Sin City is but a jungle of lights. Everywhere you go lies the opportunity to drink openly, live freely, and party without fear of judgment.
In Las Vegas, life is indeed very, very beautiful. How many times have you read THAT headline? During its 6th edition, the iconic Life Is Beautiful festival drew tens of thousands of music, art, and culinary fans to the streets of downtown. There was not a dull moment at any point in time. Traveling from the house stage to the downtown stage? No problem, weave in and out of neon alleyways, admire awe-inspiring murals, or take a pit stop for an utterly strong vodka mule. I can attest to this as several bartenders would whisper “oops” after pouring me a cup of vodka with a hint of ice and a splash of ginger beer. Cheers!
From the perspective of a second timer, this year’s festival blew it’s first installment out of the water. As a senior in college on the brink of festival obsession, I skipped off to Downtown Las Vegas for what I thought would be a Coachella-like experience. I was sadly mistaken, in the best way possible. After chugging gin (0/10 would recommend) and sneaking into casinos before gates opened, I encountered three days of pure bliss. In its first year, Life Is Beautiful brought some of the best live performances I’ve seen to date. As a music journalist, I don’t throw that around lightly. To name a few, Purity Ring, Childish Gambino, Kings of Leon, The Killers, Alabama Shakes… impressed yet?
Friday. Day One. Chvrches takes the stage. Lauren Mayberry’s voice is striking. I’ve seen the synthetic group a handful of times and I have no problem admitting that I’ve been so enamored by her voice that I can’t pick my stupid jaw up off the floor.
Next up was Justice, who brought high energy and an impressive set. The visuals were unique and vibrant, with several lit-up boxes scattered throughout the stage and an LED backscreen. Think space-age Transformers on steroids.
After feeling inspired by Justice’s set, we hopped over to the Fremont stage to finish out the evening. Two words. RL GRIME. I’ve been fond of RL (real name Henry) for quite some time now, but few album drops compare to NOVA. The melodic array of heavy-hitters and soft, emotional tracks is unique for an EDM-favorite who’s reputation remains within the world of electronic music. His collaborations with some of pop’s most talented singers, like Miguel and Daya, prove he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. His set was nothing short of incredible, featuring pyrotechnics galore.
After an overwhelmingly positive first day, my expectations were high and my feet were sore. Brasstracks was there to take the pain away. There’s something about a man playing the saxophone that’s really quite breathtaking. The NYC-based duo blends the perfect mix of jazz and hip-hop, bringing a unique flair to an over-saturated genre. Their music is unlike anything I’ve heard before, which is precisely why I will continue forking out my hard earned dollars to see them live. As for their Life Is Beautiful set, their rendition of Destiny Child’s “Say My Name” certainly stole the show.
Chet Porter took the stage after Brasstracks for what would be a tumultuous 45 minutes. What I’m about to say has absolutely nothing to do with Chet as an artist and everything to do with the fact that the festival was utterly unprepared for the scorching temperatures. Not one, not two, but THREE TIMES we heard the music come to a halting stop. His Macbook Pro wasn’t feelin’ it, apparently. The Toronto-native artist overcame and gave the crowd an unstoppable show. His “Love Is Alive” remix had everyone dancing like it was their last day on earth.
As the day turned to night, we ventured into what would be a very, very long stint at the (you guessed it) Fremont Stage! At this point, we should have pitched a tent and marked our territory. Party Favor and Flight Facilities both brought their A-game and delivered upbeat and enjoyable sets.
For those of you still reading, we’ve made it to day three. It’s honestly a miracle that some live to tell the tale by the third or fourth day of a festival. The body aches are REAL. However, there won’t be a time in my life when I won’t push through to see the one, the only, ODESZA. *cue the sounds of heaven*
We aren’t there yet, but trust me, we’ll get there. We took a break from the fist-pumping jams to watch Mt. Joy belt it out for a solid performance. Watching “Silver Lining” right in front of our eyes was just as magical as one would expect.
Before it was time to bawl our eyes out at ODESZA, Bastille made it clear why they’re a front-runner in the music industry. Lead vocalist Dan Smith brought an energy that made the crowd feel genuinely glad about the $400+ they spent on a festival ticket. The group opened with “Good Grief” and it was all up from there. Dan’s chops were on par, as per usual, as he jumped around the stage and interacted with the audience.
The next installment of this article deserves an article in its own right. ODESZA closed out the weekend with equal parts beauty, theatrics, and excitement fit for the Vegas setting. Seeing them is less of a show and more of an experience. Save for a rogue firework to the face, the only problem we see with their set is that it isn’t 2-4 hours longer. On the heels of their official release of “Loyal”, they made sure to play it and others that left our necks a little sore the next day. How can you not move to “Late Night”? Lastly, if you could dry your eyes in time after “Across the Room”, they shut it down with an aforementioned firework show on top of crowd favorites “Sun Models” and “It’s Only”.
If we had to rate Life Is Beautiful on a scale of 1 to 10, we’d give a soft 12.5.
*Photos taken from Life Is Beautiful Facebook page.