I’m just now kind of re-gaining the ability to even begin to digest, recall, recount and recap
everything some notable things a few of the big highlights from my:
(1) First trip to Las Vegas; and
(2) First time seeing Prince
First off, we must say that The Hard Rock folks were more than great to us, crafting an extravagant, memorable (in a lifelong sense) and decadent weekend for us at their Hotel and Casino Las Vegas to help document the celebration of the 10th anniversary of REHAB, the hotel’s standout daytime pool club. Anticipation was high leading up and the trip and good folks at the Hard Rock Hotel curated and delivered quite the amazing weekend. Here’s what happened.
6 pm on a Friday night in April is the perfect time to step off the bus and hit the white hot pavement on the Strip for the first time. The daytime wanderers, street performers and flood of people just arriving (with clear eyes and energy) made up a good and completely overwhelming welcome mat to jump to early on.
Talk about sensory overload – The Strip was (and likely is 360+ nights a year) pretty much on fire upon arrival. Visually, the photos/wide-swept panoramas as seen on film and television don’t even begin to do justice to the disorienting, mirage-heavy layout of the buildings, backdrop, scene and futuristic character of the main drag. I
joked 100% posited the truth that it instantly felt like walking through a real-life game of Super Mario Brothers with all the geometric and architectural anomalies that sets Vegas apart from your average skyline.
I stood a
little lot dumbfounded, and with a Clark Griswold-peering-out-of-the-sunroof shit-eating-grin perma-glued to my face, I started meandering. After getting lost in the sea of tourists, strip club promoters, street performers (including a Zac Brown doppelganger playing a cover of Eric Cartman’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “Chocolate Salty Balls”) for about an hour, I finally made it to the nearby (but conveniently off-strip) Hard Rock Hotel & Casino where we’d be spending a very solid chunk of the next 69 hours carousing, meeting new people and experiencing one of the more off-the-wall weekend agendas we’d ever been presented with.
For our purposes, the occasion was two-fold this past weekend:
First and foremost, the Purple One himself was in town for a pair of double headers at The Joint and I have a hard time thinking of an Artist I would have rather seen as my orientation director to the live music scene in Las Vegas.
Second, the internationally revered and well-known REHAB was celebrating its 10 Anniversary on Sunday with a DJ set featuring JUSTICE, an electronic duo we’ve seen headline massively scaled festivals.
Enter into the Hard Rock and immediately impressed by all the incredible concert photography and memorabilia dotting the walls and floors of the hotel (Def Lepp drum kit, check). After checking in/getting room key, I lose a quick $2 (I’m a huge gambler/high roller) on the Granny slots and make my way up to our 18th Floor room of the Paradise Tower with an excellent view of the pool and Strip.
Next, I arrive stag to dinner around 9 pm at the hotel’s vibey gastro-pub Culinary Dropout where the house DJ was spinning a mix on Daft Punk’s still-new earworm “Get Lucky”. This would be one of about 50 times hearing the track over the course of the weekend. Still not old…yet. Justin Ward and our award-winning guest Jackson arrived in time to grab a drink and some pretzel bites before we jawned over to the nightclub.
Around 11 pm, we’re given the velvet rope treatment at the slinky, underground Body English Nightclub with a leather-bound booth overlooking the dance floor, a tall bottle of Belvedere and the looming question of well, how did I get here rolling through my head. We’re not the type of people who go to clubs and order bottle service, but the powers-that-be made sure we were in good hands and we made the most of it. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Vegas, learn how to fist-pump like Pauly D.
Between 11 – 2 am, we did some things, looked at some stuff, danced around the club and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
We woke up
bright-eyed and bushy tailed with the breaking news (at least in our universe) that The Rolling Stones would be playing a surprise $20 gig back in Los Angeles at the 300-capacity club The Echo. Normally the amount of jealousy coursing through my soul for something like that would be quite high but not in this case whatsoever given the rare occasion we were embarking upon. After a quick bite and a bloody mary at the serviceable and abundantly necessary 24-7 in-house diner Mr. Lucky’s, it was time to then head over to check out the pool scene where the DJ was spinning (the best version all weekend) a mellifluously segue-d and flow-ier version of “Get Lucky” to a splashy and emphatic response down below. With a 6 pm reservation and an 8 pm show to catch, our time to bask in the sun was kinda short and since we’re all pretty borderline sickly pale, that was a blessing in disguise.
Our meal-of-the-weekend dinner at 35 Steaks occasion was quickly turned into a pregame for Prince and we were joined by a couple of our new friends Meaghan and Laura for a comical dinner before heading to The Joint. Lobster tail, shrimp, bone marrow, steak – this was the high life for a fleeting moment (as I type this before a likely dinner of leftover spaghetti).
Gim gimlets down the gullet before jaunting to the jawnfest at The Joint. Let’s Go Crazy.
As a result of a general awareness of his live pedigree as the consummate musician/showman, I knew going in that checking expectations at the door was a key pre-requisite to full enjoyment of my first PRINCE show during my first trip to Las Vegas. Expectations leading up were very high. These expectations were obliterated. – READ THE FULL PRINCE REVIEW HERE
Even after an already jam-packed weekend, there’s always something about Sundays in a resort-y world like Vegas that, when played right, can really turn out well. We’d kind of hit a comfort zone with things, made some short-term friends and, after two big full nights in Vegas, you’ve definitely gotta put forth a little more effort to still enjoy yourself and embrace the chaos.
The view on-stage was agreeable to say the least – barely-clad females flanked the opening DJ Destructo as we walked in after noon and it was instantly recognizable that we were about to be a part of something both entirely out of our general element and precisely in our wheelhouse. REHAB is a celebration of Untz and co-eds in a pool in Vegas, not the first time it’s happened and definitely not the last. The old “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” adage seems to apply frequently with the more time-honored Vegas offerings and therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rehab scene still going strong another ten years from now.
The view of the whole pool scene splashing around in enjoyment was every bit as spectacular as seeing Justice spin at a (relatively) small and exclusive event. The French duo were very much participants in the scene as commanders of the ship, allowing fans on-stage at various times during the quick-and-dirty 75-minute set (that was also being filmed for MTV we were told). While Prince carried the weekend, the people-watching appeal of the REHAB scene will stick in the brain folds for a while. Furthermore, the music relics, memorabilia and somewhat mind-blowing photography that lines every inch of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was a great added kicker.
After a tasting menu, sake and Tsingtao-filled dinner at the firemost and brand new Asian Fusion joint FÚ (which means “Luck”) it was finally time for the long overdue night to walk the strip, check out the insane wonderland that is the Bellagio lobby, feel like an eight-year old watching their world-renowned nightly fountain show (and lose my phone (forever) in the process) and mill around some of the lesser known, dive-ier joints around town. After spending three years in New Orleans, I’m quite aware that like the Big Easy + Bourbon Street, there’s much more excitement beyond a night on the Strip, but as a first-time tourist, it was a mind-boggling phenomenon to behold and a great first impression. Besides, I’ll be back, right?
Thanks again to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino staff for giving us the royal treatment. It was, in fact, The Jam.