My name is Alexandra Baackes, and I have a confession to make. Seeing the Princess of Pop live in Las Vegas? It was a highlight of my twenty-six years on this planet. And I’m not ashamed.
The fact that a preteen in the early 2000’s was obsessed with Britney Spears doesn’t need much of an explanation. The fact that a (not a girl not yet a) grown woman today still regularly requests her songs at bars to the great disdain of hipster DJs everywhere? I don’t really have anything to say for myself other than the cult of Britney is an addictive one. (And I really had to stop myself from making another song title reference there.)
Anyway, ever since my girl started a residency a the AXIS Theater at Planet Hollywood, I’ve had a laser-like determination to land a ticket. But Brit and I are busy ladies, and twice now I’ve had the painful experience of flying away from McCarran International Airport sans Piece of Me ticket stub. I was not going to let that happen again, which is how I ended up basically planing an entire six week trip around getting to see this show.
Zoe, Emma and I ended up getting tickets for a Wednesday, which obviously is little more low key of a night than a Friday or Saturday, even in Vegas. But we had plans to make it a big one regardless. The girls gave me the reigns to planning the night of our collective dreams, and I knew exactly where to kick it off: happy (half) hour on The High Roller at The LINQ.
I took a brief spin on the High Roller on my fourth Vegas trip when it was still in it’s first few thousand rotations and loved seeing Sin City all lit up at night from above — it nearly rivaled the helicopter ride I’d taken over the Strip on my second Vegas trip. I knew I wanted Zoe and Emma to have this amazing experience, but I was hoping to try something new as well, so we settled on a daytime ride at 5pm (pretty much the last rotation before the slightly pricier night tickets kick in), and went for the fun open bar option.
It was so worth it.
Day time is a little less crowded, and so we had a whole pod to ourselves! Thirty minutes flew by as we chatted with our sweet bartender (who generously poured us special shots at the top and to-go drinks at the bottom — you definitely get your money’s worth out of the open bar), took a million photos, sipped on our premium cocktails, and soaked up the views of The Strip. Once again I loved the experience and feel that it’s more or less a Vegas must! Sober rolls are $22 by day and $32 by night, and open bar versions are $37 by day and $44 by night. All in all, aoretty perfect way to start — or end — any Vegas outing.
After disembarking, we didn’t have far to stroll. We’d made early dinner reservations at Chayo, steps away from the High Roller in The Linq, which was a fun and tasty if a bit more casual than I remembered from my previous visit. Before I knew it we were back in our room, changing into our much-discussed concert outfits, debating our favorite Britney tunes, and just generally losing our shit over what was about to go down.
We were about to get a piece of Britney.
When the doors opened, I was surprised by how intimate The Axis theater felt. While we were relatively far back, there was a really gradual slope to the seating section, and so we were pretty close to eye level with the stage. I’ve never been in a theater quite like it before and I really enjoyed it — no seats felt like nosebleeds.
When the curtains opened, a theater full of fans roared to life.
Between the big fat nostalgia bomb of the music, the hyperventilating with sensory overload and the sweet sensation of a longtime dream coming true, I’m pretty sure I blacked out with excitement for some portions of the show. Guys.
Britney was SO FIERCE. I have to admit I was a tad nervous leading up to the show. I’d heard reviews that the star appeared to be just going through the motions, that her dancing was robotic and that her heart was clearly anywhere but the stage.
But the woman we saw on stage that night? She was having a blast. And it wasn’t just a one-off — stories began to circulate that Britney was officially back.
There was room for improvement. A number where a fan was brought onstage for a weird S&M skit felt off-brand for Britney — she seemed awkward throughout it — and we were surprised by how little she chatted to the audience. The biggest issue however was the lack of screens. Unlike almost every other show of this scale I’ve ever been to, there were no live cameras on the stage at any time. It was frustrating when we were dying to see the details of the gorgeous sets and costumes onstage — not to mention our girl up close and personal! I’ve heard rumors that this was expressly written into Britney’s contract because she was shy about lip synching. Who knows what the real reason is — I can’t fathom any show producer making that choice, though — but I hope everyone involved reconsiders. Brit, girl, you are ready for your close-up!
(Speaking of close ups — while others around us were straight up filming the entire production with their iPhones, I was chastised a couple times for taking quick snaps with my Canon PowerShot G7X, I have no idea why they were treated different by security, but just a heads up in case you’re planning to bring a camera in place of a smart phone!)
Those gripes aside, it was a top notch Vegas production — elaborate sets, impressive choreography, beautiful costumes, and one very enthusiastic performer.
This show is serious fan service. I’d resisted peeking at the show playlist ahead of time, and was giddy when they played pretty much every classic hit I was hoping to hear. I had sky high expectations for this show and it hit them. No kidding — when she extended her residency into 2016, I started looking at my calendar to see if I could possibly hit this baby one more time.
We were on a high when the curtains closed. Happy tears were definitely involved. I proposed drinks at my perennial favorite, The Chandelier, in order to dissect our favorite numbers and allow our heart rates to return to normal. With The Cosmopolitan right across the street from Planet Hollywood, it was a natural next step.
Inspired by Britney’s moves, we knew we had to hit a dance floor before heading home. While weekends in Vegas are total free-for-alls and you can pretty much walk into any establishment serving booze and find a party, mid-week requires a bit more strategizing. When we heard there was an industry night at Chateau at Paris Las Vegas, which just so happened to be en route on our stroll home (I avoid cabs when possible in Vegas — they are stupidly expensive and it’s fun to walk The Strip), we figured it would be rude not to pop by.
Once our feet gave their final protest, we capped off the night with a silly (and somewhat tipsy at this point, let’s admit it) photo shoot back at The Flamingo.
All in all, I’m not sure if a more perfect Vegas night has ever existed (and yes, I’ve seen The Hangover.) Just writing this post has me aching for a time machine so I could go back and do the whole thing over again. Fellow Britney fans? Point your compass towards The Axis theater. Keep an eye out for me — I’ll be the one ugly crying in the next row.
Have you ever traveled for a bucket list concert or show? Was it worth it? Also, sister Britney fans reveal yourself! Let’s talk greatest hits in the comments.
Many thanks to Viator for providing High Roller tickets and Britney Spears for personally hosting me at Piece of Me. (Okay, fine, I suppose it was more like Caesars Entertainment Group, but can you just let a girl dream a little? Jeez.) As always, you receive my honest thoughts, full opinions and poorly written jokes regardless of who is footing the bill.