The Las Vegas lounge circuit used to be synonymous with schmaltz, its veins pulsing with Velveeta, a haggard drag queen in a land of supermodels.
Of course, it wasn’t always this way.
In its late ’50s and ’60s heyday, this city’s lounge scene embodied smoking-jacket cool, fueled by guys such as Louis Prima, who entertained the whales before and after they blew thousands at the blackjack table.
But in the decades that followed, lounges became passe eyesores, populated by cheeseball crooners who were real-life corollaries to Bill Murray’s greasy, Nick the Lounge Singer character on “Saturday Night Live.”
But in recent years, lounges have come back in vogue, redefining themselves, and there’s another flashy new entry into the circuit: Ovation at Green Valley Ranch.
Part of the third expansion of the property, Ovation is awash in shiny silver contours, deep reds and greens, and an angular white facade that looks as if it was carved from a glacier.
A 500-seat nightspot with three tiers appointed with polished marble tables, plush red and black chairs and multicolored couches, the high-ceilinged club boasts a mammoth lighting rig that looks like a giant metallic spider’s web.
The sound system is powered by the same equipment that Kenny Chesney uses in arena gigs.
It’s a lot of firepower for a relatively small room, the nightclub equivalent of bringing a machete to a knife fight.
“It’s a multipurpose venue,” says Joe Santiago, vice president of entertainment for Station Casinos. “It’s got the equipment in the room to fulfill the needs of national artists, plus it’s got a great vibe for the local scene, for dancing.”
According to Santiago, Ovation plans to alternate around three national headliners a month with shows from the venue’s house band, Rich and Famous, a flashy eight-piece group fronted by singers Andrea Adams and Brandon Nix who add some torque to radio staples from Justin Timberlake to Pink.
Opening Monday, the lounge’s early lineup includes shows by ’90s rockers Collective Soul, country duo Montgomery Gentry and funk throwbacks Kool and the Gang.
Ovation is part of a growing tradition of sleek, modernist lounges at Station Casinos properties: The Chrome Showroom at Santa Fe Station, The Railhead at Boulder Station, the Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort.
Together, they’ve attempted to exorcise all those gaudy ghosts that haunted the Las Vegas lounge scene of the past.
“The room really is the evolution of our lounges,” Santiago says. “It’s an evolution of a lot of different venues culminating into one room. It’s our crown jewel.”
Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com.JASON BRACELINMORE COLUMNS