Oh—to be under 21 and living in Las Vegas. Casino floors, bars and nightclubs are all off limits (without a fake I.D., of course). And, seriously, how many times can you really enjoy the Adventuredome? Chris Kelley, Marcel Correa and Daniel Jones know the struggle well. The Las Vegas natives grew up entertaining their teenage friends with house parties and parking lot hangouts. Now in their mid-20s, they’re selling out 2,000-plus-capacity venues and booking festival-caliber talent with their 18-and-over event production group, Ravealation. That’s not to say the journey to this point was easy.
After attending Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival in 2011, the guys were inspired to create an immersive, smaller-scale EDM experience for the underage set. But with no formal production experience, they struggled to get started.
“Eighteen-and-over venues wanted to see a track record of hard-ticketed concerts,” says Correa, Ravealation’s co-owner. “We didn’t have [a track record] at that point, so we had to take what we were given.” That meant, against their original intention, approaching 21-and-over venues. Talent buyer and mentor Joe Stasis Borusiewicz helped the guys secure their first show with Kennedy Jones at Aria’s Gold Lounge in March 2013. This led to more 21-and-over Ravealation events at UNLV’s Rebelpalooza and one-offs Downtown. Still, they were less than satisfied with their results.
“The whole 21-and-over thing was frustrating,” says Jones, Ravealation’s marketing director. “They’re spoiled with the Aviciis and Tiëstos,” he says. In other words, the market is saturated with nightclub appearances and management who’ll shell out millions for production. But with a string of soft-ticketed successes, Ravealation finally had something to show 18-and-over venues.
Hard Rock Live hopped on to host the first 18-and-over Ravealation event on December 27, 2013, with “crunkstep” producer Crizzly as the headliner. It was the milestone the crew had hoped to reach since the beginning. Except: “We didn’t have a promotional plan,” Correa says. “We were just going from house party to house party. Hookah lounges. Theaters. We did it all ourselves.” Adds Kelley, Ravealation’s operations officer: “We were strapping backpacks to our backs and running around in the freezing cold, putting fliers on every car we could.” That grassroots marketing style paid off, and the show sold out.
Before the show, Correa says, “We said, ‘Yo, if we sell out, we’re gonna pop a bottle of Champagne. We’re gonna take a bunch of pictures. We’re not gonna sleep for two or three days. We might even head to California and party.’’’ But instead, after the show, “We weren’t talking about anything except how we could do it again the next month.”
And they have. All eight shows since that night have been 18-and-over, and every one has sold out, even after the jump from Hard Rock Live to Brooklyn Bowl for Ravealation’s one-year anniversary with Bro Safari on December 28. [Full disclosure: SpyOnVegas.com, a sister site of Vegas Seven, is a presenting sponsor for Ravealation at Brooklyn Bowl.]
“When I was touring [Brooklyn Bowl], it was hard for me to even imagine how that many people look in there,” Correa says. “I felt [the one-year anniversary] was the most successful of any of our events.” They followed it with another sold-out Brooklyn Bowl show: Bass N’ Trapment with Zomboy on January 30.
Ravealation now works with more than 50 street-team promoters, 20 resident DJs and “probably 100 more people who support us,” Jones says. “They’re just part of the family.”
If all goes according to plan, the Ravealation family will soon be expanding. Kelley, Correa and Jones have plans to fill increased capacity venues in and outside of the Valley. “We checked ZIP codes on the tickets that were purchased for the Crizzly show, and we get a lot of people from Reno. Same with the Bro Safari. That’s what we’ve got our eyes on right now.”
It’s certainly a long way to come from fliering parking lots.
Catch the next Ravealation show, Apocalypto with the Pitcher, Lady Faith and Darksiderz at 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at Hard Rock Live (3771 Las Vegas Blvd. South; Ravealation.com).