For the first time in history, Brazil’s 30-year-old Rock in Rio music festival touched down in the USA. During our All Access Chill expedition to all of this summer’s music festivals, we warmed up backstage with Cirque du Soleil, got up close and personal with Lar Ulrich’s drum set, and boosted one lucky fan onto the main stage for a quick photo with Gwen Stefani. With a free Slurpee® in hand, we mapped out the festival grounds and created this illustrated guide for people heading to Pop Weekend, or those simply interested in seeing where the magic happens.
That magic we mentioned? This is where it all happens. Rock in Rio upholds a serious commitment to the environment, so the main stage sitting on the Northern end of the strip in Las Vegas had a first class ticket from Brazil. That’s right, they flew the main stage, and the rest of the permanent structures, to Vegas instead of building them out just to tear down. Designed to emulate the festival’s theme of reciprocity, the main stage structure is covered in a series of concave and convex mirrors to keep the sound waves roving back and forth between crowd and performer. When the final headliners play, the crowd almost fills the entire lawn, from the main stage to the VIP lounge on the other side of the grounds. If you’re gunning for a front row spot, make sure to walk over and stake it out early.
The EDM stage looks like a spaceship that got lost on its travels to a faraway planet. It sits on massive, white, robotic legs that hold a round roof over top of the DJ booth. It’s the one area on the festival grounds that literally beats to its own drum, blasting dance music for a small, sweat-drenched crowd at all hours of the night. Even if dance music isn’t your forte, make a point of walking over to check out the autonomous party happening right under your nose.
The VIP lounge is an air-conditioned haven fully equipped for the truly important attendee. Wolfgang Puck’s catered spread had guests lunching on traditional Brazilian feijoada, snacking on afternoon charcuterie and kettle popcorn, and feasting on late night spiced, fried chicken and sweet waffles. Big, white cushions sprinkled an elevated lawn looking out over the festival grounds. From here, festivalgoers watched Gwen Stefani rock out to “Spiderwebs.” Then they headed to the bottom floor for a photo op, a free Slurpee and a quick bathroom break before wrapping up Rock in Rio USA’s first day ever.
If you’re facing the Rock in Rio USA grounds from the outside, the Evolution Stage looks like a giant iceberg. The massive, geometric design makes its performances some of the most photogenic at the festival. During Rock Weekend, Gary Clark Jr. had the entire field illuminated in blue light as he serenaded the crowd while the sun went down.
Free. Slurpee. Need we say more? The Slurpee Truck at Rock in Rio USA is strategically placed dead center of Rock Street and the Main Stage. If you’ve never been to Vegas, we’ve got news for you: it’s in the desert. Download the 7-Eleven® app and stop by the truck for a quick Slurpee chill down. Did we mention it’s free?
Rock Street Brazil brought a few essential pieces of the City of Rock in Brazil to the United States. Bossa Nova engulfed the row of shops and bustling performers, while festivalgoers watched a capoeira performance between sets.
From the pubs to the Irish dancers, Rock Street UK was packed the entire weekend. Rowdy rockers Stone the Beatles took the stage to entertain onlookers posted up for drinks in the early spring evenings.
Break-dancers, magicians and flip-flops: the pride and joy of American culture were all present on Rock Street USA. A jovial magician captivated a small crowd waiting in line for hot dogs and french fries.
Smack dab in the middle of Rock Street USA is an illuminated Slurpee pop-up store. Unlike most of the tents in the festival: no need to re-up on “Rock Cash” to hit this stand. Download the 7-Eleven app and scan it for a free Slurpee.
Credit: All photography by Antonio Abrego