Downtown Freakout! a celebration of all forms of art

Something is brewing in the Arts District of downtown Las Vegas.

It is an event of unparalleled originality, a coming together of art forms both common and bizarre, and a possible godsend for anyone hoping for a revitalization of downtown.

The event has been dubbed Freakout!, a celebration of all forms of art, from music to interpretive dance to live painting to forms of expression that some might consider blasphemous.

In a single evening, an art enthusiast can experience a showing of photography, the sounds of numerous bands, experimental films, sword swallowing and more.

Freakout! is a concoction of four young Las Vegas minds. Jason Sturtsman and Aaron Thompson, two show promoters and creators of and, collaborated with two Las Vegas artists, Wyatt McKenzie and Dillon Gulk, in hopes of creating “something of worth in this living, breathing trash can we call Las Vegas,” as McKenzie so delicately put it.

The initial inspiration behind the event was to aid in the downtown revitalization of the Arts District and to help promote local artists. “After First Friday, there are 29 other days in the month for people to come support the local music and arts scene downtown,” Sturtsman says.

The creators of Freakout! also aimed to put together an event that would dissolve the boundary line between artist and audience. It is a “social experiment,” Sturtsman says, a show that is an event unto itself that breaks the typical format of a concert or art show. Each show incorporates as many forms of art into the lineup as possible and aims to bring the audience into a direct experience with the art that is being presented. It’s not uncommon for members of the audience to be brought onstage to dance or take part in certain acts.

One regular act of the Freakout! event is Swing Shift Side Show, a Nevada-based sideshow whose acts consist of sword swallowing, fire breathing, eye-socket weight lifting, that’s right, weight lifting with one’s eye sockets, and certain stunts that might be illegal in some states.

But if physical anomalies aren’t your cup of tea, don’t fret, Freakout! has no shortage of visual art or music. Some of the musical acts include Justin Mather, a folky/bluesy singer-songwriter, VavOhm, an indie/psychedelic rock band, and Lit Community Consciousness, a collaboration of musicians, DJs and dancers whose act consists of symbolic interpretive dance.

And for all you visual art lovers, paintings and photography always are on display, as well as live painting compliments of local Las Vegas artist Mike Biggs, a First Friday regular and visual art innovator.

Freakout! will be held every two months at the Box Office, 1129 S. Casino Center Blvd., in the Arts District. The next Freakout! is 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission for the age 18 and older event is $10 at the door.

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