From Wu-Tang Clan to Britney Spears and more: Las Vegas transforming through musical residencies

The history of residencies is iconic, but the Strip is filled with the future of music.

ByShirleen Allicot KABC logo
Friday, February 23, 2024
Artist residencies helping to fuel the renaissance of Las Vegas
Shirleen Allicot has the story on Las Vegas residencies.

LAS VEGAS -- Sin City, known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, is having a renaissance of sorts.

"This town can do events like nobody else and the spectacle that it is and everybody has an opportunity to experience it," said Marcy Miles, Chief Marketing Officer of the Venetian Resort Las Vegas.

From the Super Bowl to Formula One to The Sphere, a brand new eye-catching event space, Las Vegas is having a moment and artist residencies are a huge part of that.

It's not a new phenomenon, in fact, residencies started back in the '40s with Liberace.

The history of residencies is iconic, but the Strip is filled with the future of music.

"Vegas is a magic city and I'm a big music fan of the Rat Pack and things of that nature," said Wu-Tang Clan's RZA. "And so to be able to think about Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, know and being icons of Vegas, and then knowing that there's a time that Wu-Tang could stamp their footprint as an icon in Vegas, that was one of our strong motivations."

"Residencies in this town were known to be the end of some careers," said founder of Voltaire Michael Gruber. "So now that exists somewhat, but we call them legacy artists and legacy artists can be superstars. They can do 30 or 40 shows at the Sphere, and it's amazing. They can do shows at the Venetian Theater, and it's amazing. So if you come to the Venetian Theater and you see Earth, Wind and Fire, it's a great show. It's a legacy act. When I started doing residencies here, Britney Spears was the first one, and that really was the change of the guard."

Gruber explained that Britney was followed by Jennifer Lopez, who was followed by Keith Urban, who was followed by Gwen Stefani, who was followed by the Backstreet Boys.

"And that's what it is, an opportunity for them before they take a big tour on, is it a turning point in their career where it's less risky to be here, or in the sense of an Adele or Bruno Mars, is it just better for their own personal lives," Gruber said.

The residency has become as much a part of Vegas as a slot machine. But what is it that keeps the top artists of today coming in for a stint in Sin City?

"Artists like to perform residencies because it's really easy on them, they don't have to tour around," said Fedor Banuchi, Senior VP of Entertainment at Fontainebleau Las Vegas. "And Vegas is America's playground, so the saying is they don't have to tour around to the fans, the fans tour around to see them."

Wu-Tang Clan's Masta Kill agreed.

"Residency, residency first hip-hop group ever...and I love it, don't get me wrong, I love touring, but just to be in one location, I don't have to run around and, you know, see the city," said Wu-Tang Clan's Masta Killa. "Like I said, I love touring, love city to city, but this is definitely for where we're at time-wise, career-wise, beautiful."

"Live with Kelly and Mark" will be live from Las Vegas starting next Tuesday.