Meet AREA15: an entertainment venue bringing festival energy to Las Vegas with a secret bunker-style building that is bursting with psychedelic art installations, games, food, and shopping.
Recent bookings at AREA15 include resident dance acts like Chase & Status and Gareth Emery, and even live bands from beyond the festival circuit like Avenged Sevenfold—all against the backdrop of world-class production in three different live event spaces.
The venue’s hallmark “Massives” are wildly-imaginative, themed parties soundtracked by some of the best in the business.
AREA15’s Head of Entertainment, Noah Kessler, chatted with us about what it takes to curate world-class events and how the venue is moving differently in an era of post-pandemic live music madness.
EDM Maniac: Take me through your day as Head of Entertainment at AREA15. What is involved in your position?
Kessler: On one hand, I work on running the events and entertainment department internally. And on the other hand, I’m a talent buyer, and I work deals with different artists and agencies and their management, booking the talent for different shows.
When the show plays out, I’ll come check it out, see how the operations are happening, the production, and how the artists perform. From there, we work to settle up the shows financially, make sure everyone gets paid out on time—really important.
EDM Maniac: Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to work in music? How did you find yourself in this role?
Kessler: I grew up in an interesting place in the world, in Zuni, New Mexico. Zuni Pueblo has a really incredible group of people and has incredible music as part of their culture.
I was growing up around that very inspired by the power of music to bring people together.
I did some work with the incarcerated youth in Albuquerque around music production and event organization. I worked a bit with the college (University of New Mexico) and then went on to intern and get hired with C3 Presents in Austin, where I worked for five years, really cut my teeth, and learned a lot of really valuable lessons.
EDM Maniac: What were some of those lessons from your early days in the industry?
Kessler: Be connected to music that moves us and art that really speaks to our heart; letting our heart guide us in life.
People can become jaded in the industry, with so much volume, so much business and work, and I think people can lose touch with that. Remember to be in touch with that and just come from the heart in everything that we do, first and foremost.
EDM Maniac: There is clearly great care that goes into the Massives. What does it take to build an AREA15 Massive?
Kessler: You really rely on the hands of many to pull something together and weave it all in to create a really flawless, mindful, well-thought-out, intentional event.
We start with our headliner and try to lock someone in and then curate the bill around the headliner. We often ask the headliner who they would like to see on the bill and program out a showcase around them for the main stage and A-Lot.
We’ll come back to the team with the lineup; the creative team pulls really awesome assets together. And then meanwhile, Kim Benneville (AREA15’s Head of Experiences) and her team are working on what the experience is going to be in terms of theming, performers, storytelling.
EDM Maniac: AREA15 has only been open for three years, but has been booking some huge names. What is the secret to success there?
Kessler: In a lot of ways, artists are starting to see AREA15 as another artist to work with. They’re almost like “That’s a very creative entity that I’m gonna go plug in with and do something. It’s special, it’s unique, it’s gonna be fun.” And that’s I think a bit of our special sauce.
EDM Maniac: What is one aspect of the work you guys do at AREA15 that is either underappreciated or less well-known?
Kessler: It takes a lot to get a simple, clean event. That’s something that I think is taken for granted by all of us.
If at the end of the day, you have a safe environment, you have good quality sound and audio, people focused on running it, and it’s communicated well, then you’ve got a great experience on your hands. And that’s where it gets fun.
Once you have this solid foundational element, then you can start to bring in all these different layers that help to take it a little bit further; take people to a transcendent space. That’s what we’re trying to do.
EDM Maniac: Do you have a favorite AREA15 event that you’ve been a part of so far?
Kessler: Landing the Avenged Sevenfold thing was awesome. To bring in a rock band that had been in hibernation for five or six years and not only blow the tickets out in two hours, the day before the show, but also have this ability to move a fan through a whole immersive experience.
The Massives are a lot of fun—like STS9 rocking for two nights with a super stacked undercard. What I want to focus on is that we go above and beyond in terms of curating a really fire lineup. It’s almost like a festival experience in a venue, so it’s boutique, it’s a Massive.
EDM Maniac: What other exciting events does AREA15 have coming up?
We have a couple good local collectives that we’re doing monthly programming with as well. We want to continue to work with our local artists network and encourage Vegas musicians, promoters, artists, event lovers, festival goers to all get involved. It’s really important to us.
We’ll keep it mysterious, but we’ve got an incredible partner coming in to promote a festival for New Year’s. It’s going to be a really good one, big time for the EDM world.
All images from AREA15.