As my cab pulled up to the Maloof family’s Palms Hotel, I couldn’t miss the massive “Z-Trip’s Revolution: A Party for the People” sign towering above the parking lot. Just another piece of evidence confirming DJ culture was permanently etched in the entertainment landscape. Two back -to-back nights at one of Vegas’ biggest properties (Paul Oakenfold owns Saturday’s for his Perfecto night) puts guys with records on par with the city’s comics and American Idol winners.The sign above my head was also occupied by the late DJ AM until his passing a few months ago. But Z-Trip is careful to avoid comparisons to a fellow spinner, especially as he brings his signature sound to the room the beloved AM occupied. Both DJs were selected to appear in the new DJ Hero game, and this night is just another chapter in the former Phoenix mixmaster’s steady rise to global notoriety. Recently named “America’s Best DJ” by a DJ Times magazine fan poll, Z-Trip’s rep—though not his humble demeanor—is looming as large as the Palms marquee.
Earlier in the night, at the bar at Nove, the Palm’s sprawling Italian restaurant high above the strip, Zach shares his goals for the night before hosting a dinner of friends, handlers and contemporaries. Besides bringing in a stellar roster of special guests — tonight it’s everybody’s favorite chain smoking hipster discoists MSTRKRFT — he says wants to “break through.” In Z-Trip terms, this means a healthy dose of sonic chemistry lessons, fusing alternative rock with dubby hip-hop instrumentals as easily as dropping a row of club bangers. And there’s always at least one record that tests the readiness of his audience. Tonight it’s a Aphrodite’s drum and bass remix of “Dopeman” by N.W.A. Forget any rigid musical tribalism, Z-Trip thrives on seemingly conflicting beats, knowing exactly how to highlight their rhythmic similarities in a perfectly executed mix.