Sam Frisch is standing on the ledge of Hakkasan’s DJ booth with a bass, strumming the riff from The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”
The beat gets louder when he’s joined by two drummers, snare and bass, respectively.
Video screens behind Frisch flicker with static before his Cash Cash band mates, brothers Alexander and Jean Paul (J.P.) Makhlouf, join him on the ledge. The drum beat transitions into the group’s 2013 smash “Take Me Home” and J.P. shouts an emphatic “Hello, Las Vegas!” into the microphone.
If there were a crowd here, they’d be screaming their hearts out. But this is a 10:30 a.m. dress rehearsal, a chance to run through the opening number before Cash Cash’s February 17 show at the MGM Grand nightclub.
The trio and its production crew seem pleased with the setup. Frisch has plenty of room to strut the edge of the DJ booth without slipping off, the drummers are in sync and there are no complaints about the video or lights.
That leaves one last thing to practice, a mid-show acoustic number with Frisch on guitar and J.P. on vocals, paying homage to one of the group’s favorite ’90s bands.
“It’s a good switch up,” Frisch explains. “If people are getting a little too much bass to the face, this will get them right when they want to sing along.”
It’s also another break from the traditional DJ mold, but the song selection shall remain a secret. We don’t want to spoil the entire show, right?
Creativity is King
If you’re asking why a DJ trio is opening their show with a live drum and bass performance, the answer is: Why not?
Las Vegas nightlife has (thankfully) evolved in the last 10 years from celebrity guests who just wave to the crowd from their VIP booths to resident DJs putting on electrifying performances. But even that runs the risk of going stale if the formula isn’t tweaked. For Cash Cash, the kickoff to their Hakkasan residency needed something that would grab the crowd’s attention immediately and give everyone something to talk about on their way home.
“In the club we try to play everything, and then we were like, ‘Why don’t we actually play something?’ J.P. says. “We’ve played [instruments] before as a band, but never in a club. … If it goes over well we’ll try different songs and maybe incorporate more live music down the road.”
Those live performances aren’t the only thing poised to separate Cash Cash from their DJ brethren. The residency theme—you may have seen it on billboards—is “Cash is King.” That means when the trio takes the stage, Hakkasan will be decked out in more green than an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day. Giant dollar-bill cutouts will be positioned around the club as makeshift selfie stations, with air cannons firing dollar bill confetti and money guns shooting dollar bills into the crowds.
That’s right: Cash Cash is going to make it rain.
“I think it’s awesome,” J.P. says. “In Vegas, cash is king, it’s as simple as that.”
Feb. 17, 10:30 p.m., $20-$30, Hakkasan inside MGM Grand, hakkasanlv.com