When “phase one” of the new Palms was officially unveiled with a blowout soirée on May 17, it became clear that art will play a major role in the mood and tone of the renovating resort. There are paintings by Richard Prince in Camden Cocktail Lounge and works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat in the beautifully redesigned Scotch 80 Prime restaurant, formerly the space of N9NE Steakhouse. The most striking piece—and likely to become the most polarizing and buzzed-about installation—is “The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded),” a Damien Hirst creation owned by Station Casinos chiefs Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. A giant tiger shark is divided into three parts suspended in formaldehyde within steel and glass tanks, mounted above the bar at the central casino lounge also called the Unknown. It’s impossible to miss.
There are more thought-provoking pieces upstairs at Apex Social Club, Clique Hospitality’s reimagining of seminal off-Strip nightspot Ghostbar. Artist Dustin Yellin, who mingled with Palms guests and officials at last week’s party, contributed four massive works from his “Psychogeographies” series, sculptural paintings that use multiple layers of glass covered in detailed imagery to create a three-dimensional collage. We’ve never seen anything like this before in a Las Vegas nightclub, and it was surreal to see J. Cole perform outside with these humanoid sculptures and the Vegas Strip as backdrop.
Apex’s first weekend also saw DJ sets from DJ Crooked, DJ Neva and Brett Rubin, but the club gets a proper grand-opening welcome for Memorial Day Weekend with a superstar trio of performers: Nas hosting on Friday, Questlove spinning on Saturday and Blink-182 drummer and new Pearl Theater resident Travis Barker hosting on Sunday. It’s a suitably splashy kickoff for a club that needed no significant physical changes, but the Palms and Clique have layered in fresh details that bring a new energy to the venue. Pulsating LED tracks line the white ceiling that envelopes the room in explosive color changes. Maximum outdoor space is utilized providing panoramic partying. Apex is different enough to be its own thing, but it feels like this is just the beginning.
APEX SOCIAL CLUB GRAND OPENING WEEKEND with Nas, Questlove & Travis Barker, May 25-27. The Palms, 702-944-5980.