Coachella kicking off this weekend, and I'm not upset that I didn't get tickets. I'm fine. I'm fine! Stop asking!), as The Shins will perform at The Cosmopolitan's Boulevard Pool to promote their triumphant (sales and hype-wise, at least) comeback album, Port of Morrow. And tonight, reluctant Grammy winning indie-folk beard-bro Bon Iver will play at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
In my mind (mostly because I'm bored and looking to create dramatic narratives out of nothing), this is just the beginning of a nuclear arms race between the two hotels in which the prize is the hearts, minds, and (most importantly) cash of indie-rock loving hipsters in Las Vegas.
The Cosmo seems to be the resort more aggressively pursuing the indie demographic, with Justice, Cage the Elephant, Young the Giant, and Florence and the Machine (whose show is already sold out, proving that she's gone way beyond indie-popular to just plain popular, but Pitchfork still reviews her, so we'll keep her in the conversation for the sake of this article's premise) all scheduled to play at The Resort this summer. The Cosmo also recently hosted the incoherent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Beauties and Beats Festival (which mixed together up and coming indie bands with swimsuit models for an event that seemed to confuse just about everyone involved), but The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has stayed in the game. While the venue played host to decidedly un-indie events like the short-lived Motley Crue residency, The Hard Rock features indie stalwarts Fitz and the Tantrums and The Drums joining Bon Iver on their calandar of upcoming performers.
It's not a crazy idea. The Vegoose festival was successful enough to run for three years, from 2005- 2007. Indie-fied headliners include Beck, Arcade Fire, Spoon, The Killers, Sleater Kinney, The Mars Volta, The Flaming Lips, Daft Punk, and The Shins (yes, again). The indie bands mingled on the bill with excellent mainstream acts like Iggy and the Stooges (playing the entirety of the amazing Fun House album), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Primus, Ben Folds, Cyprus Hill, Queens of the Stone Age, The Roots, and Public Enemy, not to mention completely un-acceptable mainstream acts like Jack Johnson, Trey Anastasio, The String Cheese Incident, and Dave Matthews & Friends (not to be confused with his other band that also bears his name, which is not to say that that guy has a monstrous ego or anything like that).
Electric Daisy Carnival and the pop-oriented, Lady Gaga headlined I Heart Radio Festival. With big indie acts moving tickets at The Cosmo and The Hard Rock, and more and more hip and artsy tastemakers living and working in Downtown, it seems like the time might be right to either re-launch Vegoose or for some other intrepid organizers to try their luck with the Sin City market (Sin-chella, anyone?). The combination of a Vegas weekend with great music will draw crowds, but what exactly would it take to make it work?
I'm going to put on my imaginary festival organizer wizard hat and imagine what it would take to throw the perfect Vegas indie fest:
Keep it on the DT: Sure, The Electric Daisy Festival filled up the massive Las Vegas Motor Speedway, keeping the Ecstacy-popping dubstup-loving kids away from The Strip during the festival. But while most of the big festivals take place in giant empty spaces (Coachella has Indio's Pollo grounds while Bonaroo has a massive farm), the conceptual Vegas indie fest could shut down a few blocks in Downtown and turn the neighborhood into a giant utopian hipster street fair. With all kinds of cool bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels in the area, DT could be the perfect place to throw the festival. And since so much of the area is currently a post apocalyptic wasteland anyway (Kai Ryssdal couldn't help but point out an abundance of vacant lots all over the hood during his NPR Marketplace interview with Tony Hsieh), there is plenty of room to set up stages in the area.
Kogi and CoolHaus trucks made it out to Vegas for the festival, that fact alone might be worth the trip from LA for many music digging foodies.
Keep the (Craft) Beer Flowing: Beer fests offering tastings of Craft Suds have become events unto themselves (even if the results are sometimes disastrous). If the fest invited a nice group of Brewers and sold tickets for tasty tastings, it could make the event that much tastier. (I'm trying to figure out how to get the word taste in this paragraph one last time.)
Penn and Teller to perform a set, include local artists and bands, invite some strippers and drag queens, and let audiences feel like they are engaging in some generally illicit Sin (even if it's all in the context of a carefully logistically planned music festival).
Keep the Party Goin' All Night Long: The festival can go all night, if need be. This is Vegas, after all. But even if the gates close around midnight, the hippest hotels in Downtown and on The Strip can attract a new, indie-centric clientele with after-parties featuring music spun by some the best DJs in town who will be free to dig into their collections of obscure 60's soul instead of the same old Top 40.
So that means no: DJ Pauly D is not invited to this party. Sorry, Jersey-Bro.