I was not a fan of the Joint concert hall inside the Hard Rock Hotel. Oh, sure I saw dozens of shows there — including Modest Mouse, Morrissey, Marilyn Manson, No Doubt and Air — but its cavernous, boxy design, poor sightlines, impossible bar situation, echoey sound and irritating traffic flow made it somewhat less than a stellar live music venue.
But with the property-wide remodeling of the Hard Rock, the Joint has been shuttered (closed down with a two-night stint by Motley Crue) and across the casino floor, an entirely new Joint has been erected. The $60 million venue is double the size and capacity of its predecessor — adding 700 fixed balcony seats and seven VIP suites — yet retains the relatively intimate feel audiences have come to know, with no seat more than 155 feet from the stage.
Designed by renowned Montreal architectural firm Scéno Plus, the new concert hall incorporates new features such as wireless internet access, a full blogging station for media and 38 flat screens throughout the venue. Oddly, the blogging station, located near the main doors next to the balcony escalator, is not within sight of either one of those flat screens or the actual stage.
Despite that minor complaint, I have to admit: It’s a beautiful improvement over the old Joint. The general floor area now has multiple, staggered levels (unlike the two sharp drops in the original). The bar area, which caused much misery due to its proximity to the exits and its understaffing, is now greatly expanded and enclosed behind half walls. With glass and steel accents, lighted guitar fretboard walls and multiple viewing levels, this new Joint feels like a real, modern concert venue and not a makeshift gymnasium — a distinction it had to make once the much-better-equipped Pearl concert hall opened at the Palms a few years ago.
Of course, the real proof of success will come when the first shows hit the new Joint this weekend: The Killers on Friday, Avenged Sevenfold on Saturday and Sir Paul McCartney himself on Sunday. Not that you’d be able to get tickets to the Friday or Sunday gigs, but Aveneged Sevenfold — if that’s your thing — still has spots available. If anyone goes to any of this opening weekend’s shows, swing back by here and let me know how they went. I’m curious if the sound in the new Joint is as much of an improvement over its predecessor as its aesthetics already have proven to be.