Why throw a party when you can book a mini music festival with a better lineup than the VMAs?
That seemed to be the mission at hand for the Palms Resort and Casino when they opened the doors of KAOS, their new day-and-nightclub, and invited their star-studded residency roster — including Cardi B, G-Eazy, Marshmello and J Balvin — to provide the soundtrack for the festivities.
From April 4-7, the latest nightlife destination to join Las Vegas’ packed (and competitive) landscape cut its proverbial ribbon and flaunted the results of the hotel’s $690 million renovation. To say that you can see and hear every dollar spent on KAOS would be an understatement, and that starts with the building itself. The Palms is located a mile off the Las Vegas Strip, but a giant LED billboard running up the side of the hotel’s tower flashed the faces of Marshmello, Cardi B, Skrillex, Travis Scott and the rest of its opening-weekend lineup so prominently, the club commanded as much attention as the familiar marquees and penthouses of Vegas’ skyline.
From the moment guests walk under a neon Disappear Here sign and through a mirrored tunnel that deposits you on the outskirts of the dance floor, the aesthetics at KAOS are taken as seriously as the technological investments that enhance the audio-visual experience. This may be the only spot outside a museum where a patron can text “I’m standing by the Damien Hirst statue!” to the person they’re looking for and receive a “Wait, which one?” response, as several Hirst originals pop up across the property. (The Hirst sculpture, the most notable of the lot, is the bronze rendering of a giant male form that stands taller than a brownstone in the center of the pool.)
A cluster of disco balls hangs above the dance floor, and tesla coils crackled and sparked between them before the headliners took the stage each night. Ribbons of LED screens line the mezzanine, and Marshmello’s own trademark, cylindrical mask — which is outfitted with its own glowing capabilities — lit up in corresponding patterns and hues when he climbed into the booth on Thursday night (April 4). The mysterious DJ/producer reportedly secured one of the most lucrative deals in Vegas when he signed on for his KAOS residency, and the mood for the launch of his run, which coincided with KAOS’ first official night of business, was joyous: when his hands weren’t working the console, he was bouncing and flailing along with the partygoers, as much a member of the dancing congregation as the one setting the rhythm of its collective heartbeat.
The music extends out into the open, as there’s no wall between KAOS’ nightclub and day club. The DJ booth is the boundary between them and rotates so that those watching poolside will get the same view as the high rollers waiting on bottle service in the VIP tables insides at different points in the set. Every artist took advantage of this 360-degree feature, and some — namely J Balvin, G-Eazy and Scott — began their sets by popping up on a stage set up on the other side of the pool before sprinting through the crowd toward the center of the action. Others, like Cardi B, hit the VIP sections flanking the DJ booth early to mingle and dance just an arm’s length away from their fans before their performances. G-Eazy braved a potential fire hazard to strut down a runway surrounded by pyrotechnics at one point. (Those weren’t the only ones, either, as the whole side of the building set off a spectacular fireworks display before the music started on Saturday night.)
To close out the weekend, Zac Brown Band played a more traditional set by the pool on Sunday night, which showed how KAOS is amenable to gigs as heavy on the twang as the club nights are on bass. Given that the Academy of Country Music Awards wrapped up an hour before his set time a 10-minute drive from KAOS, Vegas was full of country fans — and a couple thousand of them, including several members of the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, flooded the cabanas to the sounds of “Home Grown” and ZBB’s multi-harmonied covers.
Palms general manager John Gray has spoken about his grand aspirations for KAOS and its inclusive approach for music programming. (In addition to the club, the Pearl Theater — which hosted Alicia Keys and Hozier over the weekend — has been the home of Lady Antebellum’s residency since February.) “Diversity in the lineup is the next evolution in Las Vegas nightlife,” Gray told Billboard in January. “I have watched the market and what people are responding well to, and people want to see live performances from all categories and an incredible lineup of DJs — you need to show that range now.”
In its first 100 hours, KAOS and the Palms managed to practice what it preaches by embracing a heavy-hitting lineup that plucked superlative talent from an eclectic, esteemed group of chart-toppers and handed over the key cards to their top-of-the-line, LED-plastered castle. You can outfit a beautifully designed room with the most advanced technology money can buy, but that’s wasted unless you’ve got the best voices in the business blasting over the speakers. The Palms understood that in order for KAOS to become a premier attraction for music fans, it needed to wow the music-makers first — and it hit the jackpot in that regard.