Life is Beautiful, the annual music and arts festival that takes place on a grid of city blocks in downtown Las Vegas, opened following a year of absence due to Covid-19. And like many of the other live events that have resumed since the height of the pandemic, the festival was sold out and the party vibe was not just at the musical performances, but in the streets, throughout the city’s downtown casinos full of attendees taking advantage of the air conditioning and filling just about every open space across the festival grounds.
There may be few other large scale festivals that encapsulate the feeling that whatever it is you want your experience to be – over the top art displays, a curated lineup of more obscure musical talent across the pop, hip-hop, R&B and rock genres, hidden interactive installations in which visitors can learn to line dance in front of a live honky-tonk band or dance to a silent disco in the pulsating neon lights put up inside an underground parking structure, take cooking lessons from well-known comedians, see headlining acts in the midst of national stadium tours or dance to popup raves at abandoned hotels that are covered in new murals and outfitted as makeshift discos for the weekend – you’ll like find it somewhere. Think of it as a less hedonistic and debatably less commercial Burning Man for the college-age set.
Owing to its massive footprint that covers about 10 city blocks, the first day is usually spent walking around refamiliarizing one’s self with the lay of everything. For a lineup that frequently has multiple acts overlapping with one another on the schedule, this also means finding the alleyways and side streets to act as shortcuts between the various stages and venues.
Day 1 also is when everyone is fresh from their hotel rooms, often right off the plane, and have yet to feel the effects of a weekend in Vegas on you sleep schedule – and livers. Compliments toward other’s outfits flow wildly. Watching a band you like in the sun of a Las Vegas afternoon sounds like a doable task. Foot truck dining still sounds appealing.
Then festival opened with a meditation led by renowned Deepak Chopra. Musical highlights over the course of the day were solo avant rock singer Remi Wolf, whose onstage presence was a combination of Lizzo and Rage Against The Machine, Los Angeles-based electro pop trio Cannons, which seemed to draw a larger crowd in their appearance inside the stripped down and more intimate Toyota Music Den than their earlier set on the Downtown Stage, LANY and their catchy arena rock, and Megan Thee Stallion, which turned the Bacardi Stage area into a sweaty dance club in what was by far the most euphoric energetic set of the evening. Tame Impala brought the night to a close in a shower of confetti.
The most unfortunate aspect of the festival was the sheer volume of performances. It was impossible to catch everyone you wanted to see, let alone fit in time for seeing everything else going on at the grounds. But with Day 1 of Life Is Beautiful in the books, the challenge becomes trying to balance pacing yourself, with the after-parties and 24-hour options in Vegas.
For more images of this year’s festival, head to Life Is Beautiful’s socials: Instagram @lifeisbeautiful, Facebook @Life Is Beautiful Festival.