Blvd Brew Fest – Las Vegas

By Lesa Browning

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The world famous Las Vegas strip was the site of a brand new music festival this year.  Combining the excitement of Las Vegas with the long running success of the legendary Oregon Brewers Fest, the new Boulevard Brew Fest debuted on Saturday, September 27 th at the MGM Resorts Village. Looking to be the new Gold Standard in both craft beer and music festivals, Brew Fest had more than 50 speciality beers available for tasting, many that are not available locally. Even more importantly, from my point of view anyway, Brew Fest had music…. GREAT music!  (this is a music site folks and I happen to be a vodka drinker) Before there even was a Boulevard Brew Fest, there was a Kings of Leon tour in support of the band’s Mechanical Bull album, stopping in Vegas at the MGM Grand Arena. I bought VIP tickets and the next thing I knew Ticket Master was sending me an email informing me I was entitled to a partial refund.  The refund part quickly caught my attention.  Apparently Kings of Leon had been asked to Headline this festival that was now being produced by “Rock ‘n Roll Wine and MGM Resorts International Productions.” So the whole shebang was moved outside to the village.  Kings of Leon along with their fabulous opening acts, Young The Giant and KONGOS.  Score!

The VIP option here was amazing.  We had an easy entrance and my 12 year old and I happened to be the very first VIP guests let in by the extremely courteous VIP Nation staff.  There were a few minutes of uncertainty as security and all the various departments coordinated everything, but within ten minutes we were in the gates and all was in order.  The festival grounds were clean and orderly and well laid out.  There were at least three full bars that were well stocked for premium cocktails in addition to the amazing number of speciality beers available.  A large area off to one side was sectioned off for food trucks selling a variety of items.     A large merch stand sold tee shirts, hats, vinyl and posters from all three main stage acts as well as a small assortment for the artists playing on the smaller second stage.  The vendors all seemed to take both cash and credit cards and an ATM machine was available within the festival grounds. For the General Admission guests, the only restrooms available were portable toilets. VIP ticket holders had access to a great gated area just to the left side of the main stage. Within this area were very CLEAN air conditioned restrooms, a full bar, food available for purchase from STACK restaurant, an early Happy Hour from 5:00 – 6:30, some seating, artificial grass for sitting and a great view of the stage.

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I came to Blvd. Brew Fest because my daughter is a huge Young The Giant fan. I will be reviewing this exact line up when they play Sacramento in a few days but was unable to bring my tween along, so I decided to take her to Vegas.  (before it was a beer festival….)  As many of you know, I have been a big supporter of KONGOS for a long time, so the fact that they were opening didn’t hurt.  So, clad in tees to support our favorite bands of the night, we joined the rest of the crowd and staked out a spot in the VIP area. The start was a bit delayed, maybe 30 minutes, but we were entertained with the twitter feed being displayed on two huge screens.  The crowd was fun and we all seemed to enjoy making new friends, taking pictures and discussing our favorite artists.  The VIP area was not overly crowded, nor was the GA area.  By the time the music started the venue was definitely full, but not sardine packed.

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The KONGOS took the stage, opening with Hey I Don’t Know.  They played eight songs during their approximately 35 minute set.  (and for the reader that asked, no, Dylan did not wear shoes. I have never seen him wear shoes on stage) The songs were of course familiar and included Take It From Me, Come With Me Now, a cover of  the Beatles Come Together and my favorite I’m Only Joking. (yes, I know…..  language, get over it folks it is rock music!)  I may be a little biased, but the general consensus around me was that they were amazing and did not have a long enough set.

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There was just a short wait for Young The Giant to come on to the stage.  They had a bit more stage time, maybe about 50 minutes. Now, I am not as familiar with Young The Giant as I am the other two bands, so I was really looking forward to their set.  I was not disappointed.  Sameer Gadhia, lead vocalist of the band, had an array of small percussion instruments and he used them in a fun and quirky way that really showed off his personality. The band played in support of their second album, Mind Over Matter, and after opening with Slow Drive/Anagram they played several of their old and new hits including Apartment, Cough Syrup, Mind Over Matter and My Body. The band was very well received by the diverse crowd and seemed to have quite a loyal following of fans who were in attendance.

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Finally the time had come for the main event.  We had made friends with a very fun group of people from Iowa and Canada who had traveled to Vegas for one person’s 40th birthday.  They were familiar with KONGOS and had actually caught up with Dylan and Johnny before the concert and taken a photo. But really, they were there for Kings of Leon and were HUGE fans!  When I say huge, I mean really, really HUGE fans!  It was fun to experience the opening song, Supersoaker, surrounded by so much excitement! Suddenly grown women forgot they had children at home, jobs and responsibilities and were just in the moment, loving every second of the music.  This is why we attend concerts.

KOL fans meet KONGOS

KOL fans meet KONGOS

Kings Of Leon played hit after hit including Radio Active, Use Somebody and a great triple encore of Crawl, Black Thumbnail and Sex on Fire.  It was a good night for music on the Las Vegas Strip. It was a successful festival and I hope to be back next year to see what the MGM Resorts Village has to offer.

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For more information on the artists mentioned above, check out their websites:

www.kingsofleon.com

www.youngthegiant.com

www.kongos.com