Your Valley to Vegas: Spring Concert Series that ended in April featured quite a diverse lineup, with the likes of Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Haim and Empire of the Sun playing two venues—the Chelsea and Boulevard Pool. Did you land these acts because of our proximity to Coachella, or was it all because of the Cosmopolitan’s booking prowess?
A little bit of both, actually. We booked Lana Del Rey and Lorde nine months prior—Lorde before she was booked for Coachella. We picked some bands based on their Coachella proximity, while others—like Young the Giant—didn’t play the festival. We’re not really competing with Coachella, but they certainly present us with an opportunity to book a great band on this side of the country.
Except for minor competition such as Beauty Bar and Vinyl, your property seems to have cornered the local market on live cutting-edge indie rock. Did you secure a genre niche intentionally, or do your booking people simply select their favorite bands?
It’s a combination. When we were first contemplating a strategy, we wanted to offer cutting-edge music, and C3 Presents [an Austin, Texas-based concert-promotion agency] is at the industry forefront. But certainly a lot of the stuff we saw booked here in Las Vegas was legacy stuff. So it was tactical, yet there’s an art involved. In the end, you sit back with a bunch of people and decide what’s great music, what our guests want and if it can work.
Does the emphasis on indie bands gel with the hotel’s overall demo?
We’re a luxury property that’s also cutting edge, and we consider our demo the “curious class.” But as times change so will we. We book bands with an indie spirit. We book a lot of older and established artists that were and remain progressive—like, for example, Kraftwerk. Indie is more of a mindset.
How did you get into the live-music business, and what were your formative concert or club experiences?
I threw raves in college in the ’90s and used to manage clubs in Boston. I worked the No. 1 concert venue in Boston—everyone came there, from Billy Idol to Audioslave. From 8 to 10:30 p.m., the bands performed, and from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., DJs like Tiësto and Carl Cox would take the stage. It was great to work in a venue that supported both of those approaches.
How did you go about selecting an artist like Jennifer Keith Quintet, who perform vintage Americana pop, for the Chandelier Bar on July 3-6?
Just look at the venue as a whole: It screams for that look and sound. In the beginning, we went through trial and error with the Chandelier. We wanted to go with something that felt more authentic. You can call it vintage or retro if you want, but it’s not an act [with members of] Jennifer Keith Quintet. They wear those outfits offstage, too.
You balance oversight of live rock music with EDM-fueled nightlife host sales. Aren’t they two different worlds in your mind?
They are two different worlds, but they’re merging. You can hear [the merging] in artists today like Capital Cities and Empire of the Sun. It’s always been that way, with bands playing keyboards and electronic instruments. So, yes, our host team sells bottle service, and we have a daytime pool program that provides the most compelling areas to view the Strip. But I also think we provide a party atmosphere that’s not over the top. The clubs are here if you want them, and we have the best live-music venues, too.
So you’re not pessimistic about live rock music in an increasingly EDM world?
No, I’m not. My background is in nightclubs, and I do very little of it now, and 90 percent of what I do pertains to live music. Live music is bigger than ever.
The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool hosts the “Set Your Life to Music” concert series on Thursday nights. Upcoming shows include: Neon Trees (June 5), Night Riots (June 12), Dash Berlin (June 19), Bleachers (June 26), Big Data (July 10), Jurassic 5 (July 17), Mac Miller (July 24), Rebelution (Aug. 14) and Interpol (Aug. 21). For additional concert information, visit CosmopolitanLasVegas.com.