Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my first concert at The Theater at Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas. This was my first time visiting the Virgin Hotel, but I remember the location fondly from when it used to be the Hard Rock Hotel. Overall, I was impressed with Virgin; it had a modern and contemporary feel, there were several nice-looking restaurants, multiple live music venues, and parking was free.
The Theater was a very nice concert venue, but it didn’t remind me of The Joint because my only memory of The Joint was of the original one, which was the smaller one that only held about 2,000 people. I specifically remember seeing Velvet Revolver there on Superbowl Sunday 2008. My friends and I watched the Giants beat the Patriots in Superbowl XLII, and then we went to the concert that evening. It was my first time seeing Slash perform live and my only time seeing Scott Weiland perform.
It was a great show, but my main memory of it was just how loud it was. Slash’s blistering pentatonic solos were splitting right through my eardrums, and my ears didn’t stop ringing for a week. I remember seeing Bootsy Collins on the way out of the show, completely dressed up as if he was about to perform.
The Hard Rock closed that version of The Joint in February 2009, then a few months later, they opened a renovated version of The Joint, which now had an upper level and held 4,000 people. The space lives on today as The Theater, and it’s a great place to see a concert in Las Vegas.
One thing I really like about The Theater is that it has something for everyone. Do you prefer to sit for some (or all) of the show? No problem; they have assigned seating on the first and second floors. Are you more of a general admission person? Still, no problem, as they have a GA section directly in front of the stage.
For this particular show, my wife and I were able to easily get right up to the front and watch the show from within a few feet of the barrier. When you’re this close, it doesn’t matter how large the venue is because you’re getting a premium view the whole time, but The Theater still had the feeling of no bad seats in the house. The acoustics and sound quality were great, plus it’s a nice large stage.
Cory Wong Live in Las Vegas
The show started off with an opening performance by Cory Wong. As a guitar geek, I was familiar with Cory Wong based on his signature model Fender Stratocaster and his Neural DSP Archetype: Cory Wong amp plugin. That said, I wasn’t familiar with his music at all. I knew he was a funk guitar player, but that was about it.
I was pleasantly surprised by Cory Wong’s performance, and I specifically want to give a shout-out to his band. The rhythm section was great, and the piano player was nice, but the live 5-piece horn section really brought it home for me. It’s rare that you get to watch a horn section performing so close to you, and even though there were no vocals in any of the songs, the whole crowd never really stopped grooving during their set.
Cory’s funky guitar grooves were infectious, and he danced around the whole time while playing. As you would expect from any proper funk guitar player, Cory made ample use of a wah-wah pedal. I couldn’t tell what kind of wah it was or what other pedals he was using (other than the occasional overdrive), but it all sounded great. A pair of Fender Twin amplifiers served as the perfect (and very loud) pedal platform.
Cory’s group played for at least 45 minutes, and even though no one appeared to know any of their songs, it was still a really enjoyable set. It’s hard not to be in a good mood with so much amazing funk music being performed right in front of you. I didn’t end up getting any of his merch, but I would gladly go see Cory Wong again in the future and encourage you to do the same. Feel-good funk music combined with some slick guitar and live horns equals a recipe for success in my book!
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Live in Las Vegas
This was our second time seeing Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats in concert. Our first concert experience with them came back in August of 2017 when they were opening for Kings of Leon, who were at that time touring for their latest album, “Walls.” Rateliff already had a hit song at that time with “S.O.B.,” but that was pretty much the only song I recognized by him during the set. It was still a great performance, though, and I remember him talking about what a wild ride the previous 3 years had been as he basically ascended to stardom.
Now here we are 5 years later, and this time Rateliff is the headliner. I don’t know what kind of personnel changes there has been with the Night Sweats over the years, but my main impression of them as a band is that they really seem to enjoy what they play. They’re all really into it when they perform, which becomes infectious for the crowd. The bass player, in particular, was really moving all over the place, dancing to the music as he played while never missing a beat. The piano player, Mark Shusterman, also showed a ton of energy throughout the show.
Luke Mossman, the guitar player for the Night Sweats, was also really fun to watch. I enjoyed watching him switch between a gold top Gibson Les Paul with P-90 pickups, to a Fender Jazzmaster (also with P-90’s), to a blue Gibson SG, and more! Luke’s tone was great, and he was clearly a very capable player. I wasn’t familiar with him before this show but would consider myself a fan at this point.
I think most people would think of Nathaniel Rateliff as a singer first and foremost, and rightfully so, but he’s also a pretty good guitar player. He rocked a couple of different guitars during the show, but it was a single-pickup Telecaster that seemed to be his favorite. He’s not what you would call a technical guitar player, but he could hold it down while singing, which is very difficult to do.
His voice has a lot of power, and it was cool being so close to him as he belted it out. At one point during “S.O.B.” (you can find it in the video above), he got the crowd to continue a chant as he yelled over the top. I felt like I was looking directly up at him during this sequence, and it was absolutely epic!
While plenty of the set was filled with energy (shout out to the Night Sweats horn section as well), they were equally capable of switching gears and killing it on the mellow stuff. “Face Down in the Moment” is my favorite song of theirs, and I felt like it was one of the night’s best songs.
They played for about 90 minutes, which included an encore consisting of “S.O.B.” and “Love Don’t.” The crowd seemed really pleased with the setlist. Fan favorites such as “You Worry Me,” “Survivor,” “A Little Honey,” “Out On The Weekend,” “I Need Never Get Old,” and several others were all performed. Clips from each of those songs listed can be seen in our mashup video above.
Overall, it was a really fun show. Both bands were great, and I was very happy with the venue. I would gladly see either band perform again, and I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re returning to see another show at Virgin. Their Event Lawn looks like a nice place to catch an outdoor show, and 24 Oxford looks like a really fun small venue.
I hope you enjoyed my review of the show. Feel free to leave comments, and please subscribe to the Vegas Showbiz YouTube channel!