Las Vegas may be known for the home of Insomniac’s EDC but we recently found a new reason to love the city. Life Is Beautiful takes place in the heart of downtown Las Vegas and it completely redefined the way viewed Vegas.
For any tourist you might guess that Las Vegas is centered around the strip but just north of that is the old Las Vegas, a collection of casinos, hotels, and nightlife stripped of the cliché glamour that the strip is known for. Here in downtown we found a new love appreciating the beauty of dive bars, casinos, and great food, it was almost as if we discovered a new form of the Vegas and this all happened on our way into Life Is Beautiful.
Fremont Street was the beautiful strip of nightlife that led up to the festival gates. It was the perfect pregame and an even better afterparty. I think it is rare to have almost just as much fun outside of a music festival as you would have inside but for Life Is Beautiful this was definitely the case.
Venturing inside the festival was only a reiteration of the surrounding landscape. There were old bars, alleys, parking structures, hotels, and murals everywhere within the festival ground. It felt as if we weren’t even inside a festival but just a block party running across 6 blocks throughout downtown Las Vegas. Within the grounds we found a ton of spacious music stages surrounded by art installations, vendors, and a number of areas that we were able to explore through our ventures around the festival.
It is one thing to present art for viewing but it is even better when that art is open for exploration and play. Zappos is an online shoe merchandising company based in Las Vegas so aside from sponsoring the festival they actually created a pit of butterfly decorated swings where attendees could hop on and play along to the trippy lights and music.
Walking around the event we noticed several art pieces from Burning Man that were extremely entertaining. The best had to be this giant preying mantis that randomly shot fire out of its mouth, a terrifying experience if you did not see it coming.
Virtual reality was another form of art here at the event. We stumbled upon a VR photobooth that placed our group of friends in the middle of some flamingos for a live video which we could immediately share on social media.
By far the most amazing piece hosted here was Meow Wolf. This art collective from Santa Fe New Mexico put a dent in LIB by creating what they call "The Art Motel". This motel was a Vegas-style motor lodge that contained 21 rooms of psychedelic exploration. It was a playhouse of interactive artistic pieces that was extremely easy to get lost in if you happened to wonder on inside. Easily one of the best things we've seen at any festival ever.
The entire landscape of Life Is Beautiful was spacious with foot traffic being almost unheard of at any part of the festival. This was such a big deal seeing as we are so used to overcrowded music festivals in the city. Even some of the headliners like Chance The Rapper and Muse had such a spacious audience it was hard to believe that we could get a clear sight of them without being crammed like sardines.
As for music selection Life Is Beautiful obviously drew a desirable amount of big named acts to lineup each night including throwbacks like Sean Paul as well as EDM megastars like Kaskade. Even though we had fun jamming to Zhu’s live show and the indie rockers MGMT, our favorite sets were enjoyed at the Burning Man art cars known as Kalliope and Forest House. These places had amazing lighting and sound with a much more unique artistic edge to the stage design than the rest of the typical festival stages. Not to mention Collective Zoo hosted one of the dankest house lineups on Forest House which included Dr. Fresch, Ekali, and Sly Turner. Space Yacht did their part to bring the always bumpin’ lineup out for their Kalliope takeover including Sinden, NuKid, Noise Frenzy, LondonBridge, and more.
Overall we had expected a decent festival but walked out of Life Is Beautiful telling ourselves that this was easily one of the best music festival experiences. From start to finish as well as the afterparties made it an absolutely insane experience that we would recommend to anyone interested in getting a slice of Las Vegas outside of the norm.