Hall of Fame Bands Use Park Theaters Tools To Provide Vegas One-Of-A Kind Show

Dan Bernbach knows good sound. He studied music at Indiana University and is a lyric baritone. He vasilated between teaching and performing, sometimes on cruise ships before getting an MBA and joining MGM’s Executive Associate program. Two years later. at 34,  he is opening Vegas’ newest theater-The Park.

Dan Bernbach
Dan Bernbach

The June 9th Doobie Brothers-Chicago billing sounded like a lot of fun. I had not seen either in ten years, but what I remembered was both being great live. The first thing my wife Vicki noticed, when the Doobie Brothers opened at the Park Theater was the staggered seating.  We missed it at the opening, but it is subtle. Each seat is facing the space between the seat in front of you. How many times have you gone to a concert, only to have a six foot seven guy sitting in front of you (ugh!). No problem here!


Over the past fifty years, I have seen a dozen iterations of Chicago and Doobie Brothers.   In the seventies and eighties, both appeared regularly at Summerfest or the Wisconsin State Fair.  Most of my early live music experiences were at outdoor events. While, rock was still developing, the quality of the live experience was more about seeing the band than the quality of the production. Things have changed…

I often surf YouTube for old memories and new music.  I came across a 1970 recording of Chicago performing 25 or 6 to 4 . We remember the hits, but this band could (and still can) jam!  Its live performance is more than a trip down memory lane. They are great nine-piece band with new and old influences.


7/11/76: Aladdin Marquee with Chicago

Those left from the original Chicago were Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow Walt Parazaider. The last time I saw the band, with Cetera, was in April 21st, 1985 when they played Thomas and Mack Center. After that tour, Cetara left the band and so began Chicago’s transition.

Chicago-Thomas and Mack Center-April 21, 1985

Chicago has a great live show. Nine people on stage, seeming to play four instruments each, an incredible horn section and great singers singing great songs. These band members legitimately enjoy what they do. They are engaging and fun, especially James Pankow who’s energy is infectious.  “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re the Inspiration” demonstrated the power of the Park’s LED video system. There is no bigger or better in theater.  “The wall is 80 feet wide by 40 feet tall. It’s five point two millimeter pixel pitch makes it the largest and highest resolution LED wall in a theatrical venue”, says Bernbach. “It’s like you are watching HD TV. The show left the traveling screens in the truck.  Both bands mixed songs with clips of heartfelt videos of the past.

Chicago Set-list

  1.  Ballet for a Girl From Buchannon
  2. Encore:

The band’s production created a wall of sound The show was a mix of deeper cuts and hits played by a band (setlist clip) that sounds better now than fifty years ago.

The Doobie Brothers opened. After a respite in the early eighties, they played Thomas and Mack Center for the first time September 9th, 1989. Tonight, three original members, Patrick Simmons, Tom Johnston and John McFee were joined by four other great musicians, including Billy Payne-Little Feat. The Doobie Brothers Legacy has been built upon not just kick hit records, but an unrivaled commitment to musical integrity and a steadfast allegiance to their enthusiastic fans. The band evolved in a constantly changing industry and have connected to generations of new fans.

Doobie Brothers Set List

  1. Sweet Maxine

The 5,000 in the sold-out Park Theater ranged in age from thirty to seventy-five. Simmons talks about their fans, “We have a hard-core fan base that has handed our music down through the years to their children and their children’s children. Repeatedly people go to work concerts in come up to us and say, ‘my dad turned me onto you guy’s years ago and I love you guys all this time and my kids are listening to you now”.

 “We are basically an American band-we cover a lot of areas” says Johnston. “We cover blues R&B Country bluegrass and rock’n roll it’s based on rhythms rhythm structures picking and harmonies”. After the audience and band got to know each other, the Doobies rocked “Clear as the Driven Snow,” complete with a drum solo by Ed Toth and Bill Payne. “Takin’ It to the Streets,” “Without You” and “China Grove” vamped up the set. I am more of a fan of the Tom Johnston era. That was who the Doobie Brothers were that night.

A great sound, incredible video display and two of the greatest bands in the world made for one memorable evening.