[The Music Issue]

A big fat timeline of Vegas music festivals

Vegoose, how we miss you.
Photo: Aaron Thompson

Junefest (1993-2002; 2009-present) This daylong fest filled the soccer fields near Sam Boyd Stadium with classic-rock bands and fans during its first incarnation, then returned as a smaller, still retro-focused event after a lengthy hiatus.

Viva Las Vegas (1998-present) Billed as the largest rockabilly gathering in the world—boasting some 20,000 attendees a year—this springtime throwback now features six stages and 60-plus music acts, plus burlesque and a vintage car show.

Punk Rock Bowling (1999-present) What began as a punk-rock industry gathering centered on the lanes has become a full-fledged music fest in its own right, moving to its current home Downtown in 2011.

Area 51 Soundtest (2001-2004) Eclectic, improvisation-friendly acts like STS9, Tea Leaf Green, Dark Star Orchestra and Particle came together for this four-time Las Vegas Jam Band Society bash in the desert.

Rock in Rio

Rock in Rio

Extreme Thing (2001-2014) Punk and metal acts (and eventually dubstep DJs) provided the tunes for this springtime rager, complemented by BMX, skateboarding and wrestling demonstrations.

Vegoose (2005-2007) The Vegas fest by which all Vegas fests are judged, musically speaking, brought Tom Petty, Iggy & The Stooges, Arcade Fire, Trey Anastasio, M.I.A and lots more to Sam Boyd and its fields, before going out in a blaze of Daft Punk/Rage Against the Machine co-headlining glory.

Neon Reverb (2008-2013) The multi-night, multi-venue smorgasbord for locals, by locals, paired indie heavyweights like The Walkmen with Vegas favorites like A Crowd of Small Adventures. Neon Reverb’s 10 editions highlighted the Downtown renaissance before funding struggles brought it to a close.

Matador at 21 (2010) The Manhattan record label’s Vegas-on-a-lark anniversary bash delivered a ’90s indie-lover’s dream bill to the Palms, with Pavement, Guided By Voices, Belle & Sebastian and Superchunk among the many bands making rare Vegas appearances.

Electric Daisy Carnival

Electric Daisy Carnival

Electric Daisy Carnival (2011-present) Exiled from LA, Insomniac’s flagship event has grown to become the country’s most-attended music festival (400,000 bodies per weekend), thanks to an eagerly accommodating city, the enormity of the Speedway and the EDM boom.

iHeartRadio (2011-present) An assemblage of the biggest names in popular music—Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Swedish House Mafia, Kenny Chesney, Coldplay and many more—performing mini-sets, perhaps most famous for a 2012 Green Day meltdown during the band’s last Las Vegas performance.

Life Is Beautiful (2013-present) The Downtown street fest focuses on music—headliners have included Kanye West, The Killers, OutKast and Foo Fighters—but has also kept things interesting with a slate of food, art and speaker offerings.

Further Future (2015) The men behind a popular Burning Man mobile sound camp created a commercial, semi-exclusive alternative featuring a progressive speaker series, alternative health programming and a no-joke slate of experimental musicians and DJs.

Rock in Rio (2015) The internationally beloved festival made its Stateside debut last May with mainstream titans like Metallica, John Legend and Taylor Swift, all performing at MGM’s new, expansive Festival Grounds. Attendance was modest, but organizers remain bullish about a 2017 follow-up.

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