Friday, June 17, 2016 | 10 p.m.
The Kats Report Bureau has taken on an infirmary atmosphere, as an unexpected illness (the best kind, really) has knocked us off schedule.
Preferring a showroom to treatment room, we nonetheless make note of the noteworthy and hope for a swift recovery.
It’s rally time:
• The vision of the original architects of Las Vegas Motor Speedway is certainly a prominent reason for the success of the Electric Daisy Carnival. But this is maybe a coincidental vision, as LVMS was not built expressly for multiday music festivals.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, LVMS was built as a mecca of motorsports. The construction of the facility was initially backed by the ample resources of the late Ralph Engelstad, who owned Imperial Palace at the time, and then-Sahara owner Bill Bennett. Its design was executed by antique-car collector and longtime racing figure Richie Clyne, who operated the classic-car collection at I.P.
The first event at the speedway was September 1996, just about 20 years ago, an Indy Racing League event won by Richie Hearn. The speedway was a multitrack facility, great for drag racing, asphalt-oval competition at its Bullring and a clay oval track favored by sprint cars. The only discussion of hosting music, or any flavor of entertainment, on that property was as support events for such large-scale events as Nextel Cup weekends.
Now? As I wrote in a column from the 2012 Electric Daisy Carnival, the festival “is a multileveled entertainment experience, where Pure nightclub crashes with the Western Idaho State Fair on Halloween night.” Sub Omnia, Hakkasan or XS for Pure, and that assessment is still true.
But as EDC itself celebrates 20 years of operations (hosted in L.A. before moving to Las Vegas in 2011) and five at LVMS, credit has to go to those original festival trailblazers. Though they didn't have any idea of the use of the LVMS acreage, and its capacity of hosting a festival that would exceed 400,000 in a single weekend, Engelstad, Bennett and Clyne helped pave the way — for real — for grand festivals in Las Vegas.
• Tiesto, the superstar DJ headlining EDC and Hakkasan this weekend, continues to move EDM into the mainstream with his new show at Fremont Street Experience’s Viva Vision canopy. “Tiesto — A Town Called Paradise” premiered Thursday night, with Tiesto himself showing up in downtown Las Vegas to usher in the show’s three-song medley: “Secrets,” “Red Lights” and “Wasted.” The show is now in rotation with such Viva Vision spectacles from The Who, Heart, Bon Jovi and Imagine Dragons.
Tiesto is not only the first EDM star to be featured on the canopy, he’s also the first to be featured on the canopy and Bellagio Fountains. He was allowed into that waterpark in September 2014, also with “A Town Called Paradise.” He remains in play with Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood,” The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas,” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and the Sarah Brightman-Andrea Bocelli duet “Con Te Partiro (“Time to Say Goodbye”).”
The recruitment and inclusion of an EDM DJ has rankled many artists in Las Vegas, particularly those who are classically trained and view EDM as a simplistic method of creating music. No less entertainment figure than Seth MacFarlane derided EDM during his orchestra production at Encore Theater in May, introducing “Old Man River” with this: “This is an arrangement from Nelson Riddle, coming from a time when music was more than two Swedish guys (messing) around on a laptop.”
Tiesto effectively counters such sentiment.
“It is not true to say this is not creating art or making music,” he said just before the launch of “A Town Called Paradise” at Bellagio in 2014. “You have kids who start out at 5 to 10 years old, their instrument is different, but they are learning to make music.
“It might not be playing Mozart on the piano, but it is creating a form of music, and it is now part of our culture worldwide. People are understanding it better than they once did, and people are taking it seriously now.”
He’s right. Seriously.
• After a scheduling hiccup reportedly caused by myriad small issues, “Baz: Star Crossed Love” has set a July 9 premiere date at Palazzo Theater. The sudden moving of the original June 25 date was initially unexplained, leading to all kinds of speculation around the scene that the show might be in some legal peril. No, rather, as For the Record Executive Producer Shane Scheel says the reason is a collection of “re’s.” Remodeling, reinventing, recasting and rebranding, all of which takes ample time and energy.
What we do know about the show that we have yet to impart is that its creative lineup has been further bolstered by Pat Caddick, added as a music consultant (Caddick worked for years for Danny Gans and also is MD of “Vegas! The Show” at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood) and vocal coach Jessica Marciel.
Marciel has long been a favorite in Las Vegas, performing many gigs in many a-room over the years; “Jessica and Fantasy” was a featured act at the Sands, the Desert Inn, Frontier and Landmark — all in the Summa Hotel Group — decades ago. Jessica also is the daughter of one of the all-time great Las Vegas musicians and personalities, percussionist Irv Kluger.
• Another show that has been the focus of some unhealthy, and unverified, speculation is Frankie Moreno’s “Under the Influence” at Planet Hollywood. Moreno’s show has been drawn down from five nights a week to two, and the sluggish update to his schedule on ticket-selling websites has led to the feeling that his show might actually be closing — or has already closed.
Not so. A Base Entertainment spokeswoman confirms Moreno’s return June 24, with tickets on sale in a five-show-per-week schedule through the end of the year. Key to the show’s viability is a strong showing at the box office — where it has struggled — and an investor to help shore up its expenses. The production itself is terrific; Moreno has always delivered, artistically, wherever he’s performed. The current challenge, today, is to pay for all the advanced gadgetry and staging afforded “Under the Influence.”
• Tucked into the series of shows at Grandview Lounge being devised by South Point Entertainment Director Michael Libonati are two entertainers who rose to fame on “America’s Got Talent.” The first is last season’s runner-up, the “stuttering comic” Drew Lynch, on Aug. 7. On Aug. 25 it’s Season 5 “AGT” champ Michael Grimm. Chris Phillips in “Vegas … Straight Up” or “Exposed,” depending on whom you ask, returns to the stage July 9 and again July 23.
Elsewhere, it’s Aniyah Simone on July 7; Travis Cloer and Chris Lash in “With a Twist” on July 25; The Bronx Wanderers on June 26, 27 and July 31; singing impressionist Tony Pace on Aug. 14; and magician Seth Grabel on Aug. 28. Tickets are $15 to $25, and the room has recently undergone an $80,000 renovation. Grandview is potentially a very cool, regular hang for fans of live entertainment.
• David Perrico is great at making music. He’s fairly adept at making instruments, too.
Perrico has been busy the last three years partnering with Phaeton Trumpets in designing the Phaeton 3 Las Vegas trumpet. As Perrico explains, the horn “has unique bore conical large bore design, bracing and material, resulting in superb response, tone, projection, slotting, intonation, power, volume and range.” The same also has been said of The Johnny …
Anyway, the horn is designed for versatility and durability, the type enforced by Las Vegas musicians who play multiple styles and venues. Perrico will play a prototype model of the horn at 1 p.m. Saturday at Family Music Centers Theater, 8125 W. Sahara Ave. The performance is free and open to the public; the horn itself should hit the market this fall.
Elsewhere, Perrico’s Pop Strings band is back at Lounge at the Palms on June 25, July 9 and July 23; and a combo of Pop Strings & Pop Evolution plays Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center at 8 p.m. July 8. Tickets are $20 and $40. And to answer the question, “How many musicians are in the Pop Strings/Pop Evo performance?” Thirty-three, which I believe is a venue record.