Whether you’re a band looking to stage an indie night or an artist who’s about to play the hallowed ground that is Las Vegas, putting on the right show is important. Naturally, how much decoration you can put up will depend largely on what you’re allowed to do by the venue’s management, as well as the opinions of your bandmates. However, we think that a good Vegas-themed gig can be a great way to theme your event without having to spend too much money (ironically, given that Vegas is essentially paradise for spending money). Here’s how you can put together a great Vegas-themed gig.
Get your decor right
The first and most important step when it comes to planning a Vegas-themed gig is to make sure the decor looks right. Vegas casinos are glitzy and glamorous; they often incorporate colours like green, red, black, white, and gold, so your set dressing should reflect this scheme. Similarly, you can’t go wrong with decorations like playing cards, casino chips, or even fully-fledged casino tables.
Again, this will be limited by what the venue will allow you to do. At the very least, it’s a good idea to scatter these decorations across the stage if possible. You could even add casino-themed covers to your amplifiers and drum riser, as well as the mic stand the singer is using. Vegas-themed decor doesn’t have to be expensive, but it adds a huge amount of ambience to any gig.
Get yourself in the mood
If you’re putting on a Vegas gig, why not try some Vegas-themed activities to get you in the mood? You could try your luck on a casino website to see how high rollers live, for example, or perhaps even visit a real-life casino to absorb the aesthetic and atmosphere. You don’t necessarily need to actually spend any real money; just explore the site or the casino itself and perhaps talk to some punters to get an idea of how casinos work.
Alternatively, if you really feel like committing to the act, you could actually take a trip to Vegas and play at some casinos there. Vegas holidays are a great way to get away from the daily grind, and while the place can get overwhelming after a while, spending just a little bit of time there should give you some great ideas for your gig. Hopefully, you don’t lose too much at the roulette tables!
Play some casino-themed covers
Can your band play “Viva Las Vegas”? How about “The Gambler”, or “Desperado”? If your act incorporates cover versions of other songs, you may want to change up your usual repertoire for something a little more thematically appropriate. You don’t even necessarily have to play directly casino-related songs; even Vegas-adjacent music (“Vegas” by Sara Bareilles, for example, or “Heaven or Las Vegas” by the Cocteau Twins) could be great additions to your set.
One way in which you can make sure you’re getting as many casino-related songs into your set as possible would be to put together a medley. Take several similar gambling songs and meld them together, making sure to take extra care over the transitions, which are the most important aspect of any medley. Casino-themed music is popular, so you shouldn’t have any trouble assembling a set list!
Write some gambling-themed music
The romance of gambling as it’s seen in Vegas should be ample material for writing a song. Try to think about the stories that are often told in places like Vegas. What kind of challenges or situations do people often face in casinos? How could you use gambling as a metaphor for things that happen in everyday life? Remember that songs should be universal while still containing specific details to help people anchor themselves to the story.
Listen to great gambling songs and try to identify common elements between them. Many of them don’t actually focus on the gambling itself; instead, they look at the characters taking part in this pastime and wonder what their lives might be like. Take cues from this, but be sure to add your own unique spin to it as well. Using instrumentation like big bands or orchestras (or good-quality samplers of the same) is also a great way to get that Vegas feel to your music.
Go and see some live music
This is more of a general tip for putting on gigs rather than specifically shows pertaining to gambling, but one of the best ways to know how to put on a great show is simply to watch professionals at work. Pay attention to how established acts perform for the audience; how they carry themselves, how they interact with the crowd, and how they order their sets for maximum impact. You can incorporate these tips into your own shows.
It’s not easy to play live, but you can take some inspiration from professional gamblers here as well. The romantic image of the gambler is suave, confident, and witty, always ready to take a risk but fully aware of when it might not be appropriate to do so. You can use this lesson for your own performance as well; you need to be confident, but know when to back off and let the music do the talking. It’s surprising just how much you can learn about performance by thinking about the popular image gamblers have cultivated throughout the years!