Thursday, July 12, 2012 | 5:11 p.m.
Outside, the Hard Rock Hotel sound system is playing the Bryan Adams 1984 hit “Cuts Like a Knife.”
Inside, workers are carving a new entertainment enclave.
The space is called Vinyl, and as Hard Rock Hotel Vice President of Entertainment Paul Davis says, the name is to evoke the organic warmth -- and even the crackle and pop -- of the new venue.
“We’re after that shred of legitimacy, that rawness and gritty feel of the music, the imperfectness of listening to a vinyl album,” Davis says, speaking about an hour before a media tour of the Hard Rock’s new and upgraded amenities around the hotel’s circle-shaped casino floor. “We’re after fans who would rather listen to an album than a CD or an mp3.”
The venue’s first ticketed show is Aug. 24, when Long Beach, Calif.-based electronic band Julien-K headlines at the club (click the hotel website for the first set of acts). There has been talk around the hotel about an appearance by Sammy Hagar in August, and he will be at the venue next month, but for a private party. He won’t perform, but will meet and greet.
As for Vinyl’s layout, those details still remain TBD. The façade is layered in brick-fashioned wall coverings and gives nothing away to the design inside. Vinyl’s capacity will cap at 650, which raises the eyebrows of those who expected the venue to be far more intimate (initial word was the room would seat about half that figure). At the moment, the room is totally gutted, and those inside seem like they are auditioning for a Village People tribute show -- but just for the construction-worker role.
“We’re going for an industrial look,” Davis says as he looks across the space at exposed beams and construction equipment.
The point is, there is a lot of work to be done inside Vinyl.
The most obvious comparison to Vinyl is the Hard Rock’s own, far-gone entertainment venue Wasted Space. That hybrid nightspot was a live music hall and nightclub, about the same size as Vinyl.
“On the live side, it will be very much like Wasted Space was, but we will not be running it like a nightclub,” Davis says. “Wasted Space was kind of 50-50, and Vinyl will not be that. But the programming will be very similar to what we did in Wasted Space, very similar to a Viper Room, Troubadour, Roxy – those types of venues.”
Such popular touring acts as Black Joe Lewis and Neon Trees were featured at Wasted Space. Katy Perry held a single release event at the club, Snow Patrol appeared at an album-release party, and Pink played a New Year’s Eve show at the venue. Those types of artists could easily headline at Vinyl.
“Over time, organically, you have a lot of big-name bands that have members who have side projects who would appear here,” Davis says. “Chester (Bennington) from Linkin Park had Dead By Sunrise, and they played Wasted Space. Special shows like that would fit well here.”
Expect such Las Vegas bands as Sin City Sinners, who performed at the Lounge (the venue’s most recent incarnation) over New Year’s weekend, to be regular performers at Vinyl. Emerging local bands will find a new live option, too.
“We want to be an incubator for young bands,” Davis says. “We could have a band come through Vinyl and a year later play the pool, and the year after that they play the Joint.”
Davis also says nights featuring stand-up comedy and even burlesque are being discussed. The idea is to fill five nights a week with no specified house band performing on set nights.
“But having said that, talk to me in a year,” Davis says, smiling. “That might all change.”
The hotel also gave a quick sniff at some of the other improvements that have been finished or are continuing:
• New menu items and additional seating have been added to Mr. Lucky’s Cafe. The new seats are outside the original restaurant space and have supplanted a bank of slot machines. The cafe remains one of the city’s chic eateries that is open 24/7 and also a spot where you might spot such celebs as Emilio Estevez, which was a noteworthy Mr. Lucky’s sighting from 1999.
• The Ainsworth bar and restaurant is taking over the space that was originally the casino’s sports book. The bar-restaurant is an outpost of Paige Management Properties, which owns similarly styled pubs at Madison Square Garden and in Chelsea in New York. One of the company’s trick design effects is LED screens around the room that turn into mirrors when sports are not being televised. One moment you’re watching the Yankees-Mets, the next your date is staring at the screen and applying lipstick.
• Set to open this summer, targeted for August, is Culinary Dropout. This place is edgy. How edgy? The staff doesn’t even wear uniforms! Which is not to suggest that they don’t wear any attire. They do. But they are rebellious! Sixty-six percent of the menu at C.D. is liquefied. It’s a gastropub, which means it specializes in bar food (which was once known as barf food, but not these days), offering appetizers, salads, sandwiches and even an antipasti menu. This place looks like a lot of fun, honestly, appointed with purple and green chandeliers and velvet chairs. It seems a bit like what the Cosmopolitan would put up as a restaurant, actually, and that’s exactly not a ruinous idea.
• The Hard Rock Store has been downsized by two-thirds and moved across the hotel from its original location. It still specializes in Hard Rock Hotel-branded souvenirs and mementos (T-shirts, hats, shot glasses and the like), but gone is the rock-fashioned clothing that took up ample acreage in the old spot. That service at the Hard Rock is now provided exclusively by John Varvatos. You can still buy swimwear, though, in case you forgot to pack such for Rehab Sundays.