Electronic Dance Music Heats Up Vegas

The stretch of highway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is getting shorter by the day — at least when it comes to club music.

An estimated 185,000 people headed to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Park on the last weekend in June for the Electric Daisy Carnival, an electronic dance festival. Headliners for the event included Swedish House Mafia for their first-ever West Coast gig, Benny Benassi, Laidback Luke, Chuckie, Afrojack, Kaskade and Infected Mushroom. After the EDC, Las Vegas got the spillover, with the same artists headlining and packing in the people at Sin City venues, likely with little or no sleep in between gigs, signaling Vegas is no longer an afterthought for dance music artists, but rather a destination. Instead of staying another day in LA and headlining after-after parties such as Monday Night Social at Hollywood’s Playhouse, at least a dozen major artists headed off to Vegas.

Swedish House Mafia

Photo Credit: Drew Ressler/Rukes.com

A perfect example of someone in need of an energy drink sponsor? Benassi. The Italian DJ/producer headlined EDC on the festival’s second day, and then played the official after-party at the newly redesigned Music Box @ Fonda (the former Henry Fonda Theater) in Hollywood, which is now doing regular electronic music events thanks to lighting and sound renovations. And just hours later, Benassi headlined the Vegas pool party Wet Republic with Laidback Luke, also at EDC the day before.

But where did this penchant for electronic music come from, especially in Vegas? Just a few years ago, commercial hip-hop and top 40 was the norm for Vegas nightclubs, while the most popular artists headed to LA. Electronic music was confined to after hours venues, and fans often woke up at 4 a.m., sunglasses prepped, to see dance music DJs at the club.

Perhaps the most notable shift in Vegas music formatting occurred with the launch of Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto (later Perfecto Vegas) at Rain Nightclub on Aug. 30, 2008. After the realization that electronic dance music could pack a major club, electric dance music headliners spread slowly and gained momentum, culminating into what has become a bidding war for top talent and regular day-into-night, weekend-long mini festivals on major holiday weekends. The headliners now earn top dollar: Rumor has it Tiësto garnered $100,000 for his New Year’s Eve gig at Haze Nightclub inside Aria Resort & Casino, and David Guetta likely receives a similar paycheck for his Vegas appearances.

Vegas club owners are tapping the trend big time. Semi-regular or weekly residencies are springing up left and right for EDM artists in 2010. There are regular appearances at Wet Republic by Robbie Rivera, ATB is taking over for Oakenfold the entire month of August, and Steve Aoki and Kaskade hold weekly residencies at Surrender and Encore Beach Club, respectively. Other familiar faces spinning in Vegas every few months include Roger Sanchez, Sharam, Bart B. More and Morgan Page.

For those clubs looking to cater to partiers still seeking the songs played continuously on the radio, there are many Vegas venues that cater to those crowds. However, those same crowds appear to be more receptive to house remixes thrown in to the popular music mix, and major headliners such as these electronic dance music superstars are winning them over. New popular Vegas party places such as Vanity, Haze, and Encore Beach Club aren’t too shabby either.

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