Day two kicked off with a set from LA’s latest buzz band, Haim, whose debut album, Days are Gone, has been the toast of the music blogosphere. The Haim sisters’ signature indie-folk sound fit perfectly with the surprisingly mild Vegas sun.
I continued the theme of girl power with an electrifying set from Janelle Monáe, who lit up the stage with her smooth vocals, frenetic-yet-undeniably-sexy dance moves, and an absurd amount of contagious enthusiasm. She barreled through “Dance Apocalyptic” with unapologetic force, seduced the audience with “Q.U.E.E.N” (sans Erykah Badu), and launched into a Jackson 5 cover thoroughly showcasing her command of the Ambassador stage.
TL;DR Lesley Park has a major girl crush on Miss Monáe.
Up next was Passion Pit, who always manages to pull off poppy, uplifting sets despite having pretty damn depressive lyrics. I followed them up with the melodic electronic sound of STS9, who has now shot up significantly on my music radar. Playing their tantalizingly smooth beats with live instrumentation, STS9′s set was as delicious as the deep fried Oreos I wolfed down afterward (where have these been all my life?!)
After catching a bit of Vampire Weekend‘s set, I hung around the Downtown stage for the festival’s grand finale, Las Vegas-natives The Killers, who were welcomed on stage with the same fanfare 15-year-old girls reserve for Justin Bieber.
Appropriately taking their places to “Luck Be A Lady,” The Killers opened with “Mr. Brightside,” every verse of which was faithfully sung back by the audience before the group launched into “Spaceman” to the delight of everyone around me. Really, everything the band did was undeniably well-received by their adoring hometown crowd, but for me personally, the absolute highlight of the set was their cover of Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” which led into the single that put the Nevadans on the map, “Somebody Told Me,” during which the crowd went ballistic.
My overall assessment of Life is Beautiful in its inaugural year: they hit that ball way out of the park. Seriously. A roided-out Barry Bonds using Thor’s hammer as a bat couldn’t have hit it any farther. Logistics were incredibly smooth, event staff was friendly and helpful, and the location was phenomenal, showcasing the bizarro wonderland that is downtown Las Vegas beautifully. All of the elements of the festival itself, from food plating to sound at the stages, worked seamlessly with one another and were completely devoid of the catastrophes that tend to plague virgin festivals.
When you mix the distinct downtown Vegas vibe with some awesome music and absurdly incredible eats that I am currently paying heavily for in the form of squats and TRX torture, you get something that is, quite frankly, beautiful. Would I go back next year? In a fucking heartbeat, and you should too. Life is Beautiful was undoubtedly a highlight of my entire 2013.
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