Las Vegas’ love affair with the piano twists as tight and everlasting as martinis and olives. It’s a town that came of age in the candlelight reflection atop Liberace’s jewel-studded Steinway. It’s a city that can always find time for a song or a serenade whether played on stage by a hyperactive showman or a smooth piano-man to a steak, sizzling and rare, done just the way you like it.
The first thing that strikes you about this restaurant is its odd exterior. It’s fondly referred to as the Bird Cage at Crystals, Las Vegas’ latest presentation of upscale shopping at CityCenter. The venue of white tablecloths and white-gloved service perches like a tree house over the open interior of Crystals in a pod of exotic wood slats. The dramatic design curries expectation for what lies within: a menu with more than a dozen types of seafood entrees on top of a listing of super-sized filets and T-bones. And you can enjoy the entrees at the piano if you want. Starting at 6:30 pm nightly, a player takes requests, often accompanied by a chanteuse, and the birdcage that is Mastro’s comes alive with music while patrons dine in soft light and melody. A couple of couples might take their surf and turf to the piano and dine with the maestro. Others may sit at the bar and be served a full menu while the music plays on.
This place could at any moment erupt in an explosion of Le Marseillaise, led by a team of dueling pianists playing to a rowdy crowd of not-so-French lounge enthusiasts singing at an unabashed pitch. Normally, this spot on the Rue de la Pais between Bally’s and Paris has a refined allure in crystal chandelier lighting illuminating rouge chairs and walls. It serves pricey wines and Champagnes and provides a complementary menu of foie gras and caviar. But on any given night, a pair of dueling pianists take over and engage the crowd in a cavalcade of sing-along’s and rousing show tunes. No snobbery here. It’s all liberté, égalité and fraternité for this crowd.
Each night, a rotating pair of dueling piano teams perform musical hits on 2 baby grand pianos. All 4 players join together on stage multiple times throughout the evening for even more excitement as the venue erupts into singing, laughing and dancing. Pete's Dueling Piano Bar opened in Las Vegas in 2009 in a city saturated with ultra clubs and hookah bars. The fresh and fun entertainment appeals to the range of ages who find the lack of a cover and $5-$7 cocktails to be the right price for a casual night of fun. Although no food is served here (if you like peanuts you’ll have to bring your own) reservations are recommended on weekend nights.
Find some Vegas comfort on a hot summer afternoon inside the cool confines of this wacky and charged piano workout by comedic maestro Ryan Ahern. The guy plays Broadway to rock and roll music, working the keys like a card dealer on steroids, yet through all the complexity and speed does not miss a beat with his jokes and singing. He’s backed by a band of six. The range of styles runs from contemporary to classic with such medleys as Maroon Five's “This Love” and Seal's “Kiss From a Rose,” to Ray Charles' “Mess Around,” Jerry Lee Lewis' “Great Balls of Fire” and Queen's “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The audience often participates, but this is a Vegas show and is a bargain performance.
Las Vegas is a musician’s city that takes its ivory keys seriously. Don the tails, grab a martini and prepare for a romantic musical journey through the neon.
Lark Ellen Gould is a journalist who focuses on culture trends and curiosities in Las Vegas. She has written more than 5 books about the city.