A local acrobat sheds light on what it takes to throw shows

Silence the Messenger plays Ultra Violet.
Photo: Fred Morledge
Max Plenke

Ultra Violet 4544 W. Russell Road #B, ticketfly.com/venue/9555-ultra-violet-studios.

Downhill from West Russell Road, nestled in a dark pocket of industrial beige, is one of the newest venues capable of but not exclusive to hosting all-ages music in the Valley. And that’s the least complicated way to describe what goes on at Ultra Violet.

In July of 2013, Stephanie Costello, a touring circus acrobat-turned-studio owner, began using her Ultra Violet Extreme Performance Art Center, a training facility for most things high-up and rope-hitched, as a place for bands to rehearse and perform. The space itself is colossal: three stories high, a cold cement floor that almost blurs in the distance, and silk ropes, swings and rings, all fastened to the ceiling—trade tools of high-flying circus performers. It’s also the home of the Start Up Foundation, Inc., a Nevada nonprofit supporting Las Vegas performance artists that is also owned by Costello. “I just want to give Las Vegas entertainers a place to train and work on their art,” Costello says. “But to do it you have to tip-toe through the tulips. Because those tulips are expensive.”

Here’s where it gets tricky. Tonight’s show is a fundraiser for the Start Up Foundation. The suggested donation goes toward providing equipment for artists, and renting out a facility for the fundraiser (in this case, Ultra Violet). Tickets can’t be sold, hence the donation. There are no concessions on the grounds. A sound system needs to be brought in specifically for the event. In other words, in order to throw events, one of Costello’s companies must buy out the other. Ultra Violet isn’t actually a music venue, but an open-format event space. The event is like a big, functional loophole—with a death metal soundtrack.

Outside the office, in front of the rumbling speakers, the audience isn’t aware of what has to happen for this to work. Everyone here is high school- and early college-aged, mixed in with band members’ parents, just coming out to support their scene. “This is our first show with our rhythm guitarist,” David Ralyea, singer for the local metal outfit Insomnia Effect, howls down at them, “and it’s his first show ever!” Las Vegas is so dismally devoid of venues at which new, all-age-demographic bands like Insomnia Effect can get real stage time. Ultra Violet (and the Start Up Foundation) is one of the few. And clearly, even calling it that is a stretch.

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