Whatever might be debated about the inaugural Rock in Rio USA -- an uneven lineup and fuzzy attendance numbers are among the contested issues -- no one could argue that the two-weekend gathering in Las Vegas wasn’t as comfortable as any ever produced. That was especially true of the pricey VIP area (single-day pass: $498), where Wolfgang Puck's team served internationally themed food. Even in the AstroTurfed non-VIP zones of the 33-acre permanent site, all felt agreeably laid-back.
But if that elbow room made a cozy environment for visitors, it may have been a little too comfortable for the promoters. With a lineup that included Metallica, Bruno Mars, No Doubt and even the unofficial opening of Taylor Swift's U.S. tour, the Circus Circus-adjacent field had a reported 172,000 admissions during four days, or an average daily attendance of 43,000, according to festival organizers. (The Las Vegas Metro Police Department gave local papers some daily attendance numbers well below Rock in Rio’s, including a 29,715 figure for the peak day, headlined by Mars, which Rock in Rio had at 48,000.) The fest's official figures led most media to report attendance as generally half-full, since Rock in Rio had previously announced a daily capacity of 80,000. But Global Entertainment CEO Randy Phillips (who booked the main-stage talent) says the shows averaged closer to 75 percent of capacity, adding that local permitting had resulted in an actual cap of 65,000.