Las Vegas Sun

July 15, 2019

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Empire of the Sun throws a mini-chella inside the Chelsea

Empire of the Sun

Erik Kabik

Empire of the Sun performs at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan on April 15.

While Lady Gaga admirably filled in for the pregnant Beyoncé as headliner at the second day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, the Las Vegas Strip had its own version of the fest Saturday night — and it was even a little Gaga-ish.

Australian electronic outfit Empire of the Sun amped up an appreciative crowd at the Chelsea inside the Cosmopolitan, a day after the band played the real Coachella. Festival acts have been taking advantage of their proximity to Vegas and booking Strip gigs for years now, and Empire’s colorful concert was just one such runoff show; Toots & the Maytals played Brooklyn Bowl that same night, and Tove Lo, Phantogram, Kehlani and others play here this week.

The Chelsea may be the right venue for a festival-suited act like Empire of the Sun, which features multiple layers of programmed sound atop live drums and guitars, somewhat psychedelic video imagery on a big screen behind the band and four mysterious costumed dancers augmenting upbeat, anthemic songs like “Walking on a Dream” (made famous in the States by a Honda commercial) and “We Are the People.” Cosmo’s biggest venue has plenty of dance-floor space framed by rows and seats as well as the upstairs gallery, all of which offered an array of ways to experience the concert. The surprisingly diverse crowd appreciated their options.

Overall, the performance was a vast improvement on Empire’s last Vegas show, a noisy outdoor set at the Life Is Beautiful Festival in September. At the Chelsea, when the band strayed from its hits and dipped deeper into its repertoire of spacey, robotic synth-funk, energy also dipped. But then those dancers from another planet would return and the crowd would get crazy and bounce along to the beat. Frontman Luke Steel closed the main set with a legit onstage guitar smash before returning for a thunderous encore performance of “Alive.” It may not have been as big as Coachella, but it was big enough for the Cosmo.

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