Ask anyone in the nightlife industry: Dance music in Vegas is all about catering to the tourists. That means a lot of Top 40 and a little of everything else. So, I was initially concerned that Love Festival at Palms could be hit or miss since Saturday and Sunday’s lineup consisted of DJs and producers NOT known for typically tourist-friendly tunes. But screw the masses, I was thrilled to finally get a healthy dose of real electronic dance music without having to leave the state. Love Festival and the Palms, I salute you.
However, my concerns crept back when I walked into Rain on Saturday night. It was around 11 p.m., Danny Love was behind the decks and the club wasn’t even half-full. Though the official Love Festival was Sunday, Perfecto was essentially the kick off for dance music worshippers. Sure, 11 p.m. in Vegas is like 8 p.m. in a last call at 2 a.m. city, but where was everyone? Thankfully, the night did a complete 180 when Doman & Pettigrew took control of the dance floor and a wave of partiers flooded Rain.
Even Paul Oakenfold himself decided to forgo his usual set for a more trance-y underground track list, much to the delight of locals who attend every Saturday. Above the stage, someone with disposable income “made it rain,” and a shower of one dollar bills—real ones, too, not the Monopoly money variety thrown around during DJ AM’s set the night before – fell from the sky.
Closing out the night and making jaws drop was British DJ Eddie Halliwell. (Our photographer, Richard Brian, noticed Oakie collecting some of the fallen cash and then joking with Halliwell the pile of ones was going to be his pay for the night.) Focused more on his DJ skills than producing, Halliwell’s hands were a blur between the two mixers, three CDJs and vinyl for scratching.
Plus, Halliwell has more energy than a toddler that just consumed an entire bag of Pixy Stix. His liveliness spilled across the stage into the audience, and at 5 a.m. when the night should have drawn to a close, partiers demanded an encore from Halliwell, who happily obliged.
Catching a disco nap, I was back at the Palms Pool & Bungalows at a disgustingly early 12:30 p.m., for the Love Festival pool party, which began around 10 a.m. Giant fluorescent flowers adorned the DJ booth, and floral umbrellas and neon magic mushrooms added to the décor. The sheer number of potentially sunburned people was astounding; even during the mid-afternoon, it was almost impossible to maneuver around the masses jumping and splashing in unison. Free Otter Pops made up for any inconvenience in trying to get from point A to point B.
Recently named Vegas’ Best Resident DJ by the Weekly, Keith Evan kicked off the day, followed by our Best Rising Star DJ winner Jordan Stevens, whose set at the pool charged the crowd until 2, when Steve Aoki tore it up in Mickey Mouse gear. Veteran Swedish Egil was next on the decks and kept the party going at such incredible levels it was disappointing when Mark Farina took over around 5 p.m. and the vibe royally tanked. Cue my exit: I needed to wash off the SPF 70 and take disco nap number two.
Love Festival Sunday took the typical Vegas club crowd and turned it upside down —but that’s not a bad thing. There was a dude wearing a furry white floor length coat that glowed with tiny lights, adorable ravers adorned in kandi beads from wrists to elbows and some of the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen. Of course, there were the staple guys in striped shirts and girls cringing at their choice of stilettos, but everyone had one thing in common: They were all loving the music. Take that, commercial cheese.
Inside, Rain was home to gargantuan neon props aplenty (some of which were appropriately recycled from the Utopia reunion in February—hey, you wouldn’t want to let a giant mushroom go to waste). Scotty Boy kicked off the party inside and Mark Lewis commanded the crowd’s attention outside with the most perfect weather any attendee could have asked for. Except for the guy who must have been overheated and jumped in the pool and was subsequently escorted out. Apparently no night swimming here, though that would have been fun.
I missed most of DJ Reza’s set inside, thanks to one of his power-tripping henchmen who said our media passes were worthless and our photographer and videographer weren’t allowed on stage at Paul van Dyk’s request. Oh really? We conveniently found PVD outside enjoying Carl Cox’s set and got permission from the man himself to bring you behind the scenes coverage. Take that, Mr. Meanie.
Speaking of Paul van Dyk, our videographer, Voja Radosavljevic, was spot on in deciding PVD isn’t from this planet. I’ve seen him live twice, but never had a full appreciation of the complexity of what he’s doing on stage. Van Dyk seamlessly moved between—wait for me to geek out on technology—two MacBooks (one running Ableton and the other MainStage), two midi controller keyboards, a custom designed mixer for midi mapping and controlling and other assorted equipment. The German DJ created loops on the spot then mixed them in, almost as if composing an entire production from scratch right in front of my eyes. Count me impressed.
Though one might have expected attendance to dwindle when van Dyk was finished, Robbie Rivera held the crowd until exhaustion from the weekend got the best of me and I dragged my tired ass out of Rain around 6 a.m.
Sad you missed Love Festival this year? Well, you’re in luck, because the Palms and N9NE Group is bringing it back next Memorial Weekend. Whoo-hoo! Plenty of time to catch up on sleep.