Life is Beautiful Festival – Food, Art, Learning + Music in Downtown Las Vegas.
Festivals come and go, and though it may seem like the market is saturated there are still newcomers pushing through, making sense, and creating something with staying power. Now in its 3rd year, Life is Beautiful (September 25 -27) combines a truly sensory experience across food, art, learning + music to connect with a diverse audience as it stretches across 18 city blocks. Great curation meets excellent programming under the heat of the desert skies. Read more about the entire event on our blog, What About the Space.
The app was a welcome tool to have on site, as it allowed users to organize your schedule across all food/music/learning events and create a calendar. The best part? Push notifications 15 mins. before my scheduled acts were about to go on stage. I didn’t miss a thing. BOOM!
Musically speaking, the soundscape of this 3 day event was layered with indie rock, dance music, hip-hop, and basically any genre-bending crossover stuff you can dream up…from Hozier, to Dan Deacon, BØRNS to Run the Jewels, Future Islands to Best Coast, to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
One of my personal favorites was British duo Royal Blood. Hard, heavy, and seriously raw. I first saw these guys at SXSW 2 years ago and the grittiness is still intact. I can’t help but think of them as some sort of Soundgarden meets Rage Against the Machine à la Black Sabbath hybrid. You get the picture.
Future Islands stole my heart with their first-ever TV performance on Letterman and I was lucky enough to see them live for the first time at House of Vans last summer. Their show at L.I.B. was full of that deepness, raw emotion and heartfulness. Their seriousness is genuine and still one of the best bands I’ve seen perform in the past few years.
When it comes to headliners, the man that took the cake? Stevie Wonder. Seriously. MIND. BLOWN. This legend has been on stage for more than 50 years and knows how to perform. Non-stop on the mic, one instrument to the next. So many hits flowing from one to the other, inspirational, to say the least. Two hours + ten minutes to be exact—featuring everything from “Master Blaster” to “Overjoyed” to “Send One Your Love.”
My inner 80’s child had a real sing-along session when Duran Duran took to stage and laid out “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Notorious” and of course, “Girls on Film.” I mean…I close my eyes and I can see their pages torn from Tiger Beat on my walls as a kid – and lemme say…they’ve still got it, ya’ll.
And of course, Vegas hometown heroes Imagine Dragons blew the stage up on Saturday. Clearly inspired by the power of the supermoon that night and paying respects on the mic to a list of local friends, family, record shops and radio that have supported them since way back in the day.
Back in 1994, I co-produced a show called Middle School TV in which I may or may not have been involved in filming + dubbing a faux-library-book-stealing-scene to the “Undone” (The Sweater Song). The Weezer “Blue Album” was an instant classic, and yes, they still are amazing. A-to-the-Men! That, and they’ve been puttin’ out tunes since the 90’s and still have millennials singing along in the crowd. Way to crossover, guys!
To their credit, Life is Beautiful made sure to highlight plenty of up + coming talent (especially artists from the city of Las Vegas) at the Downtown Container Park on Fremont Street and also as opener acts on various stages. I’d like to highlight a few of my personal favs with some video show + tell.
Andra Day – What an amazing old-soul. I’ll just quote NPR’s, Katie Presley, “Eartha Kitt’s unflappable confidence, Amy Winehouse’s effortless grasp of classic jazz, Billie Holiday’s access to raw emotion and Adele’s range and pop sensibility.” Check her out on YouTube >
GRiZ – Seriously. Get out to see this guy. He’s a DJ and electronic producer that plays the saxophone along with producing funk, electro-soul-type stuff. Watch the teaser to see the INSANE amount of musicians he collaborated with on his new album. Check him out on YouTube >