The music festival world has gotten considerably larger over the course of the last decade, but even in the last four or five years, a number of great new festivals have quietly sprung up in likely — or unlikely — parts of the country. Whether you believe Las Vegas is the perfect place for a music festival or not (I do), the continued success of a newer event on the festival scene is argument enough for a host of bands rocking out in the desert oasis. Though Life Is Beautiful festival began only five short years ago, it already epitomizes all the best parts of festival culture.
In this year’s fifth iteration, the lineup for Life Is Beautiful was completely stacked — Lorde, The Gorillaz, Chance The Rapper, Schoolboy Q and Pusha T all had prominent spots on the bill, along with a host of other bands including Imagine Dragons, Local Natives, and Blink-182. With such a diverse musical lineup, it’s no real surprise that the fest has also emphasized a focus on the arts, learning, and food, along with their expert curation on the music side.
For instance, on the Thursday prior to the fest’s real quick off, Imagine Dragons teamed up with the VH1 Save The Music Foundation and Toyota to present a $40,000 grant to three Las Vegas schools in the area: Dell H. Robison Middle School, Cashman Middle School and Ed W. Clark High School.
The grant provides instruments to students in public schools were funding for music-based programming continues to be drastically cut across the country, and specifically focuses on getting education and instruments to lower income kids who may not be able to afford it on their own. Imagine Dragons also performed an intimate show for the kids after they received their grant, making the day an extra special one for the schools — if this had happened when I was a kid, I would’ve lost it.
The Toyota Giving campaign has popped up at a number of festivals throughout the year, and will conclude at this year’s Voodoo Festival in New Orleans. Toyota has donated over $110,000 in the past three years through their partnership with VH1, who have donated $53 million in funds over the course of the past twenty years. And as far as Life Is Beautiful’s support, it’s just another example of a festival coming into a community and actually engaging with the people who live there — which is par for the course when it comes to Another Planet events.
As for the rest of the fest itself, the art, panelist, and of course music, made downtown Las Vegas a haven of culture and energy all weekend, showcasing just how strong the desire for multi-faceted events like this are in the area. It’s easy to stereotype Vegas as a place that people go only to party, but just like any other industry city, there’s a whole community there eager to experiencing something bigger and better, and this fest offered them just that. Which doesn’t mean that Vegas culture didn’t make its way into the mix — on the final day, Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group teamed up for their first-ever joint performance, bringing their own twist to the idea of festival entertainment beyond the music.
However, discounting the music at this festival because of everything else that was packed into the programming would be a huge mistake. With a host of A-list performers, and plenty of up-and-comers (Dua Lipa anyone??) the event was on par with any of the other big name fests on the west coast. Check out some more performance photos below, and next year, September 2018 might be your moment to go to Vegas and find out if Life Is Beautiful.