Poster gazing: A first take on this year’s Life Is Beautiful Festival lineup

Kanye West, Foo Fighter and OutKast headline the 2014 installment of Downtown’s Life Is Beautiful Festival.

That neither Rolling Stone nor Pitchfork made mention of Life Is Beautiful’s lineup reveal on Monday suggests a surprising national apathy about the Las Vegas festival, and that’s nothing compared to Consequence of Sound’s description of the bill as “just about the most predictable lineup you could imagine a music festival having in 2014.” Throw in a barrage of anti-Kanye West venom across Facebook, and LIB’s big day had a strangely mixed air about it.

Yet in ways that matter most for Life Is Beautiful organizers, Monday’s rollout might prove to be a raging success. October’s headliners—West, Foo Fighters and OutKast—are beyond reproach in terms of popularity, and far from slouches critically, either. Behind every Kanye hater stand three fans waiting to snatch up a ticket, and Dave Grohl and André 3000 haven’t played live in Las Vegas for years. A solid argument could even be made that Life Is Beautiful trumped Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza in the ’14 headliner sweepstakes, a gangsta move that alone should have prodded Rolling Stone and Pitchfork into action. The next few lines on the poster, where Arctic Monkeys, The Roots and Girl Talk reside, will also surely bolster sales, with Skrillex, an LA dubstep DJ who sidestepped EDC last weekend, a particularly clever electronic choice for an event aimed at the rock set.

In some respects, however, the announcement did feel anticlimactic. The Downtown gathering’s second-year poster looks generally devoid of “gets,” the types of bookings that compel fest-heads to book airfare on the spot. LIB also didn’t make significant inroads with a growing demographic here at home—call them music snobs—folks who pray that Nick Cave or The Replacements might perform in their town. Placing an act like Arcade Fire near the top of the lineup could have won their hearts, but LIB’s smattering of hip bookings (TV on the Radio, Tune-Yards, Tycho) might not be enough to make that set drop $200 on passes. And the local component—pared down from more than a dozen Vegas acts in 2013 to less than half that, almost all of them repeats—feels rather predictably curated.

Still, judging from this week’s buzz, Southern California—the festival’s key feeder market (see: Monday morning’s initial lineup tease not here at home but on LA’s KROQ)—sounds wildly excited about LIB’s choices. And if OK Go, Switchfoot and Lionel Richie move units, does it matter who laughs at their inclusion? Because as we’re dancing to Holy Ghost!, chomping on Donald Link’s sweet New Orleans cooking and hoping for a third Life Is Beautiful for 2015, we won’t be sweating which acts, exactly, might make that happen.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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