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Las Vegas’ 20 Greatest Music Rooms—Ever

Mar 22, 2023

Think about the best live shows you’ve seen. Picture the band; how it looked, how it sounded. Remember the songs and moments that stood out, and the energy and motion of the crowd around you. Then think about where you were standing or sitting in relation to the stage. If you’re anything like us, that will get you thinking about other artists you’ve seen in that room—and how the room, somehow, made the show better.

Other U.S. cities can argue they’ve been home to more individually iconic rooms—the Apollo and CBGB in New York, Fillmore West in San Francisco, the Whisky in LA and so forth. But for a city as young as Las Vegas, the number of significant music spaces here through the years has been somewhat astounding. And we can think of at least 20 that helped change the history of this place, in ways great or small. Places where, at the very least, we saw a live show that changed us.

Caveats: We excluded stadiums, arenas, outdoor spaces and convention halls. Even though some great shows took place at the Thomas & Mack, poolside at the Cosmo and inside the Convention Center (The Beatles, of course), we didn't include those spots, because they weren't built for music. Also, know that we took these rankings seriously—in some cases putting aside our personal affinities to consider a place's historical importance or its value to the community.

If you think another place should have made the list, or that the bottom 10 should be the top 10, that's fine. And if one of your favorite new venues isn't on this list, it probably has a ways to go before it becomes legendary, and we hope it gets there. Everybody experiences music differently, and that means we all experience music venues differently, too.

So here they are, the 20 greatest music rooms in Las Vegas history …

20 Duran Duran at Encore Theater

Beyoncé, Garth Brooks, Diana Ross, John Fogerty, Tony Bennett, Lionel Richie. Big names known for selling out big rooms, yet they’ve all played multi-night runs in this intimate 1,480-seat space during the past 15 years. Why? If you’ve been inside Encore Theater, you know.

It's comfortable and cozy, with primo sightlines and sound. And promoter AEG Presents has used it to establish a new form of Las Vegas residency—the small-space version—during its relatively short existence, not to mention stage gigs by acts as wide-ranging as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Smokey Robinson, Duran Duran, Dwight Yoakam, Sarah McLachlan, the Pixies, Maxwell, Pat Benatar, Robbie Williams and Chris Isaak, to name just a few.

The room routinely wins Billboard awards as one of the world's top-grossing small venues, and you won't find us arguing those results. –SP

19 The Railhead

In its early days, the Railhead made its name by presenting acts rarely seen on Strip stages. It booked bands featuring action stars (Keanu Reeves’ band Dogstar, May 1999) and basketball greats (jazz man Wayman Tisdale, January 2005). It hosted the beloved (and free!) Boulder Blues series weekly for years and years. It welcomed rock legend Brian Wilson in November 2004, performing the lost Beach Boys classic Smile in its entirety. Edgar Winter, Los Lobos and Sevendust have all played its stage.

But what truly sets the Railhead apart is its effortless bridging of the Vegas the world knows and the Vegas we live in. One night at the Railhead, while watching Branford Marsalis perform, we were struck by the almost imperceptible sound of the nearby casino's slot machines paying out (back when they still paid in live coins) whenever the saxophonist drew a breath. We heard it because we were surrounded by an enraptured, grateful local crowd, which was actually listening to the music it had paid to see. –GC

18 The Walkmen at Beauty Bar

Remember when we said we weren't considering outdoor stages for this list? Here's the exception. Because even though most of Beauty Bar's best shows took place on its back-alley stage—not inside the Fremont East bar that lasted from 2005 to 2019—that outside space truly felt like a room, wedged as it was between walls on all sides. And if the "roof" was actually the night sky, so much the better, since no other spot in Vegas before or since beckoned quite like a night out back at Beauty Bar.

The booking history reads like a who's who of indie music from the era: The Walkmen, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Hold Steady, Screaming Females, The War on Drugs, STRFKR, Xiu Xiu, Ty Segall and so many more. Bona fide legends dropped in, Grant Hart, Shellac, Peter Murphy, Jon Spencer, Stephen Malkmus and The Crystal Method among them. And above all, it paired with the Bunkhouse down the street to present wave upon wave of locals, opening for touring acts and headlining in their own right. It wasn't always beautiful back there, olfactorily speaking, but it was always a good time. –SP

17 Olivia Rodrigo at the Chelsea

When the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opened its doors in December 2010, the hip hotel was swimming in live music, quite literally. The Cosmo's Boulevard Pool provided the Strip with a welcome outdoor music stage, plus the resort brought a memorable array of bands to its (free) Book & Stage lounge and a makeshift ballroom venue known as the Chelsea. The tunes have long since gone silent at those original spots, but the spirit of the spaces lives on inside one of the Strip's best-designed rooms, the (permanent) Chelsea, which launched in December 2013.

Whether you’re standing on the (famously bouncy) floor or seated toward the back, there's no bad spot from which to catch a show in the 2,500-cap room, site of performances ranging from The Cure, Thom Yorke and Kraftwerk (in 3D!) to Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Jack White to Lizzo, Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd. –SP

16 The Grateful Dead played the Ice Palace with Santana in 1969.

Most of the venues on this list were specifically designed for music, a big reason they made our cut. This one … not so much. The Ice Palace, an honest-to-goodness ice rink off East Sahara Avenue that doubled as a performance space in the late ’60s and early ’70s, makes it on the strength of its legend—and its legendary headliners. We’re talking Led Zeppelin, The Doors, the Grateful Dead (with Santana opening) and Creedence Clearwater Revival, to name just a few.

In those days, Las Vegas didn't have a ton of permanent residents or many touring rock acts coming through, so props to the independent promoters who talked musicians into playing gigs for folks standing on plywood laid upon the ice. It couldn't have sounded pristine, but anyone who was there will proudly tell you how righteous it sounds in their memories, and honestly, we’re jealous just thinking about it. –SP

15 The Double Down

Vegas now has several venues and a museum that could lay claim to the title, but for years—decades—before those existed, the acknowledged heart of Vegas’ punk scene was the Double Down Saloon. Specifically, it's the tiny stage in the corner of this legendary dive bar, where countless bands—Adolescents, The Bomboras, Cheetah Chrome, Demolition Doll Rods, The Dickies, Evil Beaver, Guitar Wolf, Lords of Altamont, Man or Astroman?, The Supersuckers, T.S.O.L., U.S. Bombs and The Vibrators, among many others—have played blistering sets to enthusiastic locals and bewildered conventioneers. (The tourists are the ones drinking the house specialty, "Ass Juice." Locals know one time is plenty.)

Is the Double Down a great place to see a band? You might not think so; it's smoky, overloud and the bathrooms are (artfully!) disgusting. But it is, undeniably, a great place for a band to see you. The separation between stage and crowd is nonexistent; you’re both in the same tight, charged space, feeding off each other's mania. –GC

14 Blink-182 at the Joint

Talk about a tough act to follow. In 2009, iconic Vegas rock club the Joint shuttered as part of the Hard Rock Hotel's remodeling overhaul, then relaunched a couple months later in a different part of the property—with much different dimensions. The second version stretched farther back, reached higher up and doubled the capacity, from under 2,000 to around 4,000.

The "new Joint," as locals took to calling it—some even now, despite it having been rebranded the Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas by its new proprietors—traded the absurd intimacy of the original for augmented amenities, VIP seating options and, importantly, improved sound. And, starting with its opening weekend, when Paul McCartney and The Killers headlined, the space has carried on its predecessor's top-booking tradition. Among hundreds of acts to have played the room over the past 14 years: The Who, Stevie Nicks, Prince, Nine Inch Nails, Mary J. Blige, Foo Fighters, Lauryn Hill, Deftones, Soundgarden, Arcade Fire, Weezer, Imagine Dragons, Lorde, Widespread Panic and Slayer. The venue has also hosted multi-night residencies by the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Tiësto, Kenny Chesney and Santana, and served as home base for Psycho Las Vegas’ first three festival years here. –SP

13 Bernard Fowler at the Sand Dollar

Since 1976, whenever someone has piled into a Strip taxicab and drunkenly asked the driver to take him to a place with good live music, there's been an even-money chance of them winding up at the front door of the Sand Dollar Lounge. The same is likely true today, except the driver must take the extra step of asking, "The original on Spring Mountain or the new one at the Plaza?"

A venerable hospitality industry hangout now deep into its second life—it changed its name to Bar 702 following a 2009 Bar Rescue appearance, and was even briefly known as Bikini Bar before reclaiming its birthright in 2010—the Sand Dollar is famed as an after-gig stop for touring artists like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones and The Who. Sometimes they’ll just relax with their drinks, listening to local and regional acts jamming out, and sometimes their members will hop onstage and work off the energy they didn't spend at their main gig. –GC

12 The Skooners at the Bunkhouse

Joni Mitchell once sang, you don't know what you’ve got till it's gone, but Las Vegans who loved catching interesting live acts up close and personal knew exactly what they had in the Bunkhouse. From the moment the dilapidated Downtown bar on 11th just off Fremont began running gigs on its barely elevated "stage" in the mid-2000s, it occupied a critical place within the scene. Those early years saw memorable bands like Monotonix, A Place to Bury Strangers and Melt-Banana come through, some as part of the Neon Reverb festival, for which the Bunkhouse served as unofficial hub.

When Tony Hsieh's Downtown Project bought the building in 2013, hands were wrung over potential changes, but on the music front, it proved to be a mostly positive development. An entirely remade Bunkhouse opened in August 2014 with a state-of-the-art sound system, a sprawling outdoor area for between-set hangs and an eye-popping calendar that included the likes of Bob Mould, The Breeders and Blonde Redhead in the early months and continued with Deerhunter, Drab Majesty and Deafheaven—plus outdoor sets by Television and Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst's Better Oblivion Community Center—in the years to come.

Most importantly, the Bunkhouse was ground zero for the local indie scene, providing countless Vegas acts with a welcoming environment and reliable production. When doors shuttered on the beloved 250-capacity building near the start of the pandemic (for largely unrelated reasons), many feared it would never reopen, and to date, it hasn't, as Hsieh's heirs consider what to do with his former holdings. Fingers crossed they don't knock it down, pave over it and put up a parking lot. –SP

11 Billy Idol at the Pearl

"We wanted to create the most special place for music in the city," then-Palms owner George Maloof told the Weekly during a 2006 hard-hat tour of the Pearl site, and a solid case could be made that he did just that. Though considerably less flashy than some of its casino-venue peers, the Pearl has spent its existence—from March 2007 to the present, on and off—earning a reputation as the place many Las Vegans would pick to catch their favorite act, if given the choice. From sound to sightlines to access and egress, the Pearl was smartly designed, to provide the concertgoer with an enjoyable and easygoing experience.

During the room's first decade, the calendar placed arena-sized headliners (Jay-Z, Depeche Mode, Tool) into its 2,500-cap environs and brought acts to Vegas that likely would have skipped otherwise (Björk, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem and a horde of Matador Records acts for a three-day festival in 2010). And though the Pearl's latest phase has been somewhat quieter, this summer's schedule includes the likes of Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello, Melissa Etheridge and Lamb of God, a sign the Pearl's new owners, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, intend to further extend the room's well-deserved legacy. –SP

10 Elvis Presley tours the International Hotel's construction site on February 26, 1969.

Kirk Kerkorian thought big when he opened the International Hotel in the summer of 1969. The property covered some 41 acres. Its tower consisted of 1,500 rooms. Its showroom boasted a massive stage and 2,000 seats—the biggest theater in Vegas at that time. And to fill that showroom, the International—later the Las Vegas Hilton, and today the Westgate—relied on a series of performers playing extended engagements; in essence, our city's first proper residencies. Those headliners included Barbra Streisand, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, James Brown and (checks notes) Elvis Presley.

Perhaps no other performer in history is as strongly linked with a venue as Elvis is with the Showroom Internationale. Coming into the 1970s concerned about his legacy, Elvis poured everything he had into the International shows: His backing band boasted nearly 60 singers and players, and by the time of his death in 1977, he had performed on its stage more than 600 times. The show literally transformed Elvis’ enduring image—the famous jumpsuit was a practical choice he made early on, when he realized his exuberant karate kicks were ripping his pants—and it let the world know that not only was Las Vegas interested in rock ’n’ roll, but that we could present it a scale previously unimaginable.

The showroom continued to host giants post-Elvis: Tina Turner, Liberace and Barry Manilow, who began playing the showroom on-and-off in 1985 and is now deep into a historic residency of his own. But if Elvis hadn't warmed up that legendary stage, Manilow's residency would look very different—if it existed at all. –GC

9 Iggy Pop at Calamity Jayne's

The 1980s were not halcyon days for Las Vegans interested in cutting-edge live music. Local punks built a devoted scene with their bare hands, staging shows in converted warehouses and by dragging generators out to the desert, but mostly, the city's relatively small population—and its reputation as a place where aging headliners went to die—kept it off the tour routes of all but the best-known bands. Enter Calamity Jayne's.

From 1988 to 1992, the rock club on Fremont Street south of Charleston Boulevard—operated by its colorful, lounge-singing namesake—built perhaps the wildest concert calendar in Las Vegas history. Nirvana played its lone local show there, opening for Sonic Youth in 1990. Iggy Pop stood on that stage, as did Devo, Debbie Harry, Donovan, Nine Inch Nails, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Warren Zevon, and Primus. In a real sense, Calamity Jayne's took Las Vegas into the modern music era, paving the way for the Joint and the House of Blues in the decade that followed. And though its ultimate seizure amid a federal investigation into charges of drug smuggling, trafficking and money laundering continues to obscure its true significance, those who were there will tell you, unequivocally, how thankful they were for Calamity Jayne's Nashville Nevada. –SP

8 Chance the Rapper's crowd at Brooklyn Bowl

How quickly can a room become indispensable? In the case of Brooklyn Bowl's Las Vegas location, it happened almost instantly. Since launching in 2009, the 2,400-cap space near the east end of the Linq Promenade on the Strip has ingratiated itself with locals and visitors by bringing acts to town others here have largely ignored—and presenting them in a comfortable, dependable space.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist spinning the music of Afrika Bambaataa. Tame Impala back in 2014. The Roots teaming with Elvis Costello. Multi-night runs from Ween and The Disco Biscuits. Indie faves like Kurt Vile and The Mountain Goats, brunch sets for kids. And lengthy lists of metal, R&B, hip-hop, pop-punk and reggae faves, to name just a few genres Live Nation regularly mixes in at the Bowl.

As other alt-leaning rooms have vanished in recent years, Brooklyn Bowl's place in the Vegas music universe has become even more central, one of the only spots equally adroit at booking icons like Robert Plant as promoting a newcomer's first time in town. And the titular bowling? That's mostly a bonus experience, though we highly recommend spending at least one show with your pals on the lanes. There's nothing else in this town, or most others, quite like it. –SP

7 Fremont Street Reggae & Blues

In January 1993, Omaha, Nebraska, transplant Terry O’Halloran took over a vacant market space—located roughly where Neonopolis is now, on the northeast corner of Fremont and Fourth Streets—and split it down the middle, devoting one side of the house to live blues bands and the other to reggae artists.

Fremont Street Reggae & Blues was the first venue of its kind in the Fremont Street entertainment district, years before Beauty Bar, Celebrity and Backstage Bar & Billiards. (It preceded even Fremont East itself.) And if you were brave enough to venture Downtown, you could step into either of its great-sounding rooms and see the likes of Candye Kane, Koko Taylor, Charlie Musselwhite, Rod Piazza and Kenny Wayne Shepherd on the blues side, or Burning Spear, Dread Zeppelin, The Itals, Toots & The Maytals and Yellowman on the reggae side.

And it wasn't always about the genres on the marquee. Warren Zevon performed at FSR&B, as did Beat Farmers, Mick Fleetwood, Tripping Daisy, The Church, Dick Dale and even Gwar. It hosted the Crap-Out, a three-day mini-festival of surf, punk and garage bands, and Soundhouse, an experimental music showcase hosted by local artist Tony Bondi.

But the good times couldn't last. O’Halloran battled with the city pretty much from the beginning, and construction of the Fremont Street Experience parking structure reduced business to a trickle. In 1996, he gave up and returned to Omaha, but FSR&B's big noise reverberates Downtown even today. –GC

6 Sammy Davis Jr. at the Copa Room

The party was over long before most of us even got near it. The Copa Room, a cozy (capacity: 400) lounge opened by Jack Entratter in 1952, was destroyed in 1996 with the rest of the Sands Hotel; the Venetian now stands where it once did. And yet, the Copa is so embedded in Vegas lore that, like the Stardust's legendary sign and organized crime on the Strip, you’re likely to meet people who believe it still exists. The reason for this? Probably Ocean's Eleven.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., were Copa Room regulars for a time, performing there during the filming of the original Ocean's in 1960. (Their names can be seen on the Sands’ marquee at the end of the film). And while they’re the names most associated with the Copa—even recording live albums there, including 1966's Sinatra at the Sands and Davis Jr.'s 1967 That's All—they’re far from the only legends who performed there. You could walk in and see the likes of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Shirley Bassey, Tony Bennett, Cher, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee. Liza Minnelli, Edith Piaf, Louis Prima, Smokey Robinson, Linda Ronstadt, The Staples Singers, Sarah Vaughan, Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson and many other musicians, comics and assorted celebs.

Rooms like the Copa still exist in Las Vegas—some smaller, most bigger. They have a vibe, but it's nothing like you see in old photos of the Copa—couples dressed in suits and gowns, performers with heads tilted back belting long notes into an old-fashioned mic. The Copa Room was more than a place; it was a time, an aesthetic, a feel. The Copa, in its day, was peak, wild Vegas, captured alive between four walls. –GC

5 Bad Religion at the Huntridge

Some years back, the Huntridge Theater's commitment to live music crossed into the realm of the supernatural. There's no other explanation for why this historic movie house—opened in 1944 and converted to a concert venue in the early 1990s—continues to host live bands even after multiple catastrophes that should have ended it for good.

When the theater's roof collapsed in July 1995, the Circle Jerks relocated their set to the parking lot. When a re-roofed Huntridge succumbed to market pressures and closed in the mid-aughts, it went into a 20-year hibernation until J Dapper could buy it and bring a "we’re back" show to the theater's soon-to-be-renovated stage in April 2023. The Huntridge is a survivor, like Vegas itself.

Real history was made in that historic venue during its 1990s-2000s heyday. Smashing Pumpkins, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Fugazi, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Pavement, Kyuss, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Hole, No Doubt, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avenged Sevenfold, Interpol, the Beastie Boys … Literally hundreds of legendary performers took to the Huntridge's no-frills stage, often following local bands busy building up their own legend. (Yes, the Killers played the Huntridge several times during their rapid ascent.)

In fact, the Huntridge was so fiercely committed to live music that some of it spilled into surrounding buildings. The Sanctuary, a club venue at the southeast corner of the Huntridge property, booked some great shows during its relatively short existence, including Sunny Day Real Estate, Weezer, and Jello Biafra, plus a legendary October 2000 appearance by Elliott Smith.

So much energy was invested in the Huntridge over its 13-odd years that the building might not know how to be something other than what those incredible bands made of it. We’ll find out. The renovation of the property, which began earlier this year with the restoration of the Huntridge's neon sign, is intended to support multiple uses, from plays to concerts. It’ll likely fix all the problems the Huntridge had as a concert venue, including its sometimes-poor sound, undersized lobby and dinky bathrooms. But a place that once rocked so hard probably can't help but do it again. Those spirits are dug into the stage, the walls and the restored roof, forever. –GC

4 Ice Cube at House of Blues

When the House of Blues opened its doors in March 1999, some of us young and foolish scenesters harbored old and foolish doubts about its quality: "It's part of a chain," "it's half-restaurant," that sort of thing. And while all these things are demonstrably true, they miss the point of what makes Isaac Tigrett's multilevel, 1,800-capacity music hall a legendary hang. Even though it was built from the ground up with the rest of Mandalay Bay, the feel of the place is genuinely lived-in, and has been since day one. When you descend the staircase into the venue, you feel like you’re stepping into some authenticity.

It's not a perfect room—your view might be blocked by a giant beam if you arrive too late—but the room's quirks only serve to enhance its magic. They make it feel more organic, more real. And every artist who has taken its stage—a mind-blowing list that includes Hall-of-Famers (James Brown, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin), influential talents (OutKast, Lauryn Hill, Queens of the Stone Age), country giants (Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt), rappers (Eminem, Nas, Kanye West), ravers (Underworld, Orbital, The Crystal Method), metalheads (Motörhead, Slayer, Dio), punks (Rancid, The Damned, Bad Religion) the truly inexplicable (The Residents, Spinal Tap, Rammstein) and, of course, a good number of blues legends (B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray)— has felt the history baked into the room, and added to it.

These days, House of Blues is largely about Santana, rocking away at a residency that has continued for more than a decade. But the magic remains there; the history is still piling up. Last year, Orville Peck took to its stage and played a set that nearly burned the place down. But at the end, he left House of Blues standing, for the next legends to make their mark. –GC

3 The Colosseum

Solely based on its historical significance, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace would surely hold down a spot high on this list. Constructed on the site of the resort's venerable Circus Maximus Showroom to house Céline Dion's A New Day… residency, the majestic 4,100-seat theater opened on March 25, 2003 and immediately reset possibilities and expectations for the Las Vegas residency. Promoters and performers up and down the Strip began viewing Dion's Colosseum concerts as the benchmark, and today's modern multi-night-headliner landscape can be directly traced to that wildly successful combination.

But the Colosseum has far more going for it than history. The Roman-themed room continues to provide one of the absolute best showgoing experiences around, with pristine sound and views available from any of its three levels. During its 20-year run, the space has hosted residencies galore, by Elton John, Mariah Carey, Usher, Rod Stewart, Cher, Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn, Sting, Keith Urban, Morrissey, Journey, Van Morrison, Bette Midler and more. Its promoters, originally AEG Presents and then Live Nation, have brought many other key acts in for shorter runs and one-offs, including Madonna, Leonard Cohen, The Who, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, Guns N’ Roses, Christina Aguilera, Luis Miguel, Steely Dan, J. Cole and Enrique Iglesias.

No matter how many shiny new rooms have popped up since it opened, a night at the Colosseum remains a special Vegas experience, as much for the unique setting as for the artists themselves. –SP

2 Franz Ferdinand at the Joint

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened in 1995. Marketing-wise, it was aimed squarely at Generation X, just as that demographic hit an upswell in purchasing power. And coincidentally, the resort opened just after the cresting of a musical wave that produced trailblazing rockers like Radiohead, unconventional singer-songwriters like Fiona Apple and pop innovators like Seal—all of whom played the Joint, the Hard Rock's concert hall, within its first year of operation.

To be clear, this wasn't the Joint of today, at the Theater at Virgin. This 1.0 Joint was a wedge-shaped hall with several tiered viewing levels, a second-floor balcony and a bar against the back wall. It didn't always offer the best showgoing experience; management would pack the house to overflowing, and the noise from the bar could be shattering. But it was a gift, nonetheless. It drew in the bands that previously skipped Vegas on their national tours, and then some.

The number of superstar acts that squeezed into a 1,200-capacity venue boggles the mind. Red Hot Chili Peppers: New Year's Eve 2002. David Bowie: January/February 2004. The Rolling Stones: February 1998 and November 2002. Afghan Whigs, Tori Amos, Aphex Twin, Bauhaus, Big Audio Dynamite, Mary J. Blige, Blur, David Byrne, Chemical Brothers, The Cure, De La Soul, Depeche Mode, Destiny's Child, Bob Dylan, Franz Ferdinand, The Fugees, INXS, Interpol, King Crimson, Massive Attack, Metallica, Morrissey, Ozzy Osbourne, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Sigur Rós, Steely Dan, The Strokes, Joe Strummer, Donna Summer, The White Stripes, Neil Young—all of them performed at the Joint, a room with an attendance cap smaller than that of Brooklyn Bowl.

Oftentimes, the miracles that occurred weren't confined to the stage. At the height of its popularity, the Hard Rock was less a casino and more a neighborhood. It wasn't at all uncommon to encounter the band you’d paid to see relaxing poolside, playing blackjack or grabbing a post-show bite at Mr. Lucky's 24/7. Instruments played—or objects destroyed—by the stars of the hour could travel from the stage to a display case in the casino. You felt closer to the music here than you did most anywhere else—and, sometimes, the bands felt comfortable enough with you to plunk down next to you at the Sid Vicious slot machines.

The first Joint closed in February 2009. The new, larger Joint opened two months later, and the old Joint was demolished to expand the casino floor. It was, perhaps, inevitable; the original room was simply too small to compete in a market that now has a bunch of similarly sized concert venues, thanks to the OG Joint's outsize success. That's the thing about miracles—they’re dazzling, but they’re not permanent. –GC

1 The Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts

On April 27, 1998, the Aladdin crumbled to the ground, the latest in a series of scheduled, publicly viewed implosions that had also taken down the Dunes, Landmark, Sands and Hacienda. Except that this time, when the casino-resort disintegrated, a key piece stayed upright. The Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, which had stood since the mid-’70s, was spared the dynamite.

Revisiting its history to that point, it's understandable why. Launching with five Neil Diamond shows July 2-6, 1976, the room served as Las Vegas’ primary concert home, to both locals and tourists, for the next two decades. Even an abbreviated list of performers for that era is absurdly loaded: Ray Charles, ABBA, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Rush, Radiohead, the Bee Gees, Blondie, Pearl Jam, Black Sabbath, Depeche Mode, Phish, Thin Lizzy, Loretta Lynn, Iron Maiden, Eric Clapton, The Cars, Kiss, Van Halen, Parliament-Funkadelic, Heart, Electric Light Orchestra, Oingo Boingo, Alice Cooper, Stevie Nicks, Judas Priest, the Eagles, Stone Temple Pilots and on and on and on.

Notoriously, fans of the final act to play the Aladdin Theatre pre-implosion, Mötley Crüe, tried to take some of it with them, tearing apart seats and other elements before the end. And then the place went silent, until … a new Aladdin rose from the ashes in late 2000, and a remodeled Theatre for the Performing Arts began again, bringing Prince, Alicia Keys, Tom Petty, Mariah Carey, Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Dave Matthews and many more through in the years before new operator Planet Hollywood removed the Aladdin name in 2006.

As new venues of all sizes popped up on and off the Strip, the room's role became less central, but through each of its iterations—PH Live, the Axis, Zappos Theater and the current Bakkt Theater—it has retained its charm. These days, it exists as a sort of midway point between Vegas’ velvet-seat past and its LED-screen present, mostly hosting a parade of resident headliners—Britney Spears, J.Lo, Christina Aguilera, John Legend and Miranda Lambert among them. And every so often, as when Nine Inch Nails set up behind its spectacular curtain of lights in 2008 or when Peter Gabriel revisited So in 2012, the post-Aladdin version reminds us of the days when locals flocked to the room with regularity, and returned home with memories to last a lifetime. –SP

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