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Over the last weekend of October, the first ever Life is Beautiful Festival took place in Downtown Las Vegas. Besides being a music festival featuring more than 6 stages, there was a huge focus on food, beverages, and art. The all ages event brought together people of every size, shape, and ethnicity making to create a very memorable weekend for most. The self-dubbed “Lifers” got to see one of the most diverse lineups of the year, featuring artists all over the rock, rap, alternative and EDM genres; however, if you didn’t fancy that aspect, there was still so much to see and do.
Performing on the Downtown Stage (main stage) were artists such as Imagine Dragons, Kings of Leon, Jurassic 5, Passion Pit, and Las Vegas natives, The Killers. Throughout the whole festival this stage brought the biggest crowds, and had the best sound system. Although no major EDM artists were booked on this stage, it was a true crowd pleaser for many of the patrons attending.
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The sister stage to Downtown was the Huntridge Stage; LiB alternated between these two stages for set times, allowing for a constant, uninterrupted stream of music. The distance between the stages took about two minutes to get to one another, so it never felt a chore to find a great artist to listen to. Huntridge had the most diversity of talent on it’s stage, including Earl Sweatshirt, Cults, Big Gigantic, Portugal. The Man, Robert DeLong, and Danny Brown. The best quality of this stage was that the performance felt intimate wherever you went! Whether it be right up against the rails, or 100 feet back, the ambience was that of a club shows, rather than a festival setting.

The real star stage for LiB was the Ambassador stage, located as far east as the festival would allow. Almost all of the performers that got the best crowd reactions and demonstrated the true aspects of talent while controlling the stage for their allotted time. Zedd, Pretty Lights, and Childish Gambino all had some of the most raging crowds when it came to jumping, pushing, and just overall energy. The ever so theatrical Empire of The Sun closed out Ambassador Sunday night in style, dedicating their last song “Alive” to the late Lou Reed who passed away on Saturday.

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Cirque Du Soleil had a strong presence at this festival, featuring small showcases throughout the day of all their Las Vegas shows including: O, Ka, Myster, Zumanity and Love.

Besides the main music attractions, something captivating about the festival was the amount of street performers. You could be wandering through the streets and suddenly find a group of violinists playing, or a man with an acoustic guitar. It helped remind “Lifers” that they weren’t in a generic grassy field, and that although this was a festival, they were still in the heart of a city. We managed never to lose that traditional Las Vegas ambience, especially with a casino with slot machines, craps tables, blackjack etc. located right at the heart of the festival.

Many of the food vendors had an interesting variety of foods ranging from simple festival meals like hot dogs, to more complex and ethnic food like gyros, burritos, or chicken teriyaki bowls. If you were craving a type of food, there was a very good chance that it would be somewhere in the festival. Although not surprising, a lot of the vendors we’re selling their food for 6 -10$ a dish. The quality/quantity ratio was extremely noticeable, and definitely made it all worth the price.

The art instillations were all over the festival, whether it be a 3D panting on the side of the building, or main art exhibits interspersed across the grounds. You were only ever a brief walk away frommind blowing spectacles of creative human achievement, and I know to some it was the highlight of the whole weekend.  The art ranged from paintings to sculptures, to hundreds of potatoes nailed to a wall in a room filled with sand. If you could conceptualize an idea, it was likely somewhere at Life is Beautiful.

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As it was Life is Beautiful’s inaugural event, there were a few slight problems that could be fixed for next year. The most notable of which was the excessive amounts of trash on the ground, which the obvious lack of trash cans may have contributed to. It was less than ideal leaving on Saturday night and seeing hundreds of pounds of garbage everywhere. By Sunday afternoon it had almost all been cleaned up, but the visuals of cups and plates  never went away. Another potential problem was how relaxed security was. There were people walking around with handles of alcohol that people must have brought in through backpacks and snuck through security. There was even an instant when a large bong was being passed through a crowd. Not only is it dangerous to have these big glass items around, incase they break, but it really makes one wonder what else could have been snuck in. If security could miss a big glass object, it would be easy for any drug dealer to bring in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of narcotics. Lastly, there was a huge lack of free water. Life is Beautiful is located in a desert city and it was incredibly hot from start to finish. With the average price of water being $4 it was dangerous to not see water refill stations all around. There were at least two, but they weren’t overly advertised, and in a festival of thousands of people, that truly isn’t enough. Although there haven’t been any reports of deaths or any other tragedies, this is a huge health concern that needs to be addressed. Water is a necessity and for the public to have the best time possible hydration is key.

That being said, Life is Beautiful should return for countless years, and we had an absolute blast experiencing the first of many.  Althoughwe did have our complaints, and who doesn’t, they seemed to address the issues stated to make for a more well-rounded festival by the time it ended, The crowds were relatively tame, with no horrible fights or drunken shenanigans, as well as no deaths or overdoses. If LiB is able to keep up the good work, it would be no surprise if this was to become a staple festival for many in the west.

Contributing Writer: Brian James Anderson