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Hit the road, Desert Companion readers! And while you're at it, have a look around. This issue invites you to not only escape to the outdoors, but also to think about the environmental issues affecting our pursuits and our world.

Fans on Tour

A green touring van, drum sticks, an electric guitar, and a record juxtaposed on a yellow background
Ryan Vellinga

Catching Vegas-phobic acts elsewhere can mean visiting some iconic Southwestern venues

Patti Smith. Frank Ocean. Tom Waits. If you’ve seen those artists in the last few decades, you hightailed it out of Las Vegas to do so. Living near venue-rich metropolises such as Los Angeles and Phoenix means being a short car or plane trip to catch music acts that leave Southern Nevada off their tour itineraries. A sampler of the Southwest’s many concert venues worth visiting — regardless who’s on stage:

Pappy + Harriet’s (Pioneertown, California): This dusty throwback near Palm Springs became a live music destination after both Joshua Tree National Park and Indio’s Coachella festival soared in popularity. Since then, performers as big as Paul McCartney have graced the institution’s indoor and outdoor stages. This spring, Vegas fans of the Old 97's and Robyn Hitchcock — among others — might want to consider a trip to Hollywood’s easternmost outpost.

Santa Barbara Bowl (Santa Barbara, California) There’s a reason Radiohead includes this amphitheater on nearly every tour: its hillside placement among gorgeous oak trees, with sweeping views of both the ocean and its host city. Willie Nelson may be snubbing Las Vegas, but he’ll be at this venue in April.

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Orpheum Theatre (Phoenix) Being a younger city, Las Vegas doesn’t boast any pre-WWII theaters. But in Phoenix, the Orpheum has been standing proud for almost 100 years. If you think a band such as Sigur Rós sounds majestic on its own, imagine the added grandeur of a sky-painted dome surrounded by murals and a faux Spanish cityscape.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Hollywood) Los Angelenos have been catching movies in the city’s most historic graveyard for almost a quarter century. But in 2009, the cemetery began hosting live music acts both on its lawn and in its Masonic Lodge, offering unmatched concert ambiance. Wanna see André 3000’s heralded flute act? This is your closest option.

The Rady Shell (San Diego) The Hollywood Bowl may sport the most iconic stage shell in the country, but the three-year-old Rady Shell has the best spot: the San Diego Bay. This summer, be soothed by both the voices of 2024 Vegas no-shows — like Sarah McLachlan and Norah Jones — and the cooling Pacific Ocean breeze.

Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.