Archive for January, 2011

14
Jan
11

Happy Coachella MLK

In celebration of the long weekend, but also today’s “announcement” that Tame Impala will be playing Coachella (!!) here is a little video I made from a camping trip to Yosemite last summer.  The new Tame Impala album had just come out and we were listening to it a lot on that trip, so I had to use “Alter Ego” as the music.

What do you think of Coachella’s 1-band-video-per-day announcement method?  I kinda like it.

Go camping this weekend!  Snow is no excuse!

04
Jan
11

Jay Z, Coldplay, AND Jamie Lidell?? The Cosmopolitan Vegas – New Years Eve

Hey there Vegas fan, do you like the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino but hate how it’s away from the action on the Strip?  More importantly, do you hate how it continues to be associated with only the most douchey and/or has-been music acts of recent memory (check out the upcoming Tiesto residency, Disturbed and Korn double bill, and Santana here), and regret staying in a hotel where those douchey bands’ trashy fans stay?  And maybe your days of needing to score that 8 ball and a hooker at the Circle Bar for your buddy’s bachelor party are behind you, but you’re not quite ready for the lameness/corporate Disneyland-esqueness of the rest of Vegas?  Well the mad bankers at Deutsche Bank (not to be confused with Douche Bank) may have the hotel for you: The Cosmopolitan.  And it may very well become a music lover’s paradise.

Bellagio fountain and Paris view from my Cosmopolitan balcony

one important aspect that might not be getting a ton of press yet is that the Cosmo is going to be plying crowds with great music

If this were a travel blog, I might go into to some detail about the awesome column-sized lobby video installations (and other art), the 3 story Chandelier Bar, the outdoor balconies in most rooms (being outside 40 stories up or more looking down on the Bellagio fountain is pretty sweet), the touchscreen directories every 10 yards, the iPads built into the check-in desks for guest use, its prime location on The Strip between Bellagio and City Center, the free wifi that doesn’t require any logging in and isn’t hard to acquire like most hotels, unique stores like Stitched, and insane restaurants like Jose Andres’ Jaleo (and a $23 buffet that redefines what a Vegas buffet can be), but now having given you this run-on sentence overview, you can go find more about that stuff elsewhere.  Suffice to say, the only bad thing about this place is that its name tends to conjure up pink girly drinks and articles about “99 ways to slim you waist by revving up your sex life.”  And while you will find more aging boomers wandering about here than the Hard Rock (due to its central location), all the beautiful people are here too.

Same view with the fountain in action

The bankers took control of the property a few years ago after they loaned the original developer a bunch of money and that developer defaulted.  Now in an apparent quest to throw good money after bad, and drive the perceived value of the property up enough to sell in a couple years, the Germans are pulling out all the stops.  (read more about the whole ordeal here.)  And it started with a New Years weekend that probably won’t be topped anywhere anytime soon, at least for me: Jay Z and Coldplay with sorta surprise guests Beyonce and Kanye West.  All played in a less than 3000 person tricked-out ballroom with an open bar, champagne and snacks.

Oh and blue-eyed soul crooner/deconstructer/loop-master, Jamie Lidell, for free (as in, you didn’t need to have bought Jay Z tickets), in the casino’s sports book.  WTF?

You see, one important aspect that might not be getting a ton of press yet is that the Cosmo is going to be plying crowds with great music – meaning artists that play our favorite festivals: Coachella, ACL, Bonnaroo, Lolla.  They have hired Austin-based C3 Presents as the exclusive booking agent and that festival-connected company is bringing in the talent.  (Best Coast and Aloe Blacc for free!  Black Keys for pay!)

So this NYE party was the first salvo across the Vegas entertainment bow.  Are there enough indie/festival music fans to help the hotel be a success?  Are they really interested in coming all the way to Vegas for a free show in a sports book rather than paying $30 at their favorite local venue?  And are these music fans who are roughly aged from the mid-20s to late-30s really the audience they should be going after?  I can’t answer, but I hope they don’t change their strategy anytime soon.

As for the shows themselves, well Jamie Lidell was just flat out weird and fun.  Which is what you expect from Mr. Lidell, but the venue only made it more entertainingly incongruent.  He was playing behind the bar and behind a pyramid of bottles on a stage that was strangely oriented.  Very few people in the sparse crowd seemed to have any clue or otherwise even care about this “lounge” act.  (Note: I saw part of his first set on NYE from 10pm-10:40 when people had other places to be.  Saw him again – not knowing it was a multi-day residency (!) – on Jan. 1st for his second set after midnight.  That set had a few more people watching and cheering, but still few seemed to be actual Jamie fans.)  Was it better than seeing him at the Avalon a couple years ago?  No.  But it was free.  And it was fun.  And not for one second did Jamie or his band act as if this wasn’t anything other than a show they should be bringing their A game to.

The videos:

As for Coldplay/Jay Z and guests, well it was a star-studded affair (so I found out later – not good at celeb spotting), and well produced with all the lighting you’d expect at a bigger show.  All the artists seemed loose – old-school-feather-head-dressed Vegas show girls stood at the wings on each side of the stage with trays of fresh bubbly that Jay Z and Kanye took advantage of –  yet still professional, and Jay Z had no problem letting Kanye perform more than a few of his songs, including “Homecoming” with Chris Martin.  I’ll let the videos do the rest, and apologies for the bad camera work but the sound I think is excellent.  Vegas on NYE + open bar + fun songs makes steady camera work difficult.

The videos:

The pictures: