Updated May 15, 2023 - 12:31 pm
The biggest headliner since the days the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and The Doors played the Ice Palace is coming to the Historic Commercial Center.
Superstar EDM artist Deadmau5 is heading “The Fabulous Commercial Center Block Party” Thursday at the fabled entertainment and hospitality annex on East Sahara Avenue.
Las Vegas favorites Nina DiGregorio’s Bella Strings and rocking Vegas native Franky Perez are also scheduled to perform the free-admission event. The party will spill across three stages in the Commercial Center parking lot, being converted to a festival grounds for the shindig.
Gates open at 6 p.m. Bella Strings perform at 7 p.m., followed by Perez at 8 p.m. and Deadmau5 at 9 p.m. Though there is no cover charge, tickets are required, limited to two tickets per email address beginning at 10 a.m. Monday Pacific time. Go to ClarkCountyNV.gov/fabulous23 for tickets; availability (naturally) is limited.
A crowd of 10,000 is expected. Organizers are advising to ride share in and out. Parking at Commercial Center and surrounding business (again, naturally) is limited.
In addition to music touching on multiple genres, several Burning Man-scaled art pieces will be set up. Among those are El Pulpo Mecanico, a 35-foot-tall mechanical octopus (which is the original version of the El Pulpo Magnifico metal beast that appeared for two weeks at Resorts World’s Transfix attraction).
El Pulpo belches fire from eight limbs, a popular feature for years at Burning Man. El Puloo is brought to the dance by Joshua Levine of Fired Up Management, the event’s art curator who is also curator for Area15.
The point of the event, other than to have a good time, is to throw a message across the bow that Commercial Center is welcoming investors. The effort coincides with the renaming of Karen Avenue, which runs on the south side of Commercial Center, to Liberace Avenue.
The county is enacting a widespread gentrification effort to create an arts colony that would take up about 60 acres in the larger South of Sahara Avenue District. At 120 acres total, SOSA, as the county refers to that entire property, is bordered by Sahara Avenue, Maryland Parkway, Liberace Avenue and Joe W. Brown Drive.
County Commissioner Tick Segerblom says the party is to mark the “the reemergence of an area that for decades was considered to be the very center of Las Vegas life.”
The commissioner, who is well-known for issuing the commemorative Key to the Las Vegas Strip, says, “It kicks off an initiative to bring excitement and the arts back to the larger South of Sahara Avenue District.”
Deadmau5’s appearance is made possible in a one-off partnership between Clark County and events company Insomniac, bringing Electric Daisy Carnival to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. The UNLV College of Fine Arts, Fired Up Management, and the Historic Commercial Center Association and its merchants.
Along with Levine, the redevelopment project is also helmed by architect Robert Gurdison and Tom Michel, ex-owner of the Vegas and Nevada Rooms at Commercial Center and a veteran entertainment marketing exec. All pulled together over the past month or so to arrange the civic event.
Suffice to say, Commercial Center has not seen such a large-scale event since opening in 1963.
Deadmau5 is a top-line nightclub draw on the Strip, scheduled to appear Friday night at Zouk Nightclub at Resorts World (where he has been a resident headliner) during EDC Week. The EDM artist was also a headliner last year’s EDC event.
Deadmau5 has also appeared off-Strip before, at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center in May 2021 during the early stages of the pandemic reopening.
Seeing the EDM stalwart perform for free is a rare opportunity. So is an outdoor festival at Commercial Center.
The annex is known, among other reasons, as the home of the Ice Palace, which staged top rock acts in the late 1960s. The above-mentioned bands drew attention to the parcel.
Over the years, Commercial Center has improved incrementally, with the entertainment venue Coop’s Cabaret & Hot Spot opening where The Nevada Room ran for several months before closing. Irena Damianova’s Balkan Bar & Grill opened during the pandemic, in February 2021. Crystal Banquet Hall opened in October 2019.
Vickie’s Diner, late of White Cross Drugs, also has opened over the past couple of years in the Commercial Center.
Look for more significant investment. In the plans is Arty’s Gallery Steakhouse, moving into the spot next door to the Cue Club. That haunt is the oldest operating business at Commercial Center. For decades it was the city’s largest pool hall, before downsizing in 2020.
The envisioned nightspot is operated by Derek Stonebarger’s Epic Taverns, owners of Rebar in the Arts District. Arty’s plans include a main bar and dining area, coffee bar, special event room and performance stage.
This is a crucial moment for the Commercial Center, entering its 60th anniversary — and expect another party later this year. A couple of decades ago, a prominent elected official dubbed the area as “urban blight.” Even locals who didn’t readily know the specific definition of “blight” said, “Yeah, that’s about right.”
This was especially true at night. The apartments to the west of Commercial Center are referred at the county as Sherwood Forest, dangerous especially after dark.
But now, officials are bent on cleaning up the area, throwing support and resources at the parcel. County Commissioner Ross Miller, the son of ex-Gov. Bob Miller was instrumental in the event planning.
Miller says the party will be exciting and a lot of fun, but notes there is more on the line. The native Las Vegan says, “This is also part of a larger effort to focus the community’s attention on the area so that we can grow it together.”
Cool Hang Alert
On the topic of multigenerational Vegas institutions, the great impressionist and Frank Sinatra actor Bob Anderson is back at the Italian American Club Showroom this week.
For a taste of vintage Vegas, hit the club at 6:30 p.m. (buffet dinner) and 8 p.m. (show) Wednesday and Thursday. We were along for the ride when Anderson took his orchestral Sinatra show to Carnegie Hall in December 2021. That was a time, cats.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.