Published: November 7, 2013
Photos by: Brittany Rogy & Charles Walker
Review by: Charles Walker
The inaugural Life Is Beautiful Festival and its 15-block footprint covered the streets of downtown Las Vegas at the end of last month welcoming music, food, art, and education seekers to the ambitious two-day festival. We drove across the desert from LA to Sin City for the festivities and walked away with sore feet and an overall positive experience.
The scene was interactive and playful as organizers and attendees alike continuously deemed it a success throughout the weekend. The crowds allowed for plenty of room to dance, sing, and the ability to get to where you wanted to be. The artists were upbeat and happy to be at Life Is Beautiful performing under the hot Vegas sun or the cool evening breeze.
Though there was no mau5 head to be found, and a festival bill that wasn’t stacked with heavy-hitting electronic music acts – LIB undoubtedly still delivered on the front of eclectic, bass-heavy, electro goods. In my humble opinion, here are just some of the top musical highlights that helped steal my Life Is Beautiful Festival virginity.
Saturday Highlights (in order as they transpired):
Poolside – Didn’t matter if it was the heat of the day, the coolness of the night, or the wee hours of the morning. You had every chance to catch Poolside, the project of LA-based musicians Filip Nikolic and Jeffrey Paradise that has evolved into a full blown genre of it’s own, aptly named “daytime disco”. And they laid down plenty of it, especially tracks off their album, Pacific Standard Time.
RNR – The Las Vegas hip-hop scene was in full effect on the Red Bull Sound Select Tour Bus stage when the 8-pieces of RNR bumped their indefinable sounds and genre boundary-breaking beats. The 4 MCs, mixed with bass, drums, and keys took Vegas up to the next level. Rhyme N Rhythm is pure hip-hop at the core, and they infuse so much more.
Purity Ring – This Canadian futurepop duo commanded the Ambassador stage and demanded the attention of us while their live performance was captivating. For just under an hour, the innovations that were witnessed proved that Corin Roddick and Megan James have successfully turned a studio project into a real band and powerful live experience that transcends the pitfalls sometimes associated with live electronic-heavy music.
Joey Bada$$ - Being lured in by the appeal of a small crowd and thumps of bass, I found myself at the Red Bull Sound Select Tour Bus for what was a high energy, refreshing set of hip hop from the Brooklyn youngster, Joey Bada$$. Throughout his set, the crowd grew thicker, beads of sweat emanated from Joey’s pores, and by the end – everybody that caught this set had a seemingly similar appreciation for his brand of hip-hop.
Pretty Lights – Saturday concluded with a rowdy, precise set that was flooded with energy, vibrant lights, and lazers as Pretty Lights had the pulsating sea of people getting down to throwback pleasers like “More Important Than Michael Jordan” and “Finally Moving.” This was right before Derek Vincent Smith himself jumped on the mic and encouraged all to “Use your fucking diaphragm Las Vegas!”
Robert DeLong – Robert DeLong was a force to be reckoned with on Sunday. As the LA-based multi-instrumentalist played three sets of all different capacities and styles, DeLong showcased his abilities as a genre-bending musician, and we took note and caught all sets. From his highly energized daytime vibe on the Huntridge Stage where he used MDI interfaces, a full drum set, drum pads, keyboards, a laptop and game controllers - to his stripped down acoustic evening set at the Toyota FILTER Sessions, and finally concluding with his live DJ set at the Art of Beer Draught Pavilion. Dude had everything working to his advantage.
Jurassic 5 – Back to their ‘Playground Antics’, J5 was in Las Vegas for the first time in 7 years. Their conjugated verbs were no joke, and they were clearly having fun spittin’ rhymes and clowning fans of The Killers who weren’t feelin’ the vibe. This heady 6-piece is 4 MC’s and they sound like 1. Their staple tracks like “In The Flesh”, “Jayou”, and “Radio” shook our rumps and brought smiles over my ears. This set saw the Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark incredibly on-point with their stylistic, scratchy beats, massive turntable, and playful presence. “It’s the brother’s on the mic in the place to be, it’s the J-U-R-A --double S-- I-C.” Enough said.
STS9 – One show not to miss at LiB was the hour-long journey orchestrated by the musicians and sounds of Atlanta-based instrumental electronic rock group STS9. This spectacle took place on the Ambassador Stage and showcased a unique adventure in sound and vision. The set opened with “Kabuki” and rolled right into “Golden Gate” and “Scheme,” both off the 2011 EP When the Dust Settles, before closing with the title track to a heartfelt ovation from the encore-wanting fans.
Zedd – Catchy. Flashy. Composed. Packed. These all describe different instances from the Zedd set that was well attended by festivalgoers. The Ambassador stage was a perfect fit for the explosive performance from the German producer as he showcased his pulsating, glitch-heavy production.
Big Gigantic – From hip-hop to dubstep, house to funk, and so much in between, Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken brought the heat when they took the Huntridge Stage. Whether it was Big G’s remix of “Swing” by Savage, the remix of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us,” or their self-made improvisational, futuristic, drum & sax-heavy jams like “Sky High,” “It’s Goin’ Down,” and “Nocturnal” – one thing was certain. The crowd was feeling it. Then, fittingly enough, Big G pulls through with their “I Need A Dollar” remix as my weekend at Life Is Beautiful was drawing to a close.
Leaving Vegas to head back to LA, I could have used a couple dollars myself. Nobody ever said a weekend in Vegas was cheap. But would I do it all again? Absolutely. And what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. After attending LIB, I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it!
LivetronicaBreaksDowntempoDrum and BassDubstepElectroGlitchHip HopHouse