And then there was another.
This morning a group you could call the Monied Avengers — Rehan Choudry's Aurelian Marketing Group, Another Planet Entertainment, Joey Vanas' MAKTUB Marketing and the Downtown Project — announced the Life is Beautiful Festival, a two-day music/food/art festival downtown, aimed at bringing both big-ticket national bands as well as opening opportunities for local bands — feeling more like the resurrection of the fallen Vegoose — but bigger. Complementing the music program would be art exhibitions and substantial culinary offerings. No dates have been announced; the fest is slated for next fall, aiming to release headliner acts in late spring.
Choudry, spearheading the marketing and managerial roles, designing the venues and bringing in sponsors, used to be The Cosmopolitan's Director of Entertainment and Special Events, where he worked with Austin's C3 Presents to give that Strip property music cred. Another Planet Entertainment also produces Outside Lands (which is co-produced by SuperFly, the promoter behind Vegoose and Bonnaroo) and Treasure Island music fests in San Francisco; it will manage booking and stage production.
"We still don't know the touring bands' schedules," Choudry tells us. "But if you look at Outside Lands and Treasure Island [bands], we're going in that direction." (Hint: This year, those festivals booked the likes of Jack White, The XX, M83, Neil Young, Public Enemy, Beck and Santigold.)
Combine that with copilot Joey Vanas' success with First Friday — and his knack for creating stadium-style stages in dusty vacant lots north of Ogden, like he did with Punk Rock Bowling — and Downtown Project's already established momentum, and this could be the first few building blocks, or at least a shitload of foundation, for our own Austin City Limits or Coachella.
Which could mean trouble for our existing downtown festival. According to Jason Aragon, one of the organizers behind the bi-annual downtown indie music fest Neon Reverb, Life is Beautiful could be a deal-breaker for the 2008-established event. "If they announce September [dates] with the same business plan as ours, I'll probably stop working on this project," he says. "Especially if they're tapping into local bands and artists, which they already said they're gonna do."
Choudry insists a wash-out isn't the game plan. "We're never gonna lay on top of Neon Reverb," he says. "They've got the experience in this market. We want to support those guys and make sure they're gonna be as successful as they're gonna be. ... We're still finalizing but we'll stay away from [their] dates."
Ticket costs and attendance capacity are still up in the air (for the former, Choudry declined to say more than "affordable," referring to the prices of headliner shows at the Cosmopolitan as a comparable rubric, and with respect to the latter, wouldn't get any more specific than between 50 and 100 thousand). But even the vague predictions point big arrows: The Life is Beautiful Festival is swinging for the cheap seats.
This story has been updated.