Weezer performs following the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las ...

NFL draft’s opening night on Las Vegas Strip capped by free Weezer concert

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What works in Vegas? No-cover Weezer on the Strip.

Rivers Cuomo and the crew threw a charge into several thousand fans at the NFL Draft Theater, behind the High Roller at Linq Promenade. Official numbers are to be released after the event, but the crowd stretched from the main stage far past the dedicated 1,500-capacity seated section, out to the venue’s barriers at Linq Lane. Suffice to say, a lot of folks. By my eye, it is comparable to the crush of New Year’s Eve revelers on the Fremont Street Experience.

The shows at Draft Theater play festival-style. The venue is just next to the NFL Draft Experience, which is a half-size football field of artificial turf (run the 40-yard dash, take selfies, etc.) and such displays as a history and exhibit of Super Bowl rings.

Advice is to load NFL OnePass app for all the details to the free-of-charge venues. More advice, stand as close to the covered pavilion as possible. If you’re on the back area, up the steps and facing the stage, you get some serious musical slap-back from the buildings behind you.

But that mattered little to the vibe for Weezer, for whom a little echo might be a little welcome. The band soared through a 10-song set lasting about 50 minutes. The setlist included “Hash Pipe,” “Buddy Holly,” and “Say It Ain’t So.” The band also charged through rote covers of Toto’s “Africa” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” As the lyrics “Take my hand, off to never-never land” landed on that crowd, you felt the words symbolized the NFL’s first draft foray into Las Vegas.

Aratas are heard

Ukrainian-born Jenny Arata of The Skating Aratas of “V — The Ultimate Variety Show” addressed the NFL Draft Theater crowd before the start of the first round.

With all of the NFL draft prospects standing behind her, Arata threw her fist in the air and thanked the crowd. Her message, “It has been extremely difficult for us to watch, from so far away, the destruction of our home, and to talk to our family members who have remained throughout this devastation. I’m inspired by the strength and unity of our people. We remain humbled by the outpouring of support from the entire world, and all over the U.S.A.”

The Skating Aratas, Jenny and her husband, Victor, have performed in Vegas since opening with “Absinthe” in April 2011. The duo is currently a featured act in the variety show at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Jenny Arata is from Kyiv, and has planned, performed in and spoken out at several events supporting her native country. On March 31, the Aratas and producer David Saxe staged a show featuring an entirely Ukrainian cast at V Theater. The event sold out, and don’t rule out a return.

Viva Rep Vegas

Kodi Lee of “America’s Got Talent Live” at Luxor and magician Mat Franco of Linq Hotel appeared at the Draft Theater prior to the selection of first-round picks. Planet Hollywood mainstay Criss Angel, the Las Vegas Academy Singers, Jabbawockeez at MGM Grand, the cast of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace and the incoming Cirque du Soleil show “Mad Apple” at New York-New York played to the Strip at Red Carpet Stage.

Today (Friday) Angel is at Draft Theater. Lee, Terry Fator and Blue Man Group are at Red Carpet Stage.

“Mad Apple,” the newest Cirque new production, especially got a boost from the exposure. Cirque President Eric Grilly said in a statement, “The NFL draft coming to Las Vegas is another big moment for the city and bringing Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group’s iconic acts to the event is an exciting opportunity for us to show our support. With the opening of our newest show next month, we welcome the opportunity to introduce ‘Mad Apple.’”

Comic Brad Williams and aerial acts performed from the new show, with a premiere set for May 26.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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