Fine Art

Life Is Beautiful: The good, the weird and the ugly

Life Is Beautiful drew thousands to Downtown Las Vegas for its first day on October 26, 2013.
Photo: Fred Morledge


•The sound at the Ambassador (second) Stage, rich and enveloping throughout Day 1, much more so than the Downtown (main) Stage. Update: Downtown Stage got better on Sunday, and the Ambassador wasn't as consistent on Day 2 (see: Janelle Monáe).

•The Culinary Village may finally make food snobs out of ordinary Las Vegans, and that’s a great thing. Extra kudos for also including smaller, non-casino—and totally worthy—restaurants like the Bronze Cafe, Forte Tapas and Due Forni.

2013 Life Is Beautiful: Day 2, Part 1

•The (not-so) Secret Garden, a welcome place to sit down and relax between sets, and still within good hearing distance of the Huntridge Stage. Next year, more, please.

•Some musicians were allowed to busk on certain plots of sidewalk. The sight of the All-Togethers playing their old-timey instruments in their old-timey get-ups made LIB briefly feel like Disneyland.

•Imagine Dragons’ set closing collaboration with Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère, which filled the stage with dancing, drumming, stilt-walking performers as the Dragons pounded out hit single “Radioactive” on massive drums.

•Eating food from Nobu, Blue Ribbon Sushi and D.O.C.G. at a large outdoor music festival. First-day dish winner: D.O.C.G.'s lamb sausage sandwich.

•Towers with set times and maps were located at every intersection, making it super easy to keep track of your schedule without having to awkwardly ogle the fold-out paper guide every few minutes or drain your phone battery with the app.

•Additional DJ and acoustic sets scheduled for many of the acts made for a cool opportunity to catch a band whose main set you may have missed or simply to check out another musical side of a favorite artist.

•The Art Odyssey installation felt like a greatest-hits of local artists, and its steady stream of visitors recalled First Friday at the Arts Factory.

•One of the art projects chronicled in this year’s high-profile Burning Man documentary Spark—sculptor Katy Boynton’s “Heartfulness”—was featured prominently near the Downtown Stage.

•Celebrity chefs actually standing in their booths inside the Life Is Beautiful Culinary Village, including Michael Mina, Hubert Keller, Scott Conant and even Tom Colicchio, who went slightly incognito in a baseball hat and sunglasses (but we still saw ya, Tom).

•Donald Link's ridiculously rich and tasty Cajun Boudin sausage, made from the pig that had been smoked earlier at the Cochon booth.

2013 Life Is Beautiful: Day 1, Part 2


•The lack of affectionate banter vocalist Brandon Flowers directed to bassist Mark Stoermer—unlike his frequent terms of endearment toward guitarist Dave Keuning and drummer Ronnie Vannucci—during The Killers’ closing set.

•Also: Despite his frequent mentions of Las Vegas, Flowers failed to acknowledge Life is Beautiful or the evolution Downtown. That wasn’t the case with non-Vegas acts like Vampire Weekend and STS9.

•People were still painting murals as late as 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

•The LIB-tagged shipping containers dotting Downtown certainly made for fun photo ops, but perhaps giving drunk people metal boxes to climb isn’t the best idea.

•Metro was friendly.

•Sets ran eerily on-time for a festival—in several cases, artists took the stage and left up to five minutes ahead of time. What’s the rush?

•Women wearing high heels. You're at a music festival ... on concrete. Succumb to the sneaker, ladies.


•Cell service and 3G access, which were basically nonexistent by midday Saturday. Key strategy: Making specific meetup plans with friends, rather than relying on texting.

•Shame on Downtown Project for dropping the ball on prepping Container Park in time for the festival. Total missed opportunity.

•The liferaft-sized Red Bull Sound Select stage was insulting small for just about any band, but we’re still scratching our head as to why successful indie darlings Smith Westerns, who would’ve been right at home on the Huntridge Stage, were relegated to that stage Sunday night. The band wasn’t happy about it, either, as singer Cullen Omori let us know with snarky comments peppered throughout the set.

•Garbage heaps. LIB did a lot of things right to prepare for its first festival. Calculating the right number of trash and recycling bins was not one of them, particularly near the big stages, where the under-foot crunch of bottles and cups a constant soundtrack as bodies moved across the pavement. The few trash cans were beyond overflowing on Saturday, though the problem was largely remedied on Sunday.

•Sunday’s programming had two head-scratching schedule conflicts: The Killers and Empire of the Sun, both synth pop acts with ostensibly large fan overlap, and way-too-closely slotted Janelle Monáe, Jurassic 5 and Danny Brown, all urban/alternative artists who also likely had large overlap of admirers.

•The parents who brought their infant son to the Downtown Stage during Vampire Weekend and The Killers without any ear protection—and then smoked weed and cigarettes right in his face.

•Naysayers both inside and outside the gates were quick to dismiss the bulk of attendees as "hipsters." First of all, enough with using the word hipster in the pejorative. Second, the mainstream-leaning crowd was more Hollister than hipster, anyway.

•You still had to look hard to notice the locals-showcasing Homegrown Stage, which was totally obscured to Fremont Street passersby by the D’s pop-up casino and lounge.

•A main entrance pillar falling in stiff winds on Day 2, forcing the fest to reroute crowds to a makeshift entrance/exit on Seventh and Carson. By now, Vegas music-festivals should probably be prepared for high winds.

•Halloween costumes are one thing, but we’ve never seen quite so many pieces of goofy, ironic headgear at a festival before. From strap-on Pokemon beanies to Dr. Seuss hats to the classic Native American headdress faux-pas, our view was perpetually obstructed by frat bros’ need to express themselves with a dome-accessory of choice. In the immortal words of Chris Rock: Take off that silly-ass hat.

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