culture

Day N Vegas Is Not Coachella … Yet

Coachella’s organizers tried another festival in the desert, so we went to review it and asked artists if they liked it

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DaBaby / Day N Vegas

Mixing hip-hop with Las Vegas is a recipe for glamour and chaos. Goldenvoice, the organizers behind Coachella, decided to serve up three days of that concoction for its first all hip-hop/R&B festival called Day N Vegas. I traveled to the Las Vegas Festival Grounds to see if the newest addition to the Goldenvoice family lives up to the grandiose name of its older sibling.

 

The spectacle that is Las Vegas was unmistakable no matter where you were standing at Day N Vegas. The gigantic tower of the Stratosphere Casino & Hotel was visible in the distance behind every one of the acts who performed on the main stage fittingly labeled Jackpot. A large Circus Circus advertisement emblazoned with “Life’s A Circus. Let’s Play” towered over the festival grounds. That same larger-than-life feel was noticeably influential on the festival’s layout with most of the food and drink options eschewing brand names in favor of exaggeratedly large photos of the food options and generic names like Bar, Corn on a Cobb and Hot Pizza. In Las Vegas, the city is the attraction, not the brand names, and the same was true for Day N Vegas.

 

“I am drawn to the look and feel of classic Vegas—bright lights and vintage Vegas glamour. Our goal for Day N Vegas was to bring together that iconography alongside all of today’s best hip-hop and rap artists,” Jeffrey Shuman, Goldenvoice talent buyer for Day N Vegas, told ONE37pm.

The Coachella-Worthy Moments

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J. Cole / Day N Vegas

Anyone who came to Day N Vegas with Coachella-sized ambitions quickly reduced those expectations once they entered the festival. The Las Vegas Festival Grounds is one-third the size of the 78-acre Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, where Coachella is held annually. That smaller size meant the stages weren’t that far apart with the smallest of the stages, Hunnid, being less than a few minutes away from the larger Roll The Dice stage, depending on how many bodies you have to push through. Even with a smaller venue, Goldenvoice still had a few Coachella-worthy moments. 


J. Cole, who had the best set of the festival, closed out the first day of Day N Vegas by flashing “The Fall Off 2020” on screen throughout his performance. The phrase is seemingly an announcement of Cole’s upcoming album that sent the entire crowd into a frenzy. He and his Dreamville artists embodied the best of what Day N Vegas was and could’ve been. The stage production for Cole’s performance was outstanding, with a fake commercial campaigning for Cole’s run for office playing before his set. During his performance, he had actors pretending to answer calls in a faux campaign room. He brought out every Dreamville artist who performed that day and did songs from the label’s platinum-selling Revenge of the Dreamers 3 album for the first time.

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Megan Thee Stallion / Day N Vegas

Megan Thee Stallion ended her set with three rounds of twerking from the crowd members she brought onstage. When it comes to sheer efficiency, no one ran through hit songs, had dozens of fans come on stage, twerked and maintained an impressive level of breath control in a sub-60 minute set as Meg did. Kendrick Lamar also brought out labelmate and rising R&B artist SiR to perform ”Hair Down.” 

Scheduling Chaos and Refund Requests

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21 Savage / Day N Vegas

21 Savage, performing atop a large staircase, also had one of the most raucous sets even though he wasn’t able to do everything he had planned. “Since we didn’t do a 60-minute set how we usually do, we had to cut a lot of stuff sort of on the fly. So certain records we may have wanted to perform, like ‘Ocean Drive,’ we didn’t get to do,” DJ Marc B, 21 Savage’s DJ, told ONE37pm.


Therein lies the main deterrents of Day N Vegas’s appeal: time and transparency. Remember when Kanye West kept altering The Life of Pablo in 2016 after it was already released to streaming services? That’s what Day N Vegas’ scheduling felt like but to a more frustrating degree.

At any point during the three-day festival, an artist would drop out, be added or go on at an entirely different time, sometimes with no advance notice from the organizers. Lil Nas X’s name magically vanished from the lineup without any announcement.

At any point during the three-day festival, an artist would drop out, be added or go on at an entirely different time, sometimes with no advance notice from the organizers. Lil Nas X’s name magically vanished from the lineup without any announcement from Day N Vegas at the festival or on its Twitter account, which had promoted a lineup featuring the “Old Town Road” artist performing. What makes matters worse is he was tweeting on the same day, and possibly at the same time he was scheduled to perform.

 

To Goldenvoice’s credit, the organizers did tell attendees that Saturday’s headliner, Travis Scott, would not be performing. The problem was, it was announced to everyone two days before Scott was set to hit the stage. The festival was berated with refund requests and attempts to resell tickets by customers on Twitter. Playboi Carti, Trippie Redd, Shoreline Mafia and Future/Metro Boomin were added as replacements on Saturday’s lineup, with the latter being Scott’s headlining replacement. 

 

Artists dropping out last minute is nothing new to Goldenvoice, which had to replace Solange at Coachella this year due to production issues, mere days before the festival’s first weekend. But a few of the performers I spoke with felt the handling of the festival was disappointing. 

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6lack / Day N Vegas

6lack’s DJ, DJ Tonee, told ONE37pm that communication with the organizers was a bit off. “Our stage switched last minute. It was probably an hour before we were supposed to perform,” Tonee said. “We have to figure out if our equipment can make it to the other stage. It was little stuff that we shouldn’t have to worry about.” 

 

Even when everything ran well and on time, there were other issues. Future and Metro Boomin performed at the same time as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. Lil Uzi Vert’s performance ended around when Cole’s was starting, and they were on the two stages the farthest from each other. It was nearly impossible to get a good view of the main act, watch their entire set and then watch the next main act and do the same.  

 

“The set times are weird. But it doesn’t matter. I’m going to go on at 10, the same time as J. Cole, and then I’m going to pop out on J. Cole set. I’m the falcon. I’m flying everywhere.” Guapdad4000 told ONE37pm. 

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Denzel Curry / Day N Vegas

Guapdad4000 also said he “signed more autographs than I ever signed” at Day N Vegas. While Day N Vegas has a lot to change in order to be a successful festival like Coachella, its identity as being as unpredictable, diverse and glamorous as Las Vegas is well-established after a fun, albeit disappointing, inaugural festival.

 

“Every festival has its own persona. Vegas gave me different vibes. The crowd was lit, but different cities give you different stuff,” Marc B said. “Vegas gave me a little of the New York vibes and a little bit of LA. It was probably 75/25 New York.”

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