Though the Grammy Awards were in Las Vegas this year for the first time ever, that didn’t stop the music biz from showing up in strong numbers. Sunday night (Apr. 3), following the ceremony, the Vegas Strip was packed with after parties, ranging from Warner’s low-key, Joni Mitchell-attended event at the NoMad Library to Lil Nas X‘s rager at JEWEL Nightclub at the ARIA that featured pole dancers, giant Montero graphics and — perhaps most importantly — an open bar.
Most the big label groups hosted something in honor of their nominees, including Concord and Sony, but one of the most exciting events of the night was at at Delilah at Wynn Las Vegas, hosted by John Terzian of hospitality firm the h.wood Group and PIXL8 Partners. Dubbed the Gala Gala, the event was attended by a slew of stars, including one of the night’s biggest winners Silk Sonic, which took home the Grammys for song and record of the year. After midnight, Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and the rest of the band took over the stage to perform a set of originals and classic hip-hop and R&B with special guest BJ The Chicago Kid, including Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
Silk Sonic’s awards came as a surprise to many, who predicted Olivia Rodrigo would have a clean sweep this year — à la Billie Eilish in 2020 — for her debut album SOUR. But the bigger conversation point was Jon Batiste taking home the album of the year trophy. One manager scoffed, saying Batiste “didn’t have the numbers” to beat out what they felt were more popular projects for the award, echoing an age old debate, and one that was certainly going around town: should the Grammys honor popularity, or critical excellence, or one that manages to combine both?
Unlike typical years, where Grammy events can take up a whole week in L.A., most of this year’s attendees made a point of flying in and out of Vegas in a tight 48 hours, arriving Saturday morning and leaving Monday (April 4). Smaller numbers arrived Friday for the annual MusiCares Person of the Year dinner and silent auction honoring Joni Mitchell, a hot ticket in the desert for those who got to the city early.
Featuring standout performances by Billy Porter, John Legend and Brandi Carlile, the MusiCares dinner was a tasteful opportunity for business folks to reacquaint themselves with these big music weekends — after two years working at home. Some attendees speculated during the pre-show mingling that a few jabs at Spotify might take place, given that Mitchell recently removed her music from the streaming service earlier this year, but ultimately, nothing happened and the Spotify folks got to enjoy the music of Mitchell in peace.
While the MusiCares event was a success, chatter around the party bemoaned that some of the most important guests — like Graham Nash, James Taylor and others — weren’t able to make it to Vegas for the rescheduled date, leaving the event with an incomplete roster of artists to perform.
By Saturday, though, the pickup lines for Grammy tickets were packed. So were the parties. During the day, Leon Bridges and the Ricky Reed-headed label Nice Life hosted festivities at Top Golf and artists like Glass Animals and Lauv hung out at the Spotify Best New Artists brunch — “brunch” being a loose term. While in pre-pandemic times, Spotify’s Grammy party was known to be one of the biggest events of the weekend, with performances from the majority of each year’s best new artist nominees, this edition was more scaled back, featuring avocado toast and mimosas in a fenced-off VIP section of the Encore beach club. A few hours in, David Guetta was scheduled to play a set for the general pool guests, shifting the atmosphere from a daytime happy hour to a true Vegas pool party.
At night, music folks splintered off into various smaller parties, including Anitta‘s birthday party; Silk Sonic’s after party for their current residency at the Park MGM; the RIAA and Live Nation’s more buttoned-up affair; Ninja Tune, Outlier and Nice Age’s Grammy pre-party with Bonobo; the Grammy ICON reception, honoring Sony Music Group’s Rob Stringer; or Sean Paul‘s club night in honor of his best reggae album nomination.
Other festivities on Saturday tended to be more on the serious side. The Entertainment Law Initiative hosted a daytime event and Sony Music Publishing served up a more relaxed happy hour. Sunday’s hottest late-late party was hosted by producer Benny Blanco, beginning in the wee hours of the morning; others in town just went straight to the casino or to one of the many high-end restaurants to cap off the night.
In general, while many still made it out to Vegas, industry folks were largely not happy about the city choice and that the rescheduling left them to pay exorbitant flight rates just to get there to work. Younger business people, if they came at all, were often huddling multiple people per room, driving in from Los Angeles, or just otherwise scrambling to save some pennies here and there.