The Cosmopolitan’s Sound Foundations

Fedor Banuchi remembers five years of ascending bands and wild nights

Photo by Erik Kabik

Photo by Erik Kabik

Last month, the Cosmopolitan turned 5 years old. We’ve racked up quite a few good memories there in that relatively short time: seeing up-and-coming bands like Best Coast and Mayer Hawthorne at the now-defunct Book & Stage, Coachella-bound acts like Hozier and Stromae at the Boulevard Pool, and superstar acts the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran at the Chelsea. Five years is more than enough time for the Cosmopolitan’s venues to have become institutions.

Fedor Banuchi, the Cosmopolitan’s vice president of entertainment and nightlife, took a few minutes to reflect on some of the history he’s had a hand in making.

You know, this place changed everything. Walking into a Vegas casino and seeing the likes of Foster the People playing a free show in a lounge … that was unprecedented stuff.

Well, when we opened, what we call “legendary music” was the primary type of stuff being played on the Strip. We went after contemporary music. We were lucky, too, that there were a lot of amazing artists coming up at that time: Ellie Goulding, Grouplove, Foster the People. We had them all at Book & Stage, and five years later, a lot of them are playing arena shows.

In a weird way, I would argue that we’re bringing things back to the way they started. When the Rat Pack played here, obviously musical tastes were different … but Frank Sinatra was the Bruno Mars of his time, right? At some point, Vegas became a place where you would park at the tail end of your career. Five years later, we’re trying to bring it back to what’s contemporary.

How do artists like playing here? Vegas has traditionally been a tough sell for touring bands.

Some artists, especially on the cutting-edge of music, have a preconceived notion of Vegas, because there’s still that Elvis thing out there, and it’s a gaming town. I’m always pleasantly surprised when artists come back to me and they say, “We really weren’t excited about coming here, but we had an amazing time. We loved the crowd and the venue.” It’s surprising because, when a band plays the Boulevard Pool (stage), it’s a pain in the ass for the crew: they have to load in on the west side of the property and push to the east. But when the artist goes out on that stage and sees the Strip all around them … it’s unbelievable.

I’ve seen that happen. St. Vincent was overwhelmed by the view from the Boulevard Pool. The members of The Hives actually jumped into the pool…

And Florence and the Machine. Florence Welch actually stopped the set and said, “Oh, my God, this is so surreal.” Most people don’t know this, but Florence played when we opened. We had Jay Z and Coldplay—another amazing evening—and she actually called us, just wanted to be on that bill. She played a small, stripped-down set, with the harp and everything.

What were some of your other favorite shows here?

Oh, the Strokes. They’d been radio silent for years—had broken up, got back together, played at a couple of festivals here and there. We were lucky enough to get them twice. Zac Brown Band, one of our first forays into country … hearing them cover Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was amazing. The Bruno Mars residency … definitely a highlight. And Kraftwerk! Hosting that show was a labor of love. Every DJ in town who wasn’t working that night was there watching the show, plus members of the Killers.

What are you most excited for in the Cosmo’s sixth year?

Just to keep doing great music. We’ve got an extensive booking schedule ahead of us next year. I’ve seen all the offers that we’ve put out, and I’ve seen all the bookings that are starting to come in. I’m really proud of what we’re putting together.

Oh, and I’m excited for The Cure. That’s my era. I love that stuff.