Grammy Awards move to Las Vegas draws mixed reviews

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“We’re all going to get COVID.”

That was the prevailing sentiment among music industry attendees who made the trip to Las Vegas for the 64th annual Grammy Awards.

After two years of confinement and the start stops of the 2022 edition of the show, it seemed that many were ready to brave the recycled air and the unmasked masses on the casino floor, not to mention the loud speakers struggling with decibels deafening among the many VIPs of the city. clubs.

And for the most part, the reunion aspect of the Grammys was a welcome one, as past and present colleagues and collaborators mingled enthusiastically in the flesh. (See: hitmakers and Grammy nominees Benny Blanco and Blake Slatkin, below.)

during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards held at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 3, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Brian Friedman for Variety

However, it’s fair to say that the overwhelming consensus on Las Vegas as the location of music’s biggest night is a resounding boost.

Before we dig in, it’s worth pointing out that no one wanted the Grammys to be in Las Vegas — including the Recording Academy, which is hosting the ceremony with broadcast partner CBS. They had been moving full speed ahead to holding the show at the usual home of Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, when Omicron’s spike late last year forced a postponement.

Because the show requires a nearly two-week lockdown on the arena that hosts it — and traditionally draws more than 20,000 people to the event — their options were limited: Every suitable venue in Los Angeles, as well as cities suited to music such as New York, Nashville, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago – have been booked through June with sporting events and acts rushing to resume touring post-lockdown. Holding an annual event such as the Grammys just months before its traditional late January-early February date, which has been pushed back six to eight weeks over the past two years, is logistically and financially undesirable for some number of reasons. Sources say Las Vegas and the MGM Grand Garden Arena was the best option because of its proximity to the home of the Grammys in Los Angeles, the fact that it’s the traditional venue for the Latin Grammys, and most importantly, because it was available: The city’s new T-Mobile Arena attracted plenty of suitable headliners.

While many attendees acknowledged the difficult circumstances in which the Grammy organizers found themselves, they went out of their way to detail the downsides of Vegas, which, despite being an entertainment city through and through, seemed lacking the sparkle and glamor one would expect to find on music’s biggest night. .

Nowhere was that more evident than at the Spotify Best New Artist party on Saturday at the Encore Beach Club. The event has traditionally featured performances from all the category nominees. But with 10 picks, one of which wasn’t even old enough to enter the day box, the streamer opted to forgo the live aspect. Instead, Jimmie Allen and Arooj Aftab gazed in confusion beyond the velvet rope at a crowded pool of bachelors and birthday revelers all scorching in the barely shaded grotto.

The house chosen by the Grammys for the MGM Grand also proved problematic for some. Of course, many of the award shows take place in its Grand Garden Arena, which seats 17,000 people, slightly fewer than Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as Staples Center), where pretzels and nachos are great food, but for the Grammys to offer sweet cocktail mixes and toasted nuts because the only food was a major complaint of the night — not to mention that ticket holders couldn’t bring food or drink to their square. This resulted in awkward exchanges with venue ushers, who were instructed to keep people away when they weren’t on commercial break.

The VIP tables at the front of the arena were a nice touch, and perhaps a mainstay at future awards shows. The intention was a sense of intimacy. And judging by the widely circulated photos of the stars mingling and wandering, it was mission accomplished. Social distancing wasn’t on the cards, but that closeness made for a better viewing experience for those at home.

But to make matters worse, the Grammys joined a busy early spring weekend filled with traditionally boisterous Vegas revelers — including late spring breakers — and the arena is located inside a sprawling complex that combines a hotel, a huge casino, a shopping center and more, creating a surreal scene outside the arena before the show, as people in casual or swimming clothes combined with the brilliant Grammy participants; the stage outside the venue before the show was packed and not a bit chaotic.

Still, arguably the biggest complaint was the level of difficulty getting around Las Vegas until the drums of unfolding Grammy Week parties, which were largely crowded on weekends. The events took place in an area of ​​just a few square miles around the Vegas Strip, but it’s congested with weekend traffic and the number of out-of-town visitors meant taxi and service lines cars were dozens deep for much of the weekend; it often took over an hour to cover less than a mile. Plus, Las Vegas’ sprawling hotel complexes, dense crowds, and (likely intentional) lack of clear signage mean it can take 20 minutes or more even to find an exit, let alone the taxi stand or the Uber pick-up.

Not that executives had to worry about such trivial logistical matters as many personal drivers hired at their beck and call. Namely: A president of a major music company left his phone behind and a car was quickly dispatched to find and return it. All was not lost, including the mobile numbers of some of the biggest music stars in the world. As is often the case in the music industry, your next hit is just a phone call away.

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