Chris Brown’s residency at Drai’s debuts with a massive crowd

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 11: Singer/songwriter Chris Brown performs during the first show of hi ...

The crowd swelled to about 2,900, shoulder to shoulder, jostling for position while balancing their drinks. Cocktail servers pushed through, holding aloft campaign bottles topped with sparklers for the many birthday and bachelorette celebrants in the room.

The headliner showed up as planned — at 2:45 a.m. The party cannons went off, full blast. So did those who packed Drai’s Nightclub at the Cromwell, celebrating Chris Brown’s residency debut, just ahead of Drai’s 25th anniversary. That rolling party is scheduled to start the weekend of June 25, and continue through the end of the year.

The dance is on … @chrisbrown @DraisLV #RJnow #Vegas pic.twitter.com/3ACS2WveDU

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) June 12, 2022

As club founder Victor Drai’s handpicked headliner, Brown is anything but benign. He left no chance that anyone in the club would fall prey to fatigue. Brown sounded a musical alarm with “Go Crazy,” which was a song on the set list and also Brown’s message.

“It’s great to be back in Vegas!” the 33-year old R&B star sounded off. Backed by a thumping dance team, plumes of stage smoke and lasers, he also teased his new album, “Breezy,” by performing “Warm Embrace” and “Mona Lisa.” The album is due out June 24.

Intense, CO2 cannon action w/ @chrisbrown @DraisLV #RJNow @reviewjournal #Vegas pic.twitter.com/t8TnCZwBZC

— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) June 12, 2022

Brown’s arrival time was fine for Dustin Drai, Victor’s son who runs the venue’s day-to-day operations. He has actually pushed back the performance times so club-goers have a chance to party before the star hits the stage. Some of the club’s bottle limits are $15,000-$20,000 booze limit in the club’s VIP sections. Those booths can occupy a dozen, sometimes up to 20, club-goers.

“That is a lot of booze they need to buy in a short amount of time,” Dustin Drai says. “They want to enjoy the club before the performance, so we have moved the time back from 1:15-1:30 to 2:15, sometimes 2:45 a.m. People need to realize, we are not a concert venue. We are a nightclub that puts on concerts, a hybrid of both.”

Victor Drai said he spent two years securing Brown as a headliner. The rapper’s ability to deliver an energetic performance, and sell out a club, is obvious. But so is his off-stage penchant for controversy. Brown has been in a public back-and-forth with his ex Rihanna and rap star/producer A$AP Rocky. Brown had posted “Congratulations” on the couple’s baby, born May 13.

Some fans thought that Brown was being facetious, given his contentious relationship with both artists. And, A$AP Rocky’s latest single, “D.M.B.,” seemed an attack of Brown for his assault of Rihanna in 2009.

But in the context of performing as Drai’s Live’s first resident headliner, Brown has been “an absolute professional,” Drai says.

“I know that he has had a bad reputation, but not with me with me,” Drai says. “He has been just a darling, amazing. For me, he is hard working, I am a big fan of his stage presence, dancing, singing, he is my favorite artist in that genre. For those reasons, it was a natural for me to go after him.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.