18b mixes politcs and music, to music’s detriment

On an outdoor stage, on a tucked away side street, the 18b Music Festival gave local musicians a chance to shine amid a rally for education.

The Arts Factory was host to the festival May 14, organized by Mundana Ess-Haghabadi and Erik Amblad, as well as Arts Factory owner Wes Isbutt.

“We wanted to highlight education at this festival, because in the face of the steep budget cuts proposed by the governor, we hoped to give a voice to how integral education is to a thriving community,” Amblad said.

“We drew over a thousand people to the 18b Arts District. Especially on a day with the Helldorado Parade and UNLV graduation, that’s a tremendous turnout. Our goal is to get bigger and better with each festival. We’ve more than doubled attendance each time we’ve done the festival.”

While the number of people grew throughout the day, the rally itself had a turnout of what looked to be 80 or so people, and while support for the cause was there, it left much to be desired. Speakers rambled on and cast too wide a net with their diatribes. One orator discussed old students of his in another state, finding his “teacher’s voice” and controversial education public figure Michelle Rhee, who he claimed has the governor’s ear.

Best of all, the gentleman discussed how bad things were going to be for his daughters when the children reached high school, how they weren’t going to have necessary programs and how awful their education would be. Did I mention that his kids were in the audience as he spoke? This would have been a good time to specifically stay on message – budget cuts bad, education good, let’s fix.

As for the entertainment, the body painting was as intricate as any I’ve seen in this city, courtesy of Three Bad Sheep (Eddie Canumay, Sky Carranza, Alexander P. Huerta), Bernie Foss and Christal Solis.

Local bands including A Crowd of Small Adventures and The Clydesdale played to larger crowds as people filled in.

“One of the basic tenets of the festival is to give a platform to the talented, original artists in our city. The number one priority is to let musicians and artists showcase their work, and to make sure they get paid. In this city, for too long we’ve given priority to paying Strip performers—as well they should—while ignoring the contributions of artists in our larger community. We want to help see that change,” Amblad said. “The underlying theme of each music festival has always been about the celebration of arts community in our city. To us, it’s no longer about simply bringing culture to Las Vegas; it’s about bringing Vegas to the culture that is already here.”