Life is Beautiful returned to downtown Las Vegas this month and provided a much-needed oasis for music and art lovers.
After a tumultuous year, music festivals have surely been missed. The joy they bring to people’s lives is irreplaceable and with some events put aside due to weather and other causes, there always seems to be a cloud of uncertainty looming over any fall festival. As September approached, Life is Beautiful and its producers continued to tweak things at the rear to make sure the weekend went off without a hitch despite a few changes from previous editions.
Of course, due to the pandemic, Life is Beautiful had to follow certain protocols to ensure that its participants would stay safe. Using CLEAR made it easy for them to verify proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours, and while this process went smoothly, I had a slight hiccup in getting the right bracelet. Unfortunately it made me miss Remi Wolf to the Bacardi stage, but I wasn’t going to let that slow down the rest of the weekend ahead.
Friday’s lineup featured a variety of amazing artists including Midnight Kids, Jamm Jam feat. Jacob Collier, Glass Animals, CloZee and Tame Impala.
I definitely took my steps on Friday because there was no shortage of music to see. The first set I really enjoyed was Midnight Children at Fremont Stadium. The giant hangar-like structure housed the majority of the electronic music over the weekend and Midnight Kids opened it up with an energetic and uplifting ensemble. Their electronic alt / indie music was the perfect way to warm up my dancing legs for the rest of the day. Throughout the set, they woven their own productions like “Monsters” and “Those Were The Days” which made the crowd vibrate and sing.
On the same stage later that day was Jamm Jam feat. Jacob Collier alongside a rotating troupe of musicians. I’ve probably never seen so much talent on a stage, as Jacob Collier has recruited artists like Haywyre, T-Pain, JoJo, Steve Vai, Justin Lee-Schultz, Sarah Thawer and Bryn Bliska to name a few. -a. As Jacob led the set, it was spectacular to see him in his element. He effortlessly went from piano to shredding drums, bass, tambourine, talkbox, and every other instrument on stage. He has an unprecedented mastery of music and it was a real treat to catch him and all the performers perform this show, probably once in a lifetime.
At sunset, my most anticipated sets of the weekend rose!
I was so excited for Glass animals and Taming Impala and they did not disappoint. Glass Animals adorned their stage with palm trees and a pool aesthetic while Tame Impala brought his psychedelic halo and artillery of lights and lasers. Glass Animals, led by their charismatic singer Wavey Davey, commanded the crowd and performed through much of their music catalog, including tracks from their latest album Dreamland as well as their beloved debut album ZABA.
Taming Impala, led by the brilliant Kevin Parker, closed the main stage on Friday with a set I’ll never forget. Thousands of fans gathered in front of the main stage while a friend and I enjoyed the show from the vendors in the back. Tame Impala has one of those dreamy backdrops that will put you in a trance, so sitting down was a nice feeling after a long day of harassment around the festival. The sound didn’t fade, however, as the festival producers tactically placed speakers in the crowd so that even though you were further away, you could still hear the music. They also had large LED screens on either side of the stage so you could see what was going on during the show.
One thing that the festival experience missed a lot was the poolside parties at the Downtown Grand.
Stay at Great city center the past two years has been such a great experience. It’s a hotel close enough to use the ins and outs of the festival and it’s right in the heart of Fremont Street, which puts you right in the middle of the party. In previous years, attendees could RSVP for free shows at the Downtown Grand Pool that were more intimate and at times crazier than the actual festival performances. Although the pool was open and a DJ was playing, the sets from the artists playing at the festival were definitely missing. I imagine pool parties will return when the world isn’t going through a pandemic yet.
Another thing that I really missed this year was the art gallery located next to the Fremont stage. It was the perfect place to take a nap in the midst of the madness, see tons of cool art up close and have a drink. This year they made it a Western Country Club and personally I’m not a big country fan. I could tell a lot of people were having fun, so maybe this was the right call to explore a new experience; However, in addition to the art installations scattered across the festival grounds, I wish there was more space dedicated to art.
Even the Art Motel, presented by Bacardi, was a bit lackluster. Bacardi essentially transformed the Art Motel into an influential bar and photo station; whereas, in years gone by, they had interactive rooms and larger-than-life installations by renowned artists like Bordalo. Previously you could get lost in the Art Motel for hours on end and this year the experience was much faster. Not to say that there was no stunning art on the walls, it was just that Bacardi’s sponsorship made it a bit more commercial and unappealing.
Sunday was the day I wandered around the festival with friends and walked into settings and experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.
The first thing we did was head over to The Kicker for a comedy that, in retrospect, wasn’t a good move. I ended up missing EVAN GIIA and LSDREAM, two of my best electronic artists to see this weekend, for Jackie Schimmel’s “The bible of whores. “I went partly to The Kicker because I thought it would be a short show, and I could sit down for a bit, but it ended up being a lot longer than I expected and not that funny. out of The Kicker, it was dark, and EVAN GIIA and LSDREAM were over because I could hear everyone talking about the quality of the sets. At festivals you have to experiment with new things and sometimes they’re good, and sometimes they’re good. do not do well.
After The Kicker, we headed over to the Bacardi stage to hit the bar and get some great spots for Sinner and A $ AP ROCKY. As much as I sometimes talk about Fisher, I also know he always puts on a fun show. He debuted with Chris Lake and Grimes’ unreleased song, “Love Is Just A Drug From God,” which is a certified banger and amplified the crowd well. He continued to perform through most of his catalog before finally ending his set with the famous hit “Losing It”.
I was torn if I wanted to stay for A $ AP ROCKY or try my luck at Billie Eilish. I have become a fan of Billie Eilish over the years, but I knew her audience would be crazy and decided to stay for A $ AP. Granted, I’m not a big fan of A $ AP and his set didn’t convince me either. It could also be partly due to my considerable lack of sleep and the low energy in my legs on Sunday evening. I was rather ready to call him halfway through the A $ AP set. It was fine with me though, and I feel like I had a successful weekend despite a few hiccups.
Ultimately, Life is Beautiful remains one of my favorite festivals because of the music, the Vegas vibe, and the people.
As one of the first major festivals after the pandemic, I congratulate Life is Beautiful for creating such a safe and enjoyable environment for the attendees. I understand that there is so much going on behind the scenes that when we, the participants, only enjoy the fruits of their labor, it is not something that comes naturally.
Festival producers were able to book fantastic multi-genre programming, bring new experiences to the streets of downtown Las Vegas, and give artists of all mediums a canvas to create and display their passion. La vie est belle will always hold a special place in my heart and share the experience with so many friends, old and new – it really makes me look forward to the next editions.
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