Life Is Beautiful 2016 Day 1 Highlights: Mumford & Sons, G-Eazy, The Shins & More

Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons performs during the 2016 Life is Beautiful festival on Sept. 23, 2016 in Las Vegas.

The opening day of Las Vegas’ Life Is Beautiful saw the usual festival mix of eclecticism with rapper G-Eazy delivering one of the most crowd-pleasing sets of the night to a huge throng, Keys N Krates and Jack Garratt representing the electronic world, and rising jazz superstar Kamasi Washington lending the proceedings a touch of elegance.

But Day 1 of the three-day festival in downtown Vegas was all about songwriting with Mumford & Sons, who closing out the Downtown stage, and the only 2016 U.S. tour date for the Shins leading the charge.

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Mumford & Sons, who earlier in the week told a Los Angeles crowd that they wouldn’t be back for some time, played like a band wanting to make sure no one forgets them while they are presumably in the studio. The group’s two-hour set was passionate, forceful and machine precise on hits like “The Cave,” a jangly sing-along of “I Will Wait,” the rocking closer “The Wolf,” a compelling “Lover of the Light” and the pop/rock gem “Believe.” And fittingly for Bruce Springsteen’s 67th birthday Marcus Mumford and mates delivered their superb cover of The Boss’ “I’m on Fire.”

The Shins, who recently said they’ve completed material for their first new album since 2012’s Port of Morrow, made a triumphant comeback in anticipation of the new set’s release in early 2017. The band’s return to the States for the first time in three years was a stellar 70-minute mix of dreamy indie pop highlighted by the crowd favorite “Caring Is Creepy” as well as a pair of new songs recently premiered during U.K. dates. “Dead Alive” had a very Kinks-esque vibe while “Rubber Balls” was more of a vintage Shins vibe.

Another standout in the singer/songwriter world was Dallas Green’s City and Colour, who absolutely made the most of their 40 minutes, drawing a sizable crowd to the Huntridge Stage for tracks like “If I Should Go Before You,” “Woman,” the soulful gem “Lover Come Back,” and the closing “As Much As I Ever Could.”

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Green told Billboard backstage that he is closing out the cycle on his underrated 2015 album, If I Should Go Before You. This was a deserved victory lap for the singer/songwriter.

Tegan and Sara, on the other hand, told Billboard that they are just getting into the headlining tour for their recent Love You To Death album. The duo delivered a joyful blend of both old and new material with “Boyfriend” and “Closer” among the highlights of their 60-minute set.

Day 1 provided plenty of other memorable moments, with Bloc Party leading those, along with strong sets from Catfish & The Bottlemen, the RZA Paul Banks collaboration Banks And Steelz, and Kelhani.