LL Cool J August 31 at Palms Pool
Say what you want about LL Cool J, but don’t make fun of that nickname.
If anything was apparent Saturday afternoon, when the rapper-turned-actor took the mic at the Palms Pool, it was that ladies definitely still love Cool James.
Even with the day’s gloomy skies predicting an impending downpour, the females turned out in droves to watch the NCIS: Los Angeles star spit his rhymes poolside. Their male counterparts were there, too, because Labor Day unofficially signals the end of summer—and thus pool season. Nothing was going to obstruct this party.
Well, save for lightning. But the only thing electric at the Palms Pool on Saturday were the beats being dropped by Z-Trip. The mashup pioneer joined LL Cool J onstage to warm the crowd up with nostalgic jams—though he left the rest of the party soundtrack to Palms’ resident DJs.
The brief performance included the rapper’s iconic ’80s material, like “Rock the Bells,” but it felt more like 1996 with “Doin It” and his dated shout-outs (“Say yeah!,” “Now scream!”).
Nonetheless, the crowd was feeling it. A mass of writhing, fist-pumping dayclubbers stretched from the stage past the pool’s centrally located bar, many of them singing along, others choosing to catcall the star. “Take your shirt off!” they demanded. But LL didn’t oblige. –MA
Skrillex August 31 at Light Nightclub
This isn’t the occasion to read about how Cirque du Soleil acrobats and dancers physically interpret the bowel-twisting music of Skrillex. That’s because there weren’t any present during the producer/DJ’s debut at Light, the nightclub partnering with the Strip’s predominant performance troupe.
Which might have been just as well. Anyone fixated on peripheral distractions may not have dodged the variety of limbs flailing about in the crowded viper’s nest that was the dancefloor. Skrillex’s general-admission audience was as unrelenting as the bespectacled DJ’s never-dull, genre-hopping two-hour set, the surprises of which included: frequent non-trap nods to hip-hop (including Destructo’s “Higher,” which samples Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines,” and random pandering drops of Missy Elliott and Fatman Scoop), his Bollywood re-rub of his “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” hit, and a welcome stretch of drum ’n’ bass tracks.
In general, the DJ kept the high-energy dubstep for which he is most known to a minimum, though one unidentified new song did suggest Skrillex hasn’t forgotten his roots or been completely co-opted by the EDM machine. That said, judging by the loud responses he got during his remixes of Zedd’s “Clarity” and Benny Benassi’s “Cinema,” he clearly knows which side of his bread is buttered. –MP
Moby September 1 at Hakkasan
The first sign that Moby’s debut DJ set in Las Vegas would be different from the usual megaclub affair came in the form of his Black Flag T-shirt. Pretty sure that’s a first for any big-business DJ booth in the tourist corridor, let alone Hakkasan.
Moby would defy the rules and traditions of Strip big-room culture throughout most of his two-hour set. Though the bald electronic music pioneer included nuggets from Danny Avila, Knife Party and Ferry Corsten—a resident DJ roll call that doesn’t overlap with Hakkasan’s roster, interestingly—he opted to keep his set mostly underground and (gasp!) free from his own productions. He also thought nothing of playing long stretches of non-vocal, techno-flavored (and sometimes breakbeat-infused) house, and somehow the dancefloor didn’t clear out at the lack of a recognizable voice or singalong chorus.
When he did venture into more pop-friendly territory, he did so with a rambunctious track like Fatboy Slim’s “Ya Mama.” At the end, he teased the vocal sample from his 1999 hit, “Natural Blues,” but only to introduce his own chestnut, “Thousand.” Most of the crowd didn’t know what to do with a song that clocks in at 1,000 BPM, but Moby did: He climbed atop the DJ console and thrust his arms in the air, as if declaring victory. But the win was all ours—and Hakkasan’s. Let’s hope the new nightspot makes more programming leaps in the near future. –MP