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A tale of two ‘new’ venues: Axis at Planet Hollywood and The Chelsea at Cosmo

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Bruno Mars debuts at the new Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Las Vegas.
Photo: Denise Truscello/WireImage/DeniseTruscello.net

AXIS

‘Britney: Piece of Me’ Opening Night

Evolution: Axis is the fifth name for the legendary indoor amphitheater, known to older music fans originally as the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts. Its most striking changes include massive video-screen walls that flank either side of the stage, VIP booths within the orchestra seating and a general admission “dancefloor” that, for Britney Spears’ Piece of Me show that debuted on Friday night, is divided by a T-shaped performer catwalk. Also for Planet Hollywood’s newest resident production: Seating is limited to 4,600 seats downstairs, with the upstairs level closed.

Entrance: Same as with the previous incarnations of the theater, with the non-VIP ticketholder line snaking through the Miracle Mile mall at times.

Lobby and bars: Also similar to the older theater configurations. Which is to say: Large lobby for meeting people (good), and large drink lines due to too-few bars (bad). Drinks are reliably pricey.

The Axis at Planet Hollywood

Sound: During the Britney show, some numbers sounded crystal-clear—maybe too much so, as it revealed all the various production elements the band obviously wasn’t playing live. And others revealed a PA sounding more like an old transistor radio. We’d happily reassess during a real concert.

Upcoming schedule: And real concerts are forthcoming, as Live Nation has taken over booking responsibilities. An announcement is slated for February.

EDM factor: The Axis was configured to adapt to Vegas’ increasingly dance music-friendly landscape. With its sight-line-stretching video walls, it could certainly compete with Light nightclub for visual immersion, though the general admission “dancefloor” could be a little small for the type of headliners a venue that size would require. Also: Available cocktail “flasks” come courtesy of Drai’s, further extending its nightlife operations into the Strip entertainment infrastructure.

THE CHELSEA

Bruno Mars Debuts at the Chelsea

Evolution: This Chelsea is a brand new venue, a conceptual theater-style venue one floor below the “ballroom” of the same name, where Cosmo once booked acts like The Killers, The Black Keys and Adele, much to the dismay of music fans who openly vilified the glorified convention space. Now, tiered and built-in seats replace the old Chelsea’s rear-venue bleachers, and VIP booths are now a second-floor entity, away from the GA floor. Still a factor: a hardly shake-proof floor, as the GA crowd simulated LA-style tremors when it pogoed to “Locked Out of Heaven” during Bruno Mars’ opening-night set on Sunday.

Entrance: Even after the 9 p.m. time printed on tickets for Mars’ residency debut, a motionless line remained from the venue—located at the westernmost end of the third floor—all the way to Jaleo, in front of the property’s east escalators. At the end of that long queue: several stanchions to divide attendees by ticket type, a wristband-application station and a set of metal detectors that, at least on Sunday night, didn’t really impede the flow into the venue. So get there early, ticketholders.

Lobby and bars: There’s a large open lobby downstairs and a plush lounge just behind the nosebleed seats (which are actually only 100 feet from the stage). Beverages are costly here, too, though the Cosmo’s esteemed cocktail program concocted drinks for the venue.

The Chelsea

Sound: Even though Axis is supposed to be the “EDM”-considered concert venue, the Chelsea is the one with the booming bass—and during some of Mars’ concert, there was too much of it, overpowering the other music instruments and the singer’s voice.

Upcoming schedule: Fitz and the Tantrums & Capital Cities, Cage the Elephant & Grouplove, and Empire of the Sun during April’s “Nochella” period are the Chelsea’s first non-Bruno bookings. Venue reps have said the space will also accommodate convention keynote events and boxing matches.

EDM factor: The Chelsea’s GA area is absolutely enormous, as is the stage and its production capabilities. With those, the Cosmo could once again lure a DJ as popular as Deadmau5—if, of course, Deadmau5 ever returns to Las Vegas.

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