Riotous girl punk, drunken country and electro-pop are just some of the sounds that will christen the Downtown sculpture park’s First Friday inaugural 18b Music Festival, a battle of the bands with the greater goal of putting art in the art-less park.
While it awaits its proposed $1 million contemporary sculpture, the empty Boulder Plaza will serve as an ad hoc venue. Local musicians will contribute their talents to the space, lit up like a neon-and-concrete holodeck in the urban landscape of the 18-block downtown Arts District.
“We’ve got five incredible talents from the Las Vegas music scene,” says Erik Amblad, Born and Raised Productions co-founder (brnrsd.com). “It covers the entire spectrum of musical style.”
That means music seldom heard on the same billing: punk rockers Dirty Panties, electro-pop duo Kid Meets Cougar, indie-rock Mother McKenzie, hard rockers Formality and NYC hypno-groovers Interzone.
“Metaphorically what we’re doing is a living, moving sculpture piece that celebrates music,” says Amblad, who produces concerts with fellow Las Vegan Mundana Ess-Haghabadi. “We’re hoping we can boost the profile of the sculpture park as a great destination in the 18b Arts District.”
Organizers hope to continue the festival every quarter with help from Solotech, which is providing staging, lighting and sound. Proceeds will go to placing art inside the city park, which was completed in March with $1 million from Bureau of Land Management.
The nonprofit Las Vegas Sculpture Park Association has raised about $80,000 for the $1 million optical and kinetic sculpture by Israeli Yaacov Agam. It’s planned to be a spectacle of three dozen 18-foot-tall hexagon pillars with different images so the view changes upon perspective. But it’s been more than five years since the association first contacted Agam, and only the 3-foot-square model has been completed. Association President Wes Myles says if they don’t get a contract that fits the association’s budget by late July, they will seek other artists.
“I want to see local, national and international sculptures in there by the end of the year,” says Myles, who owns the Arts Factory. “I want to get it in there instead of looking at this empty thing every night.”
He admits Agam’s price may be too high for downtown. The octogenarian’s art is found in cultural hubs such as Paris and Tel Aviv, and money isn’t flowing as freely in Vegas these days. “We’re still standing down here.” Myles puts his hand near the ground. “And we need a step that we can get to.”