Thursday, January 14, 2016


1. SLS has undergone a lot of changes in its 17-month history, a big one being the end of regular operations (despite an ambitious and competitive residency program) at former anchor nightclub Life last July. In November, the north-Strip resort announced the 20,000-square-foot room would transform into the Foundry, a live-entertainment venue that will open February 5 with headliner Awolnation. During a media preview this morning, Matt Minichino, SLS' vice president of nightlife and entertainment, said SLS sought "an entertainment driver on the property," which resulted in his hiring last March and the increase in live acts at nightlife venues such as Foxtail. Now, the multi-purpose, 1,800-capacity Foundry will host concerts, comedy and award shows, convention-related events and one-off nightlife parties.

2. Intimacy is the selling point at the Foundry. After walking through the front entrance, patrons are immediately hit by a substantially wide, 25-foot-by-65-foot stage that nearly stretches the length of the venue and allows for more general admission ticketholders to get closer to performers. Though the stage compares to the Joint's, which stretches 60 feet across, Minichino-former director of nightlife operations at Hard Rock Hotel-thinks the Foundry's layout and general vibe have more in common with the old Joint.

3. "It's an authentic rock room," added Kurt Melien, president of the Las Vegas office for Live Nation, the entertainment company partnering with SLS to program the Foundry. But he was quick to add that other genres will be represented. One day after Awolnation christens the room, Lil Wayne and Wu Tang Clan's Method Man and Redman will bring hip-hop into it. Alt-pop act X Ambassadors, which has ties to Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds, is scheduled for March 26. And April 1 features singer and former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert. Minichino said more show announcements are forthcoming.

4. The Foundry doesn't look too different from its predecessor, though its side bars look more hidden now that they sit flush with the stage, and the platforms and structures Life's aerial acts used have been cleared out. Five LED screens remain, along with various lighting grids, offering a bit more rear-venue atmosphere than most music venues. As for how it sounds, the Foundry swapped out Life's Funktion One club-centric system with 20 Danley Sound Labs speakers. This morning's press event featured a two-song performance by a band featuring local performers Daniel Park and Ben Carey, and it was projected loud and clear.

5. Will the Foundry win us over? It has the sensory elements to make it a contender, but it will have to keep ticket prices down in a market where competition has made them among the highest in the nation (to be fair, tickets for the four scheduled concerts reasonably sit in the $25-$40 range), and offer programming that boasts both in-demand superstars and non-mainstream acts-though for those hoping for the latter, you may want to curb your enthusiasm. "Entertainment in other cities serves a wider range of tastes across a greater number of formats, but here in Las Vegas the broader population of tourists is looking for immediate name recognition," Melien told the Sun last August. We shall see if the Foundry bears that out, or if it will diversify the calendar and maximize its appeal to music fans living in and coming to Las Vegas.