Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Rat Pack is Back

I’ve said this before: if I had a time machine, I know exactly what I’d do with it.  No, I wouldn’t steal a sports almanac or try to get my parents to kiss at the big dance. I’ve already graduated high school, so I wouldn’t use it to pass my history final, either. No, I would head back in time at 88.8 miles per hour to the Copa Room at the Sands in 1960, to see the greatest show one could see for $5.95. Dinner included.

Like many of you, I have a decidedly romantic view of “old Vegas.” A time where women were ladies and comps were truly comps. When men wore hats (thanks for nothing, JFK).  And when you could see a legend performing in the lounge. Often for free.

I also have a decidedly romantic view of the mid-century crooners. Dean Martin, with a voice dark and syrupy like bourbon, and a total cheeseball when live on stage. Sammy Davis Jr., the most talented of them all, who could sing, dance, and act all his contemporaries under the table. And of course, the man himself: the Chairman of the Board, the one who made loneliness seem cool: Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra. When I want to relax for the evening, it’s an old fashioned in my glass and the Rat Pack on my stereo.

Despite peaking in Las Vegas 60 years prior, the Rat Pack is also inextricably intertwined with our Vegas trips today.  The men of The Summit provide the soundtrack to our early evenings. While we shower and dress for an evening on the town, pre-dinner cocktails in our hotel room glasses, Sammy, Frank, and Dino provide the soundtrack. No two days in Vegas are the same; but the Rat Pack is part of the ritual that binds them together for my wife and I. Indeed, the bellman has no sooner closed the door and my wife is asking me to turn on the Bluetooth speaker and put on music. Not just any music; our Vegas music.  The only music that will do.

When planning a recent trip, I mentioned to my wife that there was a Rat Pack impressionist show a little off strip. “And why haven’t we seen it yet?” Was her response.  

“The Rat Pack is Back” is not a new show to Vegas.   With a history of more than 20 years, the show was previously at several venues in Vegas, including the Rio and the Plaza before finding its current home at the Tuscany, just east of the Strip on Flamingo in 2015.  In fact, if you’ve seen the movie Get Him to the Greek, you’ve seen a little of the Rat Pack is Back show at the Plaza.  Russell Brand’s character musician stops by to see his dad, who is a drummer in the show.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I purchased our tickets to The Rat Pack is Back… Maybe 80 minutes or so of mediocre, karaoke-style covers of my favorite songs? What we experienced ended up being so much more, and it’s a show that we will definitely be returning to see again.

The Rat Pack is Back is performed in a small theater at the Tuscany in Las Vegas, in an intimate venue appropriately named “The Copa Room.” It features 3 impressionist performers, of which 2 are great and 1 is just okay.  (Our Dean Martin didn’t really look or sound like Dean Martin. I’m looking into whether he was out for the night, or just plain out.)

An especially enjoyable aspect of the show was the live, seven-piece band backing the trio.  I often caught myself watching the piano playing conductor as she guided the band through their various cues. True to their subjects, the band and impersonators often had moments of playful banter between them.

The Copa Room at the Tuscany is unfortunately a shadow of its namesake at the Sands, but this didn’t take away from our experience.  A relatively small-for-Vegas room, seating consists of movable “wedding venue” seats, with small cocktail tables between the front VIP tables. Lucky for us, the small size of the room contributes to a more intimate setting.  Seating is assigned by “area” and is first come, first serve. I paid for VIP seating, and we arrived early enough to be granted front row seats on stage right.  One gets the feeling you could slip the host a twenty for an upgrade, if you want to capture more of that old-school feeling. True to old Vegas form, there’s a bar in the theater and drink service during the show.  I was a little disappointed that there is not dinner served during the show, like the Sands shows of old.  The Tuscany offers an optional dinner package with The Rat Pack is Back tickets, but the meal is served in another location on the property, not in the Copa Room itself.  We opted for Bugsy and Meyers down the street at the Flamingo instead.

As I mentioned before, the quality of the impersonators was excellent. While Kyle Diamond doesn’t quite have Sammy Davis Jr’s squint, and Chris Jason is a little too much of an Italian goombah to be a dead ringer for Sinatra, the experience is close enough for me. The performers each have their own moments to shine, both solo and together on stage.  Songs are rarely performed all the way through, which serves to keep the show from stalling out. There’s canned banter amongst the performers, and if you’ve ever heard recordings of the Rat Pack, most of their dialogue is accurate. This leads to an early and probably necessary disclosure that this is a show that takes place in the middle of the previous century, and therefore has the humor to match. The jokes aren’t what I would call crude, but they certainly aren’t politically correct.  Some may consider this a criticism, others a feature.

Purists will note that not all of the song choices are accurate. Sammy Davis Jr. sings Mr. Bojangles, a song that wasn’t written until 1965, and he didn’t sing until 1972, and Sinatra sings the Theme from New York, New York, a song that was written in 1977 and recorded by Sinatra in ‘79.

There’s also a bit of early ‘60s eye candy, with a leotarded playboy bunny brought on stage to flirt and verbally parry with the men. I’ve been clear in other reviews that I appreciate the female form - especially in my Vegas shows - but her inclusion here felt almost gratuitous, as though the show’s creators felt that the Rat Pack is Back couldn’t stand on its own without some T and A.  I don’t think the bunny took away from the show, but I also don’t think she really added much to it either.

As always, we make it a point to cover the Audience Fuckery Factor in these reviews for the sake of our listeners who want to see shows, but don’t want to be the center of attention.  While we enjoyed our front seats, “Frank Sinatra” made a joke that I was banging on his door for 45 minutes the night before, until he finally let my wife out. We laughed, but you may not like light-hearted sexual assault jokes made about your spouse. There was another woman,  “Delores,” who was in the front, closer to center, and the performers made several jokes about her throughout the show. None were mean-spirited, and she seemed to enjoy the attention.  If you don’t, I would recommend requesting a seat three or more rows back.  This reminds me of another aspect of the show I really enjoyed: all three impersonators made it a point to head into the audience at the end to take pictures with the crowd, including Delores.  These days, it seems like every Vegas performer wants you to pay for a special VIP package to take photos or speak with you, but the fact that these guys came out to take some photos and chat with us without hesitation was a fun bonus.

All in all, I would definitely recommend the Rat Pack is Back, especially if you have a hunger for the Vegas of Old. I know that we will certainly make an effort to see it again. Showtimes are nightly at 7:30pm, but dark on Sundays. Tickets start at $90, but I recommend spending another $10 per person for the VIP seating, or you will be sitting along the perimeter of the room.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024



    We recently released the 360 Vegas show review for X-Country, and Mrs Jaydubs complained that we spent half the review talking about Fantasy.  I can’t help it, though. Fantasy is the litmus test by which all other Vegas topless revues will be judged for a long time. Note: I have in the past referred to Fantasy as the Gold Standard of Vegas topless revues, and thought I was very clever for coming up with that. Then I saw the same words on a Fantasy poster on the way into Luxor and realized I was just subconsciously plagiarizing something I’ve seen before.  To quote my father, “When someone steals your idea, it’s plagiarism. When you steal someone else’s idea, it’s inspiration.”  I’ll run with that.

    If you aren’t aware, Fantasy is a nightly topless revue show at the Luxor.  The production dates back to 1999, and is the oldest running topless show in Vegas.  It was originally titled “Midnight Fantasy,” and it had a 12 am showtime to match.  In 2001, Luxor dropped the midnight showtime in exchange for an earlier time slot, but didn’t drop the “Midnight” from the title until 2006.  Over its nearly 25 year history, Fantasy has gone through several revisions. I myself have seen it 3 or 4 times, and it is always a solid choice.

    The structure is simple: beautiful women take off their clothes for the audience.  There are a variety of acts, and the show switched them out regularly. The content of the show can vary by season  - or even nightly - due to the various performers taking time off.  Your favorite dancer isn’t going to perform in the show 7 days a week, she needs a break! There are numbers that feature single performers, as well as duo and ensemble pieces.  To mix things up, the show also features a couple of acrobatic numbers with an aerialist on the silk web.  Driving the show forward is a female MC who sings a few songs while performers dance. 

    The performers themselves are absolutely lovely, and I would describe them as lean and athletic.  I should say that Fantasy has a specific aesthetic for its performers, which some may not appreciate.  Probably the best way to describe this would be the classic Playboy look, the cast favors lean blondes, and even the darker-skinned girls are light-skinned, if that makes sense. None of the performers are conventionally unattractive, but if you prefer your eye-candy thick and curvy, you won’t find it here. I had no complaints.

    An important note: every topless show I’ve seen in Vegas makes an effort to be welcoming of the ladies and the women in the audience, but probably none do it better than Fantasy.  Any women reluctant to attend with their SO or girlfriends should put that fear aside. You will not be the only woman there and no one will make you feel strange for being there. This is probably one of Fantasy’s biggest selling points for Mrs. Jaydubs and myself.

    Fantasy runs nightly at the Atrium theater at the Luxor.  The show shares the venue with Carrot Top, and I can’t help but think that this must lead to some fascinating backstage moments.  The venue is a traditional theater with a very sloped house. What this means is there are no bad seats, and you have a bigger risk of accidentally kicking the person in front of you in the head than not being able to see around them.  The seats themselves are very comfortable, and the theater can accommodate about 350 people.

    In terms of the Audience Fuckery Factor, you should avoid the first 5 rows if you don’t want to be singled out for questions or attention, and the first 2 rows if you don’t want to be called on stage.

    Fantasy runs every night at 10:30 pm. There is also sometimes an early show at 8:00 pm. Tickets start at $52 on

Wednesday, December 13, 2023


 On our first Vegas trip as a couple, I swung for the fences.

Determined to have a great time and convince her that her previous terrible Vegas experience decades prior was not the only way to do Vegas, I made sure to fill our days with fun and our nights with great entertainment.  On that trip, we saw Brilliant at the Neon Museum, Fantasy, the Beatles Love, and finished off our final evening at Absinthe.  It was wildly successful. The problem is, where do you go there?

You can have the top half.
Out of all our Vegas show experiences, we loved Absinthe the most. It was - and remains - a perfect Vegas mix of sequins and trash, of sexy and vulgar, of talent and spectacle.  So when I booked our second trip for early 2019, we opted to check out Spiegelworld's newest show, Opium. At that time, I can honestly say that I didn’t love it. Opium paled in comparison to its big sister Absinthe.  Later that same year, I saw Atomic Saloon shortly after it opened. I felt that Atomic Saloon was a strong, close 2nd to Absinthe, while Opium was a distant third.  We recently all went to see Opium together, and I was curious to see how the show evolved in the 4 ½ years since.

First, a history lesson: OPM (the show was retitled in 2021, probably to get around advertising restrictions) is the second “permanent” show created by Spiegelworld for Las Vegas after the wildly successful Absinthe. It opened in March, 2018 at the Cosmopolitan where it has remained until its closure at the end of this year.

Flingin' rings.

OPM follows the variety show format that Spiegelworld developed with Absinthe.  The various acts you see don’t necessarily have a common thread, they are just loosely linked together, sometimes simply by a few words for a host or emcee. This is less-so in Atomic Saloon, which does make an effort to tie the various acts into the story; but as with all Spiegelworld productions those who attend looking for a compelling narrative will be disappointed. Spiegelworld’s strength is curation: the assembly of the fantastic, the weird, and the incredibly talented into a show that will simultaneously amaze, arouse, and confuse you.  The way Spiegelworld designs their shows, they are also nearly impervious to personnel issues. Performers can take a night off, get sick, or simply move on to another gig, and the show won’t suffer because some other great act can simply be plugged into the show and no one will ever know the difference. What this also means is that the show we saw is not necessarily the show you will see.  I’ve seen Absinthe twice and OPM twice, and all four experiences were different.  Whether you catch OPM before it closes or one of the other fantastic Spiegelworld shows, I’m pretty sure that you will still have a great time regardless.

Andromeda is your hostess

Before I dive too much into OPM, I’ll say this: over the last several years, the show has improved. The quality of the various acts has stepped up a notch, and the too-absurd-to-care-about story-line has been abandoned.

Ever see a Cirque show or a magic show?  If you’re like me, sometimes when you’re watching the show your mind is reeling from all the amazing things you’re seeing, but after a while it becomes noise. Spiegelworld shows work well with my short attention span by continually switching up what I’m seeing, so mentally the entertainment never ends. In OPM, we saw a girl climb into a giant latex balloon, and two men turn giant throwing rings into spectacle. There was a pair of tumblers who terrified us as they launched each other towards the relatively low ceiling. Not everything works, though.   A girl in a straitjacket lip syncs psychotically to “No One” by Alicia Keys while writhing in an audience member’s lap, but the bit never seems to have a payoff.  A highlight for me was the “bubble-blowing guy,” who had the audience in the palm of his hands while making intricate creations with bubbles. It seems like a parlor trick, but I suggest finding YouTube videos of this act if you never catch OPM live.  All of this cements OPM as the most eclectic collection of talent in the Spiegelworld catalog.

Bubbles is back in town and he wants your number

OPM’s absence is Vegas’s loss, but fortunately you can catch the show before the end of the year. The show is dark on Mondays and Tuesdays, but is available twice a night at 7pm and 9pm every other night.  Tickets currently start at $72.  If you don’t get a chance to see OPM, rest easy knowing that the Spiegelworld magic is still available in other places on the strip in the form of Absinthe and the Atomic Saloon Show.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The Sphere

People will try to describe the experience you have at the Sphere but let’s start with saying it unlike anything you've experienced before.  It doesn’t matter if you see the film or a live act, this will be different. Which is exactly what Madison Square Garden Company was going for with the Sphere.  You’ll find a lot of comparisons to IMAX, Disney’s Soaring Attraction, 360 theaters but that’s only because how else do you describe something never done before.  The Sphere is one of those rare attractions that lives up to the hype, not only breaking the technological ceiling set before it but creating a new form of entertainment.  Let’s discuss some of the ways its unlike anything you’ve seen before.
First, the Sphere is located behind the Venetian convention center.  It’s the largest spherical building ever constructed at 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide.  The exterior also features 580,000 square feet of LED displays, making it the largest LED display in history.  It cost approx. $2.3 billion to build and took 4 years to bring to life.  Construction started in 2018 with a planned opening in 2021 but had to put the project on hold in 2020 due to supply complications brought on by the COVID pandemic.  When progress resumed, materials and technology costs had increased causing the originally projected $1.2 billion dollar price tag to almost double by the time it was completed.
The Sphere is the most expensive music and entertainment venue in history.  It seats 18,600 and with standing room accommodations that can handle up to 20,000.  10,000 of those seats have haptic technology incorporated into the seats.  They work in conjunction with 4d features like scent and wind.  At 160,000 square feet, the 16k resolution wraparound LED screen is the largest and highest-resolution LED screen in the world.  The sound system comprises of 1,600 speakers installed behind the LED panels.
The experience starts the moment you enter the venue.  The atrium is large enough to fit the statue of liberty or the Saturn V rocket.  Inside, you’ll find five humanoid robots throughout the venue introducing you to the Sphere as well as interacting with patrons.  While the technology is impressive, personally, I would best describe them as borderline creepy.  That said, they are powered by AI and have the ability to react to those that interact with them.
The Sphere isn’t designed to host things like professional sporting events typically presented in the round.  However, it would fit well with events like boxing, MMA, WWE, esports or even award ceremonies in addition to concerts and films. Today, we are going to discuss both the film and the concert experience.
The Film
Darren Aronofsky, probably best known for the films like Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan and The Whale, is the director of the first film ever captured in 18k.  It’s called “Postcards from earth” and tells the story of a dystopian earth that humans have had to evacuate due to all the damage done to it. It follows 2 humans waking up from cryo-sleep after their journey to another planet that can sustain life. Darren uses this narrative to showcase what sort of film experience only the Sphere can offer. It can probably be best described as a love letter to the planet featuring some of the most breathtaking scenes ever captured on film. The film is 50 minutes long and ticket prices start at $89, increasing based on the better the seat location.
The Show
So a few of things to get out of the way:
First, I know this is a divisive band. People seem to love them or hate them. I happen to be in the “love them” camp, and I don’t really care if you’re in the “hate them” camp.  Music opinions are entirely subjective and no one is going to change anyone’s mind.  With that in mind, I’d like to ask those that aren’t interested to simply move on instead of voicing your distaste. It’s not that you can’t have an opinion, it’s just that I don't like K-pop, but I don’t mention that I don’t like K-pop every time the subject comes up. What I’m saying is don’t yuck someone else’s yum, okay?  Also, if you think U2 is the worst ever for putting a free album on your iPhone several years ago, but you continue to buy all things Apple, your opinion has no weight here.
Second, I recognize that this isn’t 360 Vegas Album reviews, and I’ll try to keep that in mind as I discuss this show, but the Achtung Baby album is the center of this show, and it’s the genesis of my love for this band, so forgive me if I spend too much time discussing the virtues and nuance of the album.
And finally, I’m not going to have too much to say about the experience at the venue.  Our seats were general admission, so we were standing room on the floor. They brought us in a separate entrance from everyone else who had seats, and we never saw the lobby or any of the concession areas.  I wish I could comment more on the rest of the facility, but my experience doesn’t allow that.
All right, so back to point 1.  “Achtung Baby” made me a U2 fan.  I came out at a time when I was looking for my own music and not just listening to the music my parents listened to.  I always thought it was a brave album: U2 had won two Grammys for The Joshua Tree and came back four years later with Achtung Baby as if to say, “Glad you liked that, now here’s something completely different.” It’s an album about conflict and resolution; a result of recording in Berlin after the reunification, and during the time guitarist The Edge was going through a rocky divorce. I also think it’s a very “Vegas” album.  It’s dark, it’s sexy, and it’s full of temptation references. There’s an arc through the album, and you can argue that it tells the story of a night out that goes a little too far, and the reconciliation that comes with the sunrise.
So all of that is to say that when I found out my favorite band would be performing my favorite album in my favorite city, I packed up my favorite person and made for the promised land.
Again, our tickets were General Admission, which is standing room only on the venue floor.  We’ve done this once before; more than ten years ago. I waited in line all day to get us “close” to the stage, and always felt as though it was a one-time thing.  When we bought General Admission tickets for this event, I made it clear to my wife that I was not going to spend a day in Vegas waiting in line. Thankfully, the event attempts to address this, somewhat successfully. If you have General Admission tickets, you can arrive at the Sphere between 8 am and 1 pm the day of the event to get a numbered wristband. Then you return to the venue around 5 pm, and they let you in based on the number on your wristband.  It’s not a perfect system, though. We drove to the Sphere to pick up our wristbands, and they didn’t allow parking on the property for wristband pickup. So we had to park on a crowded side street and walk around a bunch of F1 fencing and bleachers to get to the part of the venue that was distributing wristbands. I understand charging for parking when there’s an event, but not even letting someone park to run in and get a wristband for 2 minutes is bonkers.
We stayed at the Wynn the night of the show, so we walked to the event in the evening. Getting there is easy, and there are signs through the Venetian directing you there. I thought we were going to end up taking the new pedestrian bridge that crosses over Koval from Venetian to the Sphere, but here again, they directed GA ticket holders out of the Venetian convention center building along Sands Avenue, where we had to cross Koval via the crosswalk. Then we had to walk along the north side of the building and enter via the “East VIP entrance.”
Here is another complaint about the venue. They have got to streamline their entrance procedures. I think about a venue like T-Mobile Arena, which has similar capacity to the Sphere. It takes less than 5 minutes to scan your ticket, pass through security, and be inside that place. Sphere needs more doors, and more Security people at the door to make that process a little smoother.
Once inside, we were directed down very dark, moody hallways toward the GA area. We stopped to use the restroom along the way, and I found the restrooms to be suitably massive. Excellent capacity for restrooms only intended for the GA crowd.  There was also a bar/lounge, but we didn’t really check it out.
Upon entering the GA floor, we ran into a wall of people.  I had seen in videos from previous shows that it seemed as though the stage left side had fewer people than stage right, and they literally dumped us out on the stage right side. We pushed our way over to the stage left side, and so despite getting there long after we should have with our wristbands we ended up about 10 people back from the stage. Not bad.
We sat on the floor because it was still about an hour and a half before the band was to take the stage.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a whole herd of cocktail waitresses walking the GA floor and taking drink orders. I have never seen that on a General Admission floor before.
Around 7:30 or so, a DJ started playing. He was DJing from this modified car that slowly moved around the GA floor. When I heard the band chose a DJ for the opening act, I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be “oonce-oonce club music,” and it turns out that I had nothing to worry about.  This guy knew his audience, and was playing rock and pop hits from the 80’s and 90’s.  The crowd was really getting into it and singing along with songs like “Livin on a Prayer.” It was a great fit.
At about 8:40, the lights went down and the crowd got loud.  Slowly, the band took the stage. Bono started singing a sort of short acapella song that I have not heard before, then the drums kicked in and the band launched into Zoo Station, the opening track of Achtung Baby. I don’t want to spoil what happens, but I’ll say that the way the band uses the screen here to kick off the show is really cool. If you think you might want to see the show, I’d recommend staying spoiler-free about the intro. It’s really fun.
The band played 7-8 tracks from Achtung Baby. They did not play them in exact album order, but in this first section, they played songs from the first 2/3rds of the album. Then they shifted gears a little and played a few other songs, mostly acoustic. This was the day after the Hamas attack on Israel, so this was mentioned, followed by I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Pride (In the Name of Love), and MLK.
Then Bono announced it was “time to wake the Baby up,” and the band went on to finish Achtung Baby.  This was probably my favorite part of the show for a couple reasons: 1) It’s later in the show, so fewer people had posted photos and videos of this portion, so there were more surprises and 2) it’s really the emotional emotional climax of the album, so I’ve always felt those songs hit pretty hard.

After finishing the 2nd Achtung Baby section, the band said goodnight, but of course returned for their encore. The encore was kind of a greatest rocking hits section, where they did songs like Elevation, Vertigo, Where the Streets Have No Name, Beautiful Day, and of course, their new Vegas anthem Atomic City.  I won’t spoil Atomic City either, but it had some of my favorite visuals of the show.
Let's talk about some of the visuals. We were concerned that where we were sitting, we would be so close to the screen that we couldn’t appreciate the whole thing.  There were times that we found ourselves looking around and above to take everything in, but I don’t think we missed out on anything by being so close. There was another concern about getting dizzy. Some people get Vertigo (ha!) in Imax theaters, and the Sphere is like Imax on steroids. We only felt a little dizzy at one point, and that was during “Even Better Than The Real Thing.” So during this song, it has maybe the most impressive and complicated graphics of the entire show. They are structured like a moving monument to Elvis and Vegas, and they slowly and steadily move downward. I was looking up at these graphics and following them down with my eyes. When my eyes got to the fixed point of the stage, it felt like the stage was tilting up from the back and we were about to all fall over. They don’t really use any flying or moving visuals that might convey motion from the viewer’s point of view, so there weren’t any other times I felt dizzy or motion-sick.
A few words about sound quality, since we are discussing a rock concert. Overall, I think the sound was excellent. The mix was superb, and I could hear every instrument. I’ve seen them live in arenas where we sat in the nosebleeds and Bono’s voice was all tinny. I’ve watched a lot of videos taken from different vantage points in the Sphere, and the sound is pretty good in all of them, especially considering that it’s going into a crappy cell phone mic. It’s worth noting that aside from 4-5 monitors on stage for the band, you don’t see a single speaker anywhere in the venue. 

At the end of the day, I think if you don’t like the band - if they just rub you wrong no matter what they do - you’re probably going to stay away, and that’s fine. If you like a few of their songs and want to see a rock concert unlike anything else you’ve seen, it’s worth checking out. And if you call yourself a fan, then you really shouldn’t miss out on this experience. I think a band or artist could be intimidated by this venue and this space, it would be easy to be afraid of being upstaged by the visuals and the scale of everything, but I think U2 is the perfect group to launch this facility. 25 years ago they were touring with (what was at the time) the biggest video screen in the world, so these are guys who know how to utilize large scale visuals in their shows and embrace the technology.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Blue Man Group

Who farted?
 Do you have that one piece of media that you would like to check out, but never seem to get around to it? Like, you’re scrolling through Netflix, and there’s that one movie that you’re interested in checking out, but not this time. Or the next time, or the time after that. It’s always there, and you’re interested, but not interested enough to dive in at the moment. That, my friends, is how Blue Man Group was for me until recently.

I’ve known who the Blue Man Group was for over 20 years now. I remember there was an Intel Pentium TV commercial that they starred in, and a little Googling tells me that was in the year 2000.  Sometime after that, I borrowed their album - yes, they have albums - from a friend, because I really liked the unique sound they had. And when I took my very first grownup trip to Vegas in 2002, I stayed at the Luxor, where BMG has had their Las Vegas home off and on since the year 2000.

Men beat their 'bone, live on stage!
I’ve never been one to mince words in my reviews, so I’ll say up front that I liked Blue Man Group. But I’m having a hard time describing Blue Man Group.  I left the theater thinking, “I don’t know what the fuck I just saw, but I’m pretty sure I liked it.” Kind of like a donkey show in Tijuana, but a little more family friendly.

So the Blue Man Group itself goes all the way back to 1987. Created as a sort of performance art by three friends in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the group started with street performances which gradually grew to full on stage productions.  People in New York like weird artsy shit.  Gradually it became a phenomenon, with worldwide tours, 3 albums, and more blue latex than any person should have access to. The Blue Man Group brand was sold to Cirque du Soliel in 2017, another Vegas mainstay.

So what the hell is it? The show is kind of a techo-surreal experience.  Three Blue Men guide the audience through various experiences, like making music, art, and marshmallow tossing.  Without spoken words, the show manages to explore themes of science and technology, information overload, and cultural norms.  The characters have a sort of naive curiosity in their behavior. It can come across as mime-like in its execution, but there’s more to it than that. The characters seem like visitors from another world, and their experiments and explorations address our assumptions about the world around us.


Imagine colored paint leaking out of a member’s chest hole onto an under-lit drum that flashes brightly when struck, showing colored drops of paint splattering through the air. If you are thinking that this seems weird as fuck, you’re right, but there’s a sort of mystical coolness about this when BMG does it on stage.  Watch as they play wild instruments custom made from PVC pipe and create songs that are absolute bangers.They play songs that the group has created themselves, along with well-known classics like Beethoven’s Fur Elise, pop songs like Bad Romance, and even tease a little Freebird.

Audience Fuckery Factor:
Minimal, but they do go out in the audience looking for volunteers. They look for people raising hands, so don’t raise your hand if you don’t want to go onstage.
And just like a trip to Sea World, avoid the first several rows if you don’t want to get splashed.  I think they hand out plastic rain ponchos, because I saw several people with them.

The show plays with light (you may be blinded by the lights during the show) and sound (I highly recommend ear plugs).

This could be you!

The theater is nice. It has a capacity of 830 people. There is a low slope on the house floor, so you may have people blocking your view.  I recommend row AA if you don’t want anyone directly in front of you, but you also don’t want to be splashed or singled out.

Shows are 2 - 3 times /day everyday of the week.  Tickets start at $49.  This is a great value show.  I also think it works well as a family show, or show to take the in-laws to when they decide they want to join in Vegas because you’re always going there.

Thursday, July 27, 2023


On the next "Chicks you don't want to break up with:"

I think there’s been more talk about this show since it opened than any other Vegas show in memory.
  Good or bad, people are talking about Awakening.

We saw the show in late February 2023, when we were in town for the Half Marathon and 360 Vegas Winter Vacation.

Before we get to the review, let’s talk about how Wynn got here.  When the resort opened in 2005, it opened with the production show La Reve. Like Awakening, La Reve had its share of problems.  Developed by Franco Dragone from Cirque, who Steve Wynn poached from Cirque.  Dragone was instrumental in developing Mystere and “O” for Wynn at Treasure Island and Bellagio. The sort-of Steve Wynn biography “Winner Takes All” talks about the mixed reactions to La Reve in the beginning, including bewildering acts like pregnant women falling from the ceiling during the show.  We almost saw Le Reve in July of 2020, but shows weren’t cleared to reopen, and our front row seats were refunded to us. Permanent closure of La Reve was announced Aug 14, 2020.

Complete with giant mythical forest creatures!

Wynn announced Awakening  in October, 2022.  The show was developed by Bernie Yuman, Baz Halpin, and puppeteer Michael Curry.  Theater aficionados might recognize Michael Curry’s puppet work from The Lion King Broadway production. Awakening opened November 7, 2022 but closed briefly for a few weeks for rehearsals/changes in January. The show closed again April 17, ‘22, and at the time of this writing is scheduled to reopen Friday, June 23.

So you want my opinion?  I think this is a really good show. It has a unique story and great visuals, which include fantastic costumes, innovative puppets, and a state of the art stage.

The story is like nothing I’ve seen on a Vegas stage. It has its own mythology, and the groundwork for the story set up in the prologue. (I believe the prologue was added after the January hiatus, and the addition of this prologue has cleared up a lot of confusion around the story that surrounded the show’s brief first run.)  Essentially, the story goes: Light and Dark are lovers, and together create Magic. Light leaves, Dark freaks out, and Dark imprisons Magic. Custody battles suck. Heroine “IO” sneaks into Black and White ball that Dark is holding in a sort of heist. IO finds Magic, and ends up on a quest to unite Dark and Light, and free Magic.  Together with her companions, she travels through multiple “realms,” like Water, Earth, Air, and Fire.

The Awakening theater is gorgeous. It is a theater in the round, so there are really no bad seats.  At the time I saw the show, Wynn charged the most for seats in the back, presumably because you can see it all better?  (A look at ticket prices for the June reopening indicates that this is not the case in the future.) There are individual surround sound speakers at each seat, so every seat has great audio.  Seats are also quite comfortable.
Have you heard the word?

The stage itself is a technological marvel.  It is constantly changing levels in sections to create different environments. The stage floor is translucent, and underlit, for additional effects.  Michael Curry’s puppets - the word “puppet” seems way too insignificant for his creations - are incredible. Personal favorites include a giant whale that seems to swim above you, and a rock creature that comes alive on the stage.  Of particular note is the creepy blank-face dark creature that serves as Dark’s chief henchman.  The show makes full use of the theater space, so the story feels like it plays out everywhere, not only are you looking side to side, but up and down as well.

Audience Fuckery Factor: Zero.  No one's messing with you, so sit back and just enjoy the show.

Not sure if drinks were allowed in the theater. No drink service during show, but there was a bar in the theater lobby.

When the show resumes on June 23, showtimes are set for 7 and 9:30 pm. Shows are Tuesdays through Saturdays, dark Sundays and Mondays. Tickets start at $99 on

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Brew Dog


To summarise, although there were multiple service issues, it didn’t spoil our enjoyment. This place should do very well, having good beers, burgers and pizza right off the bat. The draw is going to be that roof terrace, the drawback is going to be the location. Price wise it’s in line with the rest of the strip with $11 beers and food at resort level pricing. Overall in our opinion, it’s worth a visit. It will be interesting to hear what other people think.