On the surface, the Lounge at the Palms has all the makings of a traditional casino lounge: It’s dimly lit, with velvet stage curtains and cafè-style seating. But tonight, comparisons end there. The venue is full for a Tuesday, with locals filling the seats and Vegas alt-rock band Elephant Doorstep onstage.
Lounge has been a four-letter word in the music community for years—a place where stale cover bands perform the same routine nightly and twice on weekends. But lately, Las Vegas casinos (here’s looking at you, Cosmo) have seen quality, mid-level acts that would normally bypass the city altogether playing their ballrooms and lounges.
A year ago, a scene like last Tuesday’s would have seemed out-of-place inside the Palms Lounge, where British crooner Matt Goss used to hold court every weekend, flanked by writhing, barely dressed dancers known as The Dirty Virgins. These days, it’s more songwriters and less sizzle.
In the nine months since Michael Goodwin took over as Entertainment Director at the Palms he’s taken strides to reinvent the concept of a traditional lounge and create a new program for live entertainment. His changes have transformed the Lounge into a venue intimately suited for both local and national acts.
“We shifted our booking style to more of a variety of acts without permanent headliners,” Goodwin says. “Plus [we strive for] a daily variety in the types of acts we book, mixing live music, electronic and stand-up comedy.” After finding success with mini-residencies, such as the recent six-week run of Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block, the Lounge has made an effort to include local groups as well. “I’m impressed by the local talent pool and the jobs they do to get their fans out to support them. I give credit to the Downtown scene for spawning that talent,” Goodwin says. Halloween Town, Dusty Sunshine and Home Cookin’ are just a few of the Vegas bands who’ve played the Lounge thus far, with Red Eye Radio up next on July 29. NoCal alt-rockers Dredg play the venue one night later.