia featuring John Payne on the 3rd Street stage this Saturday at 9 p.m. Asia was one of the first arena bands to couple their sound with the videos that made MTV so big. The supergroup was responsible for such hits as “Sole Survivor,” “Heat of the Moment” and “Wildest Dreams.” Vocalist/bassist Payne, who took over in 1991 when original Asia vocalist John Wetton left to pursue other projects, was instrumental in albums such as Aqua and Arena. Today, Asia featuring John Payne consists of Payne, (lead vocals, bass), Erik Norlander on keyboards, Bruce Bouillet on guitar and Jay Schellen on drums, playing a wide range of Asia songs from the past 30 years.
What’s on tap for the next couple of months? On July 21, Warrant and Skid Row play, Bret Michaels is up Aug. 4, Survivor is Aug. 18 and glam rock’s Dee Snider of Twisted Sister hits the stage Sept. 1.
Keeping with that theme, every weekend features acts on three stages that capture the sound and feel of the original bands. The band Arena fires up the songs of Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Poison (plus plenty of other bands). Dirty Pairadice is another tribute band with power behind them. And the Rock Candy Sticky Sweet stage production puts on one killer show.
Overhead, of course, is Fremont Street Experience’s iconic light show, Viva Vision, a multimedia event that pairs music and enormous videos. New for Rock of Vegas is Bon Jovi—Wanted in Vegas, featuring songs handpicked by Bon Jovi for the production. Others include videos showcasing Kiss, The Doors and Queen.
Yeah, this year the time has come—girls, rock your boys and turn up the volume to 11.
Asia featuring John Payne
Fremont Street Experience, 3rd Street Stage, 9 p.m. July 7, free. vegasexperience.com