For the past several years, Las Vegas nightclubs found themselves dominated by electronic dance music. Popular artists within the genre from Calvin Harris and Tiësto to Deadmau5 were getting residency contracts reportedly estimated to be in the millions. Meanwhile, Electric Daisy Carnival could easily be considered the biggest gathering of EDM artists on the West Coast. But more recently, there’s been news of numerous Sin City night clubs cutting back on those $400,000-a-night DJs.
Speaking with Page Six last March, Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub owner Victor Drai had much to say about overpriced EDM DJs.
“People are sick of the DJs in Vegas,” he said. “It’s ridiculous to have the same five or six guys, pay them a fortune and lose money. It will reach a point where DJs are totally irrelevant.”
That’s why Drai’s has been leading the shift from expensive EDM sets to live performances from some of the biggest artists in Hip Hop today.
“When I built Drai’s, I realized I didn’t want to go with DJs because it didn’t make sense to get them for what you paid them for and I find the performances of the DJs boring,” said Victor Drai to DX over the phone. “I was looking to do something else and went to live performance. That’s the reason why I did the club that way.”
Kendrick Lamar recently kicked off New Year’s Eve at the venue and even brought out Young Thug. Previously, Big Sean, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill, G-Eazy, T.I., Future, Fabolous, 50 Cent and Machine Gun Kelly (among others) have performed at Drai’s. Even frequent Future collaborator DJ Esco enjoyed a residency there at one point.
These performances aren’t just brief club appearances either, according to Victor’s son and Talent Coordinator Dustin Drai.
“When we were looking to make a statement into the club life out here, we realized we couldn’t just have a Hip Hop artist come and do two or three songs,” said Dustin Drai. “We really needed the artist to do something different and bigger. So, we had to do the full live concert. We turned into a space where not only do you have a fun nightclub experience, but you get to see your favorite Hip Hop artist do a full show. Not just a one or two song thing and they’re off the mic. This is a full production from 45 minutes to an hour.”
Dustin Drai mentioned the reality of Hip Hop dominating Top 40 radio and the lean toward booking those acts for live performances led to word of mouth spreading like wildfire. G-Eazy, RJ and Fabolous even gave them a shoutout on various records.
The venue, located on the rooftop of The Cromwell, which sits on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Flamingo Blvd., averages around 3,500 to 5,000 people.
Drai’s Managing Partner Brian Affronti said that each night at the club is carefully orchestrated in order for patrons to have “the time of their life,” and includes paramedics on staff just in case things get too lit.
“There are several moving parts to Drai’s that differ from other clubs for various reasons,” Affronti said. “Starting at the front door that is 11 stories below the club and making sure that all our patrons make it in quickly and smoothly. Getting several thousand people through the door and up into the club is a feat in itself. Just before doors open, each department holds a relevant pre-shift meeting to go over items for the night like VIPs, table count, security matters, etc.”
This year, they’ve taken their marketing to another level by partnering up with Billboard and Complex, explained Creative Director Tal Cooperman. Performances for this year include Gucci Mane, Nelly, D.R.A.M., Rev Run, Fat Joe and others.
With other Las Vegas nightclubs are already attempting to change their format from EDM, Drai’s taking the risk of live performances from Hip Hop artists has already paid off fully.
“The experience of watching someone at Drai’s is like no other in the world,” Victor Drai said. “You can almost touch them and feel them. It’s quite a unique experience. I think that’s what makes the difference is the way the club is set up and stage is set up. You really feel the performance next to you. That’s what I’m very proud of. You can see that on the stage. It’s quite cool.”