Live music club looks to build a future in EDM mecca

The $100 million Omnia nightclub opened at Caesars Palace about the same time the Brooklyn Bowl across the street at The Linq marked its first anniversary.

You can debate how much, if any, the two compete for the same people. But they’re both aiming for one thing: Longevity.

Nightclubs notoriously have been about what’s new. That’s one reason why Pure, which once ruled Las Vegas nightlife, closed after 10 years to make room for Omnia, which opened just in time (or only four days late) for Justin Bieber’s 21st birthday.

The Hakkasan Group can at least move superstar DJs back and forth to fight any perception that its namesake club at the MGM Grand is old news compared with its new bright, shiny object.

But live clubs are different, says the Brooklyn Bowl’s founder and co-owner, Peter Shapiro. “A great live music venue is an institution,” he says. Fans build a loyalty to the venue as well as the headliner.

Shapiro points out he is responsible for an 80,000-square-foot operation, which is actually a little bigger than Omnia, and not directly within casino walls. “It’s hard,” he says. “It’s not easy to build your name. It’s crowded.”

There were two big questions when the Brooklyn Bowl arrived. The first was whether Shapiro could score his share of concert bookings from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, Hard Rock Hotel and the Palms.

Here the speed-talking, decidedly noncorporate Shapiro — who rose from Deadhead to promoter of the Grateful Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field in July — has reason to sound upbeat.

Last month, he notes, Jack White played the Brooklyn Bowl fresh from Madison Square Garden. Next month he has Alabama Shakes and in May, Robert Plant; both shows the competition wanted.

How did he get Plant? “He played the Brooklyn Bowl in New York,” he says, as if that’s explanation enough. “We leverage relationships.”

The other question was whether Shapiro could create or consolidate a younger audience for smaller, more eclectic bookings, the ones which “wouldn’t have a natural home in Vegas.”

“That’s where Vegas is different,” says Eric Kabik, who started the Las Vegas Jam Band Society in the 1990s and now shoots for the Brooklyn Bowl as a freelance photographer. “I feel like when I visit other markets, there’s a lot of live music and it seems like younger people you would see (here) at a nightclub, hanging out and listening to blues and soul music.”

Shapiro says there has been a learning curve here in the mecca of electronic dance music. Mondays and Tuesdays are pulling in the service industry, but he reined in late-night plays of headline bands.

“I’ve learned a lot,” says this Deadhead mogul. “You just gotta keep your head down, do a good job, create good vibes and the cream rises.”

For more stories from Mike Weatherford go to bestoflasvegas.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com.

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