Though official reports put two-day attendance up slightly from last year (40,000 versus 37,000), it came nowhere close to matching the inaugural crowd of 70,000-plus from 2005, leaving us to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Vegoose. Our six cents on what could help save, not to mention rehabilitate, Las Vegas’ only major music festival.
More options. Yes, large-scale music is the primary objective, but the peripheral activities could use a little juicing up. Ditch the Sports Lounge and that oh-so-tired Impersonators Café (you’ve seen one Mr. T, you’ve seen ’em all); follow Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Bumbershoot’s respective leads and pitch us a comedy tent. Just to mix it up a little, take a page from the Warped Tour playbook and stick a locals or contest-winners stage up over by the porta-potties. Panels/workshops? Gaming stations? Slip ’n’ Slide slalom? Anything?
Better stage layout. The Double Down and Snake Eyes stages were way too close, causing distracting sound-bleed when both had performances going on. (Public Enemy and Cypress Hill’s simultaneous sets were especially harsh on the ears.) Why not put the main stage back inside Sam Boyd Stadium—as it was in Year 1—and keep the other two stages at the far ends of Star Nursery Field. Problem solved.
A man on the ground. Musically speaking, Las Vegas is a tough nut to crack, so planning a major festival here from offices in Knoxville and New Orleans can’t be easy. Any promoter in town will tell you, locals aren’t interested in the same things folks dig in LA, New York or even Phoenix, so why not contract a year-rounder to determine exactly what Las Vegans do want to see at Vegoose? Hint: Think Rage Against the Machine and Tool, not M.I.A. and UNKLE. Hipsters we are not. –Spencer Patterson
A landscaper. Our complaints begin where the grass ended, which was primarily in front of the Snake Eyes Stage. The smoke we expect, and it wasn’t helped by the California fires, but the churning dust was unacceptable. This can hardly be a news flash, but dancing/sitting on blankets/breathing is much less pleasant when it’s taking place on dry, powdery (albeit festively orange) dirt.
More thoughtful scheduling. There was a solid two-hour block on Saturday of nothing but hip-hop acts; the same one-genre logjam happened with Sunday’s jam-band glut. But at other times, fans had to choose between comparable acts with overlapping set times (i.e., QUOTSA or The Stooges?) Next year, don’t pit similar bands against each other, and aim for diversity at all times.
Radiohead. Okay, not just Radiohead (which hasn’t played Vegas since, oh, Pablo Honey), but them or someone like them. Rage and Daft Punk were fairly big spectacles, but Vegoose needs to figure out a way to go even bigger at the top of its bill if it wants to draw better. A Phish reunion would do that. So would Led Zeppelin. Or Pink Floyd. Something concert-goers literally can’t get anywhere else, or at least anywhere close by. Something that will sell out in minutes, not days. Something that could, despite the cost, single-handedly ensure Vegoose turns a profit. And returns to town.