Hey, look! We highlighted Andrew Donner in our Influence list in the latest issue. He's the head of Resort Gaming Group, which, among other things, helps do the real estate wheeling and dealing for The Downtown Project in its ongoing llamafication plans for downtown. Now Donner's got a new influencey title to add to his resume: CEO of the Life Is Beautiful festival. (Eve Cohen was also named managing director.) Why? Today on the official website, the release has festival founder Rehan Choudhry saying:
“After the overwhelming success of the Life Is Beautiful Festival’s first year, we knew we had an opportunity to become even stronger internally,” said Choudhry, Life is Beautiful’s Founder & Partner. “With Andrew and Eve we have found the perfect additions to our organizational core that will be essential to the festival’s growth for years to come.”
What does it mean? Our internal Magic 8 Ball says: "Cannot predict now." We've heard some muttering that it means the festival did better than expected and, whoa, let's get Rehan some help here. But it certainly suggests that Choudhry and Co. are heartened enough by the success of the inaugural bash to see that it's got some legs -- not just enough legs for another festival -- that seems a given now -- but maybe next-level mothership megacorporate brand platform business synergy type stuff.
Which is fine, I guess. After having a blast at Neon Reverb several years in a row -- sweaty, loud, rootsy, real, if somewhat sparsely attended -- I went to the inaugural L.I.B. festival with my brain somewhat sensitized to its aggressively slick brandiness and big-box sensibility, in the way you'd be wary of a shiny megamall that popped up overnight. You know, the catchall suspicion described by the word "corporate." You kind of go in wondering whether such a fact is going to pre-suck the pulse out of that strange tribal magic that occurs at massively attended live music events — the spontaneity, the grit, the sweat, the contact highs, the whooping of those enviably blissy hippie/stoner/raver hybrid people who seem to emerge from their couches only when there's a music festival. There was, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, plenty of that at L.I.B., and, thankgawd, none of that creepy Downtown Rangerness/"spirit of downtown" mental regimentalism that can sometimes make you increasingly ask whether Fremont Street is a public street or private club. So, to invoke the 8-Ball again, outlook good, but for this year they should also consider bookending the roster of musical crowdpleasers with a really musically challenging side-side stage featuring some truly adventurous bands. The 8-Ball says, "Hellyeah!"