Steve Aoki’s favorite Fremont Street story is when he and a buddy dropped $500 along the casino promenade.
Who among us has not been there? Show of hands?
It was 2011. Aoki recorded the video for his music video for “No Beef,” with Dutch producer and DJ Afrojack.
“We shot the whole video here in Las Vegas, and it was a shoestring budget,” Aoki said. “We went to downtown Las Vegas, tourist T-shirts, funny hats, running all over downtown, shooting. There was a DJ we found on the street, who had like a rolling booth … we got fake tattoos down here. It’s a great memory, because it was an anthem and a big hit for the music scene at the time.”
Aoki performed for about 8,000 folks, many of whom match his description from “No Beef,” as he unveiled the first section of FSE’s Viva Vision video display.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman welcomed Aoki to the stage as the throng chanted “A-O-KI! A-O-KI!” His hits “Delirious,” “Azukita” and “Waste It On Me” were played in a six-minute montage and is in Viva Vision’s regular rotation, joining video-audio tributes to The Chainsmokers, Green Day, Imagine Dragons, The Killers and Tiesto, among others.
The other seven sections will be unveiled one at a time leading to the Viva Vision launch party on New Year’s Eve. FSE President and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Hughes says it’s possible other artists will be unveiled as the Viva Vision renovation progresses. He also said the promenade will continue to present live music.
“Live music brings people to Fremont Street and we don’t want that to change,” Hughes says, while invoking a popular live-entertainment attraction on the Strip between Linq Hotel and Harrah’s. “Think of this as Carnival Court — a very big Carnival Court.”
The Viva Vision revamp project runs $32 million, funded in large part by the SlotZilla zip line, which is how Aoki arrived to the Main Street Stage. He then sneaked up the stairs, out of view of the crowd, until leaping up unannounced from behind the turntables. The crowd went nuts, with Goodman leading cheers from her spot onstage.
Billed as the world’s largest LED screen, the display is to cover five city blocks, and glow with 16,433,152 pixels and 5,000 Nits (for you pixels-and-Nits fans). It is seven times brighter than the current display, which premiered in 2004. It will run 24/7, with music montages at night and atmospheric scenes during the day.
Aoki routinely packs Hakkasan Nightclub and Wet Republic at MGM Grand, Omnia at Caesars Palace and Jewel Nightclub at Area. The FSE Viva Vision show is a chance to reach his younger fans.
“Those are specifically for the market that wants them, 21-years-old plus,” Aoki says. “You go there for a purpose, you don’t just drop in … but I want all-ages, I want kids. My music really sinks in with the youth, I make music for people with passion and vigor, of all ages.”
Aoki also says that featuring his art on the Fremont Street is personally important.
“I live in Las Vegas, and the Fremont Street Experience is a big part of the Las Vegas experience,” said Aoki, who routinely packs Hakkasan Nightclub and Wet Republic at MGM Grand and Omnia at Caesars Palace. “Whenever I can be part of Las Vegas history and the legacy of Las Vegas, I’m all in.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1on Instagram.