Pastel Project Night 2 drew a considerably larger crowd than Night 1, and those extra bodies brought something far more important to the Royal House: energy.
Where Friday felt massively miscalculated, Saturday ended encouragingly, providing hope for organizers and their dreams of growing their new music festival far bigger. A crowd of several hundred showed up Saturday to see the sorts of indie bands Las Vegans typically only catch at Coachella, and whether they paid or got in free (by night’s end, the entry gates had been opened wide), they helped create a party atmosphere missing on Friday.
The night actually began disappointingly, with word that noisy LA band HEALTH had pulled out. Pastel co-organizer Ryan Pardey, whose Halloween Town had been scheduled for the VIP afterparty, instead played a solo set on the big stage, casually informing the (then-still-small) crowd that it might be witnessing his final performance under the Halloween Town name.
And then it happened. French DJ Yuksek, surely one of the lesser-known names locally among the outdoor acts, took the stage as part of a three-piece band and lit a spark. The audience swelled, dancing ensued and the hipster equivalent of a conga line began snaking across the pavement. By the time the group played catchy electronic-pop tune “On a Train,” the scene looked like it had been plucked from one of Electric Daisy Carnival’s side stages.
Autolux took the main stage next, and though the LA trio’s moody rock tunes could scarcely have been more different from Yuksek’s fare, they didn’t kill the vibe. If anything, the fact that the same crowd could appreciate dark, distortion-soaked guitar-rock moments after bouncing to synthy electro demonstrated that a diverse, single-site music fest might actually make sense for Las Vegas.
Portland’s STRFKR, featuring former Las Vegan Keil Corcoran on drums and vocals, brought more motion to the Royal’s backyard expanse, as fans packed tightly near the stage while the four-piece presented one irresistible electro tune after another. And then headliners CSS pushed the energy meter to its limit, as singer Lovefoxxx and her Brazilian gang of five made sweaty, electro-clashy love to fans old and suddenly converted.
If Pastel does come back bigger and badder in the fall, CSS probably won’t be name enough to headline. But it’s a pretty safe bet almost everyone at the Royal House Saturday night would want them back on the bill.