- Fremont Country Club
Carousel stallions, antler chandeliers and serious cowhide per square foot. The hammered gleam of giant glowing horseshoes and the kitschy specter of a covered wagon melting through one wall. Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses performing their hearts out for a crowd that includes the real Verne Troyer and the fake Robert De Niro. This is Vegas’ first peek at Fremont Country Club, and it’s an eyeful.
Mayor Goodman helped cut the blue ribbon on the red carpet outside, and the good people of the city are christening the inside with stiff drinks and the pounding of their feet to the band’s aerobic treatments of “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “Just a Gigolo.” It’s hard to say what’s more impressive—the high kicks of keyboard player Gregg Fox, convulsive horn solos on the stage floor, or featured singer Sarah Spiegel having not one hair out of place after dancing through a wild set (not to mention a conga line). The venue is full of life after almost three years of anticipation.
In May 2010, the city leased the long-vacant 601 Fremont space to the partnership of Terry Caudill, who owns Binion’s and the Four Queens, and husband-and-wife team “Big Daddy” Carlos Adley and Ava Berman Adley, who have pioneered nightlife concepts in Hollywood, LA and Chicago. They launched Backstage Bar & Billiards this past winter, and the opening of F.C.C. completes Phase 1 of a master plan that also includes recording and production studios, a radio station, record label and rooftop lounge.
“We’re just adding to it—one more facet of what you can get when you come Downtown now. I’m all about being sensitive to my neighbors and doing something that works in conjunction with them so we can all come together and share in this ride that’s gonna happen,” Carlos says. “Because in the next two years, Downtown Vegas—you mark me—will be the greatest city in the world. That’s a fact.”
F.C.C. will do its part not only as a venue for live music that can accommodate nearly 1,000 fans, but also as a showroom for comedy, avant-garde theater and runway fashion. Special events and private showcases will fine-tune the club over the next couple of months, but once it’s in full swing Carlos says it will average two or three shows a week, and crowds will be encouraged to head “backstage” to Backstage Bar & Billiards for a chance to mingle with the artists. With an exclusive sound system engineered by Solotech—the company used by Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion—and bookings in the hands of F.C.C. co-owner and lead promoter Michael Chugg—who has worked with big names from Elton John to Pearl Jam—Carlos says F.C.C. will give Downtown’s music scene an edge that honors Vegas’ entertainment roots.
“The caliber of acts will not only rival the Strip but will surpass it in the sense of that intimate experience that’s been so lost on the mega-resorts of today,” he says. “We’re just all about bringing Vegas back to Vegas.”