Emerge has re-emerged. The “music and impact” festival, which debuted in Las Vegas last April, has announced its return to town: May 31 and June 1. And this year, the event will feature some significant changes, with an eye toward enlivening the experience for attendees.
First, after spreading its inaugural edition across several Strip properties—Brooklyn Bowl, the Flamingo, Harrah’s, the Linq Hotel—and even Downtown’s Bunkhouse Saloon, Emerge will spend its second go-round in one location: the Hard Rock Hotel, soon to be rebranded by new owner Virgin. “We choose the Hard Rock for a number of reasons,” Emerge founder Rehan Choudhry says. “It has the most historic live music legacy in the city. And what Virgin will apply to it is something we wanted to be a part of.”
Second, this time none of Emerge’s events will overlap, allowing passholders to catch as much programming as they’d like without having to decide between conflicting artists and speakers. “As I look at festivals around the country, more isn’t always better,” Choudhry says. “For a lot of these lineups, when you’re buying a festival ticket, you’re looking at 200 names, but you’re making your decision based on eight to 10 acts you’ll actually see. Last year I think we fell into the same trap, and I think we missed an opportunity to create the perfect program for a single attendee and scale it to the point where all attendees can experience everything without having to pick and choose. This way, the entire audience moves as a group.”
And third, though it will maintain its focus on rising talent, Emerge 2019 will also feature a significant number of well-known musical acts, Choudhry says, including Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, rapper Talib Kweli and indie folk singer-songwriter Andrew Bird. “We’re still celebrating emerging artists, but we’re also booking some bigger names,” Choudhry explains. “In order to make it exciting for attendees, we needed to give them more to wrap their heads around before they get there.”
As in 2018, Emerge’s schedule will feature a number of overarching themes emphasizing consciousness and social awareness, and each showcase will include both music and learning components. “We’re exciting to show people why there’s nothing else like this in the industry,” Choudhry says. “It’s a totally new concept.”
Along with Grace, Kweli and Bird, the initial 2019 lineup features comedian/illustrator Alec With Pen; rapper Ana Tijoux; folk singer Bedouine; bounce vocalist Big Freedia; electro-pop singer Bishop Briggs; indie rockers Cherry Glazerr; Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Patrisse Cullors; garage-punks Culture Abuse; rapper Dessa; R&B singer Doja Cat; rapper/poet Hobo Johnson and his backing band, The LoveMakers; Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist David Hogg; rapper J.I.D; rapper/actress Junglepussy; Ladies of LCD Soundsystem, aka DJs Gavin Rayna Russom and Nancy Whang; rapper Le1f; rapper Leikeli47; synth-pop duo Marian Hill; Nahko, leader of folk-rock act Nahko and Medicine for the People; ambient musician Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith; R&B singer Swsh; neo-soul outfit Tank and the Bangas; singer-songwriter Tasha; Evangelical pastor Jonathan Williams and his transgender mother, Paula; journalist and immigration rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas; and indie-pop act Yoke Lore. More names will be announced in the weeks to come.
Two-day Emerge passes cost $315 and go on sale Friday, March 1 at 9 a.m. at emergelv.com.