When you think of a resort named Mandalay Bay, you probably picture beach-like pools surrounded by bikini-clad hotties and as many umbrellas stuck in tropical drinks as in the sand. That image isn’t wrong. However, you need to append that vision when you realize a corner of the casino floor has been cordoned off for a music-themed restaurant and two-story palace of rock, better known as the House of Blues.
I’ve seen more shows at HOB-LV than I can count since it opened in 1999 and, time after time, it rarely disappoints when it comes to the quality of the musicians, the courtesy and professionalism of the staff, and the value of the shows. It’s no wonder that bands like Ben Folds, Cake, Sevendust, AFI, Bad Religion, Saliva, and more. It’s a great venue for bands with loyal fan followings or for smaller acts who’ve banded together for mini-festival like showcases. The acoustics are great. There’s generally not a bad place to listen. If you’re going to a hard rock or punk show, be advised to pack some ear plugs or risk ringing in your ears for days afterward. The sounds guys at HOB-LV like it loud.
Most shows are general admission, so wear comfy shoes. You’ll be standing. In some cases, you can buy premium seats or opt for the second-floor theater-style seating. Yes, you won’t get trampled up there, but the energy is not nearly as good as being in the crush of sweaty fans on the floor.
Like any Vegas casino-based club, drinks are not cheap, so I wouldn’t plan to come here and get smashed cheaply. A round of two mixed drinks with house liquor will run you about $20 (including tip). That said, the bartenders are very nice and prompt in taking your money and serving your beverages. The cocktail waitresses are some of the bravest in the business, cruising through crowds with trays held inches above mohawk after mohawk. That, in and of itself, it a sight to see. The security staff are some of the nicest in town. In these days of liability-conscious venue management, they do allow mosh pits and supervise them well. They clear “unfriendly fans” from the floor within seconds so the music continues uninterrupted.
Staff and drinks aside, this place is all about the music. All kinds, all types, all the time. If you’re coming to Vegas, be sure to check the schedule and see if there’s anyone you like at the venue during your stay. Or, even better, see a band you’ve never heard of. Meet some new prople Getting some diversity in your personal playlist and your contacts is a definite win if you’re in Vegas. In the end, that’s what this place is all about: Unity through Diversity.
[Photo by Nancy Syzdek]