Nightlife | R. Kelly at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino

By: Katrina Honer

If you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, skip the slots and indulge in a show at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino. Since I am not much of a gambler, I had the pleasure to watch R. Kelly perform his most popular R&B hits and reminisce with other fans about how long it has been since we have heard some of his most popular singles.


The casino’s location is a relief for those who do not want to drive as far as Casino Morongo, Pechanga or even Vegas to enjoy a night of good adult fun. Located just off the 210 freeway, as you drive up Victoria Avenue, you soon approach the casino that is a sparkling oasis in the city of Highland, nestled against the San Bernardino Mountains as its backdrop.

My date and I walked through the halls passing singing slot machines and poker games to the entrances of the showroom where we approached several twisting lines of eager patrons ready for R. Kelly. The showroom’s max capacity is 3700 people, and the show sold over 3400 tickets.


When the doors opened at 6:30p.m., we were ushered through metal detectors before making our way to our seats. To my surprise, the showroom was actually an enormous ballroom beautifully transformed into a music hall. Chairs were arranged in perfectly straight and curved rows recreating the look and feel of an amphitheater. The usher kindly guided us to our seats in the T section in the “Deluxe” seating area, smack dab in the middle of the showroom, with a perfect view of the stage and plenty of leg room. Three large monitors, one center stage and two others adjacent to the stage, dominated the walls guaranteeing everyone a perfect view of the show regardless of where anyone was seated.


With an hour left before R. Kelly took the stage, fans passed the time by heading toward the back of the venue to begin the night grabbing drinks at one of the two wet bars or a meal from concession stand.


I couldn’t help but notice a crowd of excited women that swarmed the merchandise table to secure their first choice of the best R. Kelly memorabilia to purchase. There was an even larger crowd of fans that stood in line to enter a drawing for a chance to win a cash prize of either $250 at 7:20p.m. and 10:30p.m. A grand prize of $500 would also be awarded at 11:30p.m. With nothing to lose (literally), I prayed lady lucky would be on my side and entered my name into the drawing.


As I made my way back to my seat, the lights finally dimmed to complete darkness and the roar that erupted from the crowd became deafening. There would be no sitting at this concert as everyone stood standing, cellphone in hand, ready to record a night I could already tell would be amazing. Although signs outside the showroom stated “No Video or Camera allowed,” the staff did not seem to mind as the entire room glowed under cellphone blue light and camera flashes.


The center stage remained empty except for the glimmering monitor showing a monochrome image of what might have been the Los Angeles skyline. With still no R. Kelly in sight, his smooth voice began to resonate over the speakers and the screams only got louder. Moments later, R. Kelly appeared from behind the thick mist and multi-color strobe lights adorned in a sparkling black gold jacket, shades and cap singing the first song of the evening, “My Story.” I could feel the floor buck and wobble as those around me danced and jumped to every beat.


As I made my way to the stage, R. Kelly transitioned to another song where he ducked down low within arm’s reach of his screaming fans and threw a handful of bills into the audience. While I was not a lucky winner of the $250 and $500 prize that evening, I was lucky enough to catch a dollar that once belonged to this esteemed singer.


R. Kelly sang a variety of his newer singles and old school jams including “I’m a Flirt,” “Cookie” and “I Believe I Can Fly,” which you might remember from the movie Space Jam.

And as all good things come to an end, R. Kelly’s grand finale was a memorable throwback performance of “Step in the Name Love” where couples and friends alike paid homage by performing the signature "Love Slide." And I speak for every die hard R. Kelly fan who attended that evening—you could not help but love every minute of the show!

If you are interested in catching your favorite band, artist or comedian perform live at San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, check out their upcoming event schedule here.

San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino is located at 777 San Manuel Boulevard in Highland, California. For more information call (800) 359-2464 or visit their website.

Full Disclosure: Show tickets were provided complimentary by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, however all opinions are 100% our own.