Muse Electrifies the Crowd, Cage the Elephant Gets Nude and More At Life Is Beautiful Day Two
While pop and hip-hop ruled day one of Life Is Beautiful, Day 2 (Saturday, Sept. 23) of the downtown Las Vegas festival was more geared to indie and rock lovers alike.
Local Natives, Milky Chance, Cage the Elephant and main stage headliners Muse largely dominated the evening, though the second day also saw packed (and stoner friendly) performances from ScHoolboy Q, Wiz Khalifa and others.
With one day already in the books and one more to go, here are the best moments of Life Is Beautiful Day 2.
Best at Baring His Soul
Rising British electro-R&B singer Jacob Banks treated early festival goers to a set filled with heavy emotion and deeply soulful songs. From the raspy "Chainsmoking" to his newest track, the tender and growling "Unknown (To You), Banks solidified his status as a breakout star.
Most Stripped Down
Ahead of Local Natives' evening set, the indie rockers gifted fans with a stripped-down performance at the intimate Toyota Music Den. Frontman Taylor Rice typically stage dives towards the end of a show, but the band was more confined than usual in the smaller space. Not to worry, Rice teased more to come from the band's later set when he said, "We made a pledge that we're going all out tonight."
About halfway through Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness' set, the veteran frontman decided to be playful (and risky) by hopping in a giant blowup duck and surfing the crowd -- while still singing. Earlier, McMahon indulged longtime fans with his Jacks's Mannequin hit "Dark Blue" (he was also previously in the rock band Something Corporate) and released countless beach balls into the crowd during "So Close" off the band's sophomore album, 2017's Zombies on Broadway.
Most Likely to Take His Time
After a lengthy pause, during which ScHoolboy Q held his hand to his ear asking the crowd for more, the Los Angeles MC started rapping the lines to "That Part" without any backing track -- the beat kicked in later. As the set approached it's final few minutes, Q made sure to set one thing straight: "We turned this mother fucker into a rap show. DJs just spin shit... We up here rapping, moving side to side." He then ripped into "Man of the Year" as his parting song -- while his own DJ stood on the table hitting a blunt.
Wearing high-waisted trousers and a cropped blazer with nothing underneath, Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz came running on the main stage with an expression that read, "Let's go." Within minutes, his brother and guitarist Brad Shultz had made his way into the crowd while Matt found himself atop a speaker during opening song "Cry Baby." Matt later crouched low to introduce the song " Cold Cold Cold" (which they performed as flames lit up the stage) by saying, "We should celebrate life tonight, especially here in the city of sin, because it's love within."
The rambunctious rock show had no shortage of surprises, but one of the biggest (or maybe most expected, at this point) moments came when Matt took off his clothes to wear nothing but cut-off pantyhose. He then kicked over a mirror, shattering it, as thick clouds of magenta smoke coated the stage during "Too Late To Say Goodbye" off 2015's Tell Me I'm Pretty. He managed to outdo even that, though, when he ran through the crowd and stopped to sing "Trouble" directly to a festival Staff Pro employee. He even went as far as taking off the employee's on-ear headset to wear it himself as he continued singing. With another rousing festival performance in the books, Cage the Elephant once again cemented its status as one of the most compelling live rock bands around. As confetti canons exploded into the crowd, Matt had one final message: "Don't give into the hype of hate, love each other."
Best Suited For the Sun
Local Natives typically play late afternoon or early evening festival sets, a time of day that suits the indie rocker's breezy songs and sunny disposition. At Life Is Beautiful, though, the Los Angeles outfit was slated to play just before the evening's headliner (Muse). While a parking lot illuminated by street lights and casino signs felt slightly off for their vibe, the group's delivery was strong as ever -- the harmonies on "I Saw You Close Your Eyes" were particularly rich (the cowbell sounded great, too). Elsewhere, the set took a political turn ahead of "Fountain Of Youth" when frontman Taylor Rice said, "This is our world and no matter what influence you have, use it for equality, love and respect."
10 minutes past it's scheduled start time, Muse opened its headlining set with the soaring and inspirational "Dig Down," which was released as a single in May of 2017. The English outfit's style fit right in with the lights and colors of downtown Vegas; frontman Matt Bellamy's guitar lit up with electric blue wiring (he also wore light-up electric blue shades), guitarist Chris Wolstenholme's guitar was illuminated in neon green, and drummer Dominic Howard wore a suit jacket with palm trees on it.
As the rockers delivered fan favorites, from "Supermassive Black Hole" to "Hysteria," ever-rotating screens flashed various colors and distorted footage of the band playing in real time. Throughout the set, Bellamy often toyed with his guitar -- he released a series of electric screeches while kicking up his legs and spinning in circles, and later grinded his guitar chords on the amp. The trio was fairly hush (save for a few shout outs to the city of Vegas) during its near two-hour long set time, instead allowing each song to unfold into instrumental rock epics full of heavy reverb and endless distortion that echoed deep into the surrounding desert.