Beauty Is In the Eye of the Ticket Holder: Life Is Beautiful 2016

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written by Mara Mannella

Much like the downtown Las Vegas city blocks it occupies, Life Is Beautiful has a way of improving upon itself year after year. The fourth year of this quickly maturing festival delivered on its promise of an immersive experience that had fans RSVP’ing to next year’s event as they exited the gates. Enlightened minds, full stomachs and sore dancing feet were the sign of a weekend well spent for thousands of locals and visitors alike.
Part of what sets Life Is Beautiful apart from its festival brethren is what you can experience in between the sets of music. What were standard city blocks earlier in the week are transformed into asphalt dance floors with soundtracks by neon art cars. Trees that stood tall with simple leaves are electrified and glowing in shades of purple and pink. A brick wall alleyway is temporarily home to oversize white bunnies and soft green grass. Gourmet food trucks and stands line the streets alongside flash mobs and water slides. Life Is Beautiful takes commonplace city fixtures and gives them the technicolor treatment and it’s all on display before you even make it to one of the four expertly constructed stages.

That said, all the LED in the world can’t take the place of music that makes your heart pound and your pulse race, so the crew at Life Is Beautiful went ahead and provided that as well. Day 1 featured artists such as Keys N Krates, Kaytranada, Galantis, Banks & Steelz, Rezz and Zhu. Kaytranada treated those under the arching scaffolding of the Troubadour Stage to a roller coaster ride of album favorites and mind-blowing samples from songs of decades past. He truly owned the stage, working the crowd into a frenzy as he built tunes piece by piece. Galantis treated the packed stage to their special brand of feel-good songs complete with thrilling confetti blasts and festival closer Zhu brought that rich, irresistible flow to close out the evening. After an easy breezy day one, festival attendees were ready to be blasted into the outer reaches of the lineup with acts such as Die Antwoord, Bomba Estereo, last minute surprise Ookay, Excision and Bassnectar. Bomba Estereo wowed early evening audiences with their unique electrified Colombian sound, with lead singer Liliana Saumet stage strutting in a gold and white feather jacket (#outfitgoals). Ookay had no trouble winning over a time slot that was originally meant to see Gramatik and Die Antwoord flew their freak flag high above the Ambassador Stage much to their fans delight.

But the night truly belonged to the bass faithful, with masters of the game Excision and Bassnectar filling the last two slots at the Troubadour Stage. Though I don’t think anyone would have complained if the speakers were a few decibels louder, in the depths of the headbanging crowd both artists blew the theoretical roof off, treating those who waited all night long to two hours of exploding beats. Excision dropped his heart-wrenching remix of “The Funeral” and Bassnectar’s infamous combo of chest-rattling bass and otherworldly visuals closed night two with a bang. The final day of Life Is Beautiful welcomed familiar favorites like Flume, Chromeo, Iration, Mija and Major Lazer. The funk was let loose when Chromeo took the Downtown Stage and the crowd danced, hooped and shuffled accordingly. Mija blasted the Troubadour Stage with her genre-hopping sound backed by emoji-inspired visuals. Flume in a word was breathtaking; fans hung on every note as he journeyed through his impressive catalog. The closing sets of Life Is Beautiful 2016 ranged from The Lumineers to Duke Dumont to Major Lazer. The lure of dancehall was too much to resist and Diplo and the crew ran through banger after banger, not quitting until the last streamer was shot. Twerking turned to swaying as the high energy set moved from hits like “Watch Out For This” to the new “Cold Water” featuring the Biebs and MO.

Downtown Las Vegas was once again in the hub of all things art, music, learning, and food for three days. According to the festival’s recent Facebook update, you won’t have to wait long to secure your spot for next year. A limited amount of tickets go on sale this Thursday, September 29 at 10AM for the 2017 event!

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