Reflecting on 20 amazing years of shows at Las Vegas’ House of Blues

House of Blues turns 20 on March 2.
Photo: Key Lime Photo / Courtesy

From the very beginning, it stood apart. When House of Blues Las Vegas opened with Mandalay Bay on March 2, 1999, it had the homey, weathered vibe of a century-old theater, its walls covered in outsider art. In an era when Vegas was striving for modernity, House of Blues presented itself as if it had always been there, and local audiences and national touring acts took to the place as if it had. Over the course of HOB’s opening week, everyone from Bob Dylan to Lauryn Hill performed on its stage; in the years that followed, it hosted B.B. King, Beach House, Dolly Parton, Nas, Queens of the Stone Age, Motörhead, the Beastie Boys, Prince and many more. And they’re not slowing down: Death Grips, Kurt Vile (see Page 37), Eric B. & Rakim and Jenny Lewis are among the acts coming soon. It’s been 20 solid years of gospel brunches, Foundation Room parties, Santana residency shows and unforgettable concerts, and the House of Blues is still going strong. Feels like it always has been. –GC

Underworld (April 30, 1999) The British progressive-trance group broke in the still-new stage with booming versions of “Born Slippy .NUXX” and “Rez/Cowgirl,” carried aloft by Karl Hyde’s breathless, stream-of-consciousness wordplay. –GC

Rammstein (June 21, 1999) The German goth-metal band squeezed its entire massive, effects-laden stage set into HOB—the exploding amps, water-spraying phallus and all. –GC

Orbital & The Crystal Method (July 22, 1999) Two giant groups of the electronica boom—one a pioneering British English duo, the other two guys who’d met at UNLV—delivered a dance party for the ages. –GC

Chris Cornell (March 7, 2000) The Soundgarden frontman paid two visits to HOB, but his first was the more earnest—an attempt to present himself as a solo artist, with scant few Soundgarden songs in the set (among them “Boot Camp” and “Fell on Black Days”). –GC

OutKast (March 28, 2001) “This is hip-hop on crack!” André 3000 said just before he and Big Boi took their already exhilarating performance—in support of breakthrough album Stankonia—to greater heights with a show-climaxing “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad).” –MP

The Strokes (January 30, 2002) Singer Julian Casablancas’ unfortunate homophobic slur aside, the NYC rock act delighted its fire code-breaking audience with a tight performance featuring all of hit debut album Is This It and two song previews of its forthcoming effort, Room on Fire. –MP

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (October 4, 2002) Memorable not as much for the solid headlining set as for the local introduction of indie newcomers Liars and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, two of countless quality opening acts to pass through HOB’s doors through the years. –SP

Erykah Badu (February 14, 2004) Among the neo-soul singer’s many appearances at the venue, this Valentine’s stopover stands out for its duration, setlist and dynamic performance. –SP

Sonic Youth (July 23, 2004) The noise-rock veterans capped off a night of ear-crushing sound that began with indelibly weird sets from experimentalists XBXRX and Wolf Eyes, the sort of acts Las Vegas rarely gets to experience. –SP

Los Lobos (December 30, 2005) Full-album presentations can often feel restrictive; not so for this rendering of classic record Kiko, which found the East LA veterans soaring through cuts they hadn’t played in years. –SP

James Brown (September 1, 2006) At his last Vegas performance before dying nearly four months later, the 73-year-old Godfather of Soul and his band gave their all during an old-school revue of funk and R&B chestnuts. –MP

Animal Collective (May 30, 2009) Would locals turn out for the hip, left-of-center sonic adventurers? Indeed, to the tune of 1,550 attendees, on a night when it felt like Las Vegas finally got it. –SP

Metric (October 6, 2012) The band’s first Vegas appearance was a joyous, high-energy marvel powered by hits (“Help I’m Alive,” “Gold Guns Girls”) and an ingenious stage set that actually counted down the seconds to the encore. –GC

Spiritualized (April 12, 2013) The soaring Vegas debut of Jason Pierce’s gospel-tinged space-rock outfit started an extraordinary, four-day Coachella-overlap run at the venue rounded out by Foals, Cafe Tacvba and Beach House. –MP

Jason Isbell (March 16, 2017) While most Americana acts visiting Las Vegas get small, distracted crowds, Isbell and his 400 Unit band were welcomed with a large and attentive throng—which in turn received a hearty showing of superbly crafted roots rock. –MP

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