After months of speculation, Life Is Beautiful’s local-music program finally revealed its specifics on Saturday, when bands and festival-goers got their first look at the stages set aside for the 15-plus participating Vegas-based bands.
Most played (or will play today) on the Homegrown Stage, constructed atop the City Center Motel’s interior parking lot at the corner of 7th and Fremont. To those walking along Fremont, the stage is barely visible, hidden by the black curtains of a pop-up blackjack tent sponsored by the D. But along 7th, the Homegrown area is open and inviting, buttressed by three interactive installations: a brick-painting craft station, an array of paint-pellet guns and a swimming pool filled with radio-controlled boats.
Throughout the day, Vegas bands met with varied degrees of success drawing and holding onto crowds. Despite playing in peak heat/sun (and losing control over its Farfisa organ in the process), Same Sex Mary fared well, performing to a large throng and likely winning new fans with its groovy, “Nuggets”-era songbook. GoldBoot’s dancey production, which felt out of place in the light of day, was met more indifferently by passers-by. And heavy-rock five-piece Crazy Chief played to a sparse gathering, despite going on just as another bluesy outfit, Alabama Shakes, finished nearby.
When several Vegas bands were chosen for the Red Bull Sound Select Stage last month, it was promoted as an honor, with discernible benefits. After one day of LIB, it’s debatable whether playing the Red Bull stage was actually preferable to winding up on the Homegrown. Food and drink vending and a batch of ATMs aside, the Red Bull area has no ancillary draws like the Homegrown’s, and though the Red Bull crowd area is more open and inviting to foot traffic, it’s only accessible along one street (Fremont). Most importantly, sound seemed shaky for Rhyme N Rhythm’s Red Bull set, with the veteran Vegas hip-hop crew’s four MCs battling mic issues throughout the performance. Still, RNR’s good-time vibe drew an expectedly solid audience in the late afternoon.