Spin City

The upside of Memorial Day madness in Vegas: great DJs at work

Before I dive into the abyss of superficiality that surrounds the 72 hours of madness known as Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas, allow me to commemorate here the men and women who have given their lives for our country, and commend those who continue to keep our shores secure.

It is important to remember why there’s no work on Monday. Or why the barons of this city’s nightlife import exciting talent. And why Southwest Airlines is booked solid. Though for The Captains of Industry, it simply means our crème loafers are acceptable again, at least until Labor Day.

Tolerance is the tested entity during Memorial Day weekend: Revelers who descend upon this desert oasis test their tolerance for excess, while DJs such as myself have their tolerance tested while dealing with bad drunks who request bad songs. And for every napkin with a song request scrawled upon it, there is a general manager who stands stoic as a patron yells; a bartender who hides his grimace upon receiving a meager tip; and a security guard who dutifully rolls an inebriated partier off property in a wheelchair, a trail of vomit in his unfortunate wake.

There are also amazing upsides to Memorial Day festivities, including noteworthy guest DJ talent. This year is no exception, though I doubt I will be able to attend any of the celebrations that pique my interest, due to my otherwise good fortune of gainful employment. But, if I was a civilian, here are a few places I’d love to visit:

Deadmau5 at Vanity, May 30, and Wet Republic, May 31

Despite the fact that he has public disdain (or misunderstanding) for what today’s nightclub DJs do, the Canadian producer does make great tracks, and the popularity of songs that he has had a hand in (“Move for Me” by Kaskade, for instance) is impressive and growing. He went head-to-head against Jay-Z on opening night at Coachella this year, yet managed popularity equal to Hova—relatively speaking, of course.

Although I personally opted to see the Jigga Man spit “U Don’t Know,” I did hear Deadmau5’s epic “Ghosts N Stuff” cranking from the Sahara Tent as I left early to beat the mass exodus to the parking lot, and was forced to silently acknowledge my remorse.

Pitbull at Mandalay Beach, May 30

The Cuban-American rapper essentially invented his own style of music in south Florida by laying down lyrics over house tracks; now everybody does it. His show is bound to be a high-energy fête, as Pitbull is one of the few Latin rappers who has achieved a wide mass appeal and, while not all of his singles work in Las Vegas, there is a motto uttered among the resident DJs in Miami: When in doubt, play Pitbull—and that advice has saved my derrière more than once while working in South Beach.

The Crystal Method at Blush, May 30

These gents, individually, hail from Las Vegas, although the start of their decade-plus success stems from a relocation to Los Angeles in the 1990s. They have platinum albums and Grammy nods, and have collaborated with some of my fav artists, including Stone Temple Pilots. Their 1997 hit single, “Busy Child,” still gets regular rotation in my sets.

I’d love to see them play at Blush as House Wednesdays becomes We Love House Music Sundays—especially considering the only chance I’ve had to witness the duo was at some party on the Santa Monica Pier in 2001, and my then-girlfriend nagged me enough to leave before seeing them perform.

Zen Freeman at Palms Pool, May 29

When I first met the native Englander, I had no idea about his DJ background; at that time, he was selling men’s clothing upstairs at Ron Herman in L.A., where a different then-girlfriend of mine also worked.

It wasn’t long before he started nabbing every high-profile and celebrity-stacked soiree imaginable. His extensive knowledge of music, dapper presentation and pleasant disposition made him the guy to get for swanky events. In recent months, he has been doing quite a bit of work at the Palms, involved in both Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto, as well as the new Sunday brunch de jour, High Society at Nove Italiano.

He is part of the massive Love Festival lineup (as am I), and this will certainly afford Mr. Freeman the chance to flex his muscles a bit, even if they are sleeved in an Armani blazer.

LMFAO at Surrender, May 30

These guys are self-proclaimed party rockers, yet the claim has manifested in cities across the country; Sky Blu and Redfoo are wild dudes. LMFAO live the life they sing about, and swing from the chandelier all the while.

When StoneRokk and I invited them to a studio to be involved in our 2008 Christmas project (which awaits online, at youtube.com/watch?v=diUNn9KXYrE), they asked instead that we come to them. This rendezvous took place at the infamous Wonderland house, where four people were notorious bludgeoned to death in 1981. There were no working light bulbs in the room, so we had to record their vocals by the dim glow of an open bathroom door, aided by healthy amounts of room temperature Grey Goose. Merry Christmas, indeed.

Obviously, a slew of great DJs and acts will be present this Memorial Day weekend, joining the impressive talent pool that already performs in Las Vegas week in and week out. And the aforementioned are by no means the only events that would summon me like sirens luring nearby sailors; they are just a few that caught my fancy during a brief visit to the pleasure gardens of Xanadu. It was a fantastical trip in which I wouldn’t be required to work all weekend, and would instead be able to enjoy that rarity known as A Day Off—like Memorial Day itself.