Music: Summer Music Series
It’s Saturday morning, a quarter to 6:00 am pacific standard time in Las Vegas, Nevada. The rising sun peeks through the valley of tan-stoned mountains which surround the city. A calm gleam of light cascades within the panoramic windows wrapped around a hotel suite on the sixty-first floor. This is where we are currently located. I’m facing the kitchen, positioned behind an oak wood dining table that can probably seat twenty people on each side comfortably. I stand here, comfortably in shock of what I am witnessing happen right in front of me; Alesso, a world renowned DJ by way of Sweden is pouring shots of vodka straight from the handle into one of my best friend’s mouth. To my right, across the living room right in front of a spiral staircase, underneath a large crystal chandelier; Diplo is DJing to a room of about fifty people. Mostly girls dancing on couches. Behind Diplo are two large body guards dressed in all black sitting down near a grand piano aside the staircase. Newly drafted Cleveland Browns quarterback pick Johnny Manziel walks out from one of the bedrooms and heads toward the kitchen. This is where we’ll need to take a step back.
Inside my apartment, southwest of the Las Vegas strip; I’m collecting mason jars of nearly finished pale ales after a Memorial Day cookout my roommate and I hosted for some friends. It’s nearing 6:00 pm pacific standard time. Nearing the time to freshen up and get the smell of charcoal out of my hair. Tonight we are guests for Bruno Mars residency show inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Las Vegas, New York City, and maybe Chicago are probably the last places you can still wear a suit to a concert and not get a funny look. For tonight, I’m wearing a custom slim-fit Perry Ellis suit which is solid black, but can’t seem to decide which OLE MASON JAR shirt to go with. I don’t want to look like I’m going on a job interview, or worse, look like I’m somebody’s driver in this city.
I break a couple of “rules” and go with the Patriot Plaid. After all it is Memorial Day weekend. This looks great under a suit. I’m actually surprised. The suit has a very simple look, but underneath, the Italian 2-ply cotton plaid made an interesting combination of colors that I paired with a solid black tie and black suspenders. I can’t forget to add a solid white pocket square, thanks grandpa, and we’re out the door.
If there’s one thing you must do when you visit Las Vegas is to roam the eclectic halls of The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino. Marble and chandeliers sparkle in every corner of your eye once the elevator doors open up. People dress like its New Year’s Eve. And the energy is familiar to game seven every night.
Bruno Mars takes the stage inside The Chelsea at 9:37 pm. He along with his production team, “The Smeezingtons” play a collection of hits including “Runaway Baby”, “Treasure”, and “Locked Out of Heaven”. Not only did Bruno give fans his music; he also played a collection of his favorite covers from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” into The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army” into Ace Hood’s “Bugatti”. The Honolulu native can put a Motown touch to anything.
After the show is over we gather at a bar inside Blue Ribbon Sushi on the fourth floor. This restaurant has been nicknamed “The Clubhouse” for the frequency of after-show night caps this venue has hosted throughout the years. I have two Moscow Mules myself while my roommate enjoys an order of their world famous chicken wings coupled with honey wasabi sauce. We talk for a couple of hours about the industry both professionally and personally on top of drinks. I can really feel a buzz coming on now.
A text comes in from a group of friends who are at LIGHT nightclub inside Mandalay Bay. Our friend Lo is in town from LA and is working with the Swedish DJ/Producer Alesso who is performing a late DJ set at LIGHT. A few weeks ago I sat down with Lo inside Brooklyn Bowl and discussed her involvement with working on the Swedish House Mafia documentary, “Leave The World Behind”. This documentary details the final tour of the band of DJs; Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello, that most likely separated due to artistic and personal differences from what I could tell from watching the film. Alesso made his mark in 2011 with original productions and remixes per Swedish House Mafia among others. Now at 22 years old, he is actually considered among the veterans of electronic dance music.
We arrive at LIGHT near 1:30 am. It’s chaotic. Trying to get in on a holiday weekend is tricky, but after a few text messages, we make our way to the DJ booth. Alesso is in the zone. He probably doesn’t even notice that at one point I’m sitting on top of a couch on the edge of the stage ten feet away from him. He plays a diverse set of hits including remixes of OneRepublic’s “If I Lose Myself”, Calvin Harris’s “Under Control”, and Sebastian Ingrosso’s “Calling (Lose My Mind)”. After his set is finished he turns to Lo and the first thing he says is, “I have to use the restroom.”
At this point I think the night is over. I’m not really paying attention to what is going on but I know we are walking toward the Four Seasons and the only reason why I think we are coming here is that the cab line might be shorter. But the next thing I know, we get in an elevator that has buttons for two floors; “C” for Casino and “61”.
As soon as the elevator doors open up you can hear music blaring from down the hall. It’s coming from Alesso’s hotel suite. It’s near 4:00 am. Alesso’s road crew has taken over the sound system inside the living room. It’s like a scene out of a movie. I think Alesso’s mix of Nadia Ali’s “Pressure” is playing. My friend turns to me and says, “We’re going to see the sun come up at this party.” Then he pauses for a second, staring out into the distance and says, “Diplo just walked in.”
I wrote about Diplo last summer when asked ‘Who is your favorite artist right now?’ I believe my exact words when describing Diplo were, “If Buzz would have been left ‘Home Alone’ instead of Kevin, a party equivalent to a Diplo show would have taken place.” Tonight might as well been called, ‘Home Alone: Lost in Las Vegas’. Diplo wastes no time heading over to Alesso’s road crew to ask if he can take over. Head nods and handshakes are exchanged. Diplo hooks his phone or something into their Serato. He throws a set of head phones on, and just like that, Diplo is our DJ for the evening.
Diplo’s set is unreal. I feel like he’s trying out new stuff. The only downside right now, is that my drink is just rocks right now. I walk into the kitchen to grab another. The hotel staff has provided an endless supply of Grey Goose and Fiji Water. Not to mention a spread of finger food along a large oak wood dining table. The food however looks like it’s been there since before Alesso’s set earlier. As I’m standing outside the kitchen wondering if someone is going to question who I know here, Alesso walks by me and taps me on the chest to give me a thumbs up. I think he liked my shirt.
Arriving back to watch Diplo in the living room, I didn’t notice him at first. I just notice someone standing in front of me with a black t-shirt, long black gym shorts, and high black socks with no shoes. It’s 21 year old former Texas A&M, current Cleveland Browns quarterback, Johnny Manziel. He’s a standup guy. He mingles with people throughout the suite and takes some pictures. Very few however. The press is on his every move except for this one. In this suite, the only thing he has to worry about is Alesso and my friend’s peer pressure of having a drink.
What a night.
8:30 am Saturday morning comes around and we decide to leave the party. My friend and I walk back to the Cosmopolitan still with our suits on. A group of girls pass us in front of the Shoppes at Crystals on Las Vegas Boulvard. “Good Morning!” says one of the girls. My friend laughs and replies back, “Good Night.”
Until next time,
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What we’re listening to:
Taj Simpson is OLE MASON JAR's music correspondent who lives in Las Vegas, NV. Always dressed for the right occasion, Taj also has a keen ear for the right sound...keeping us at the forefront of the music scene, and in tune with the freshest tracks and artists you may / or may not have heard of.