Life Is Beautiful, the three-day music, art and comedy festival that takes over downtown Las Vegas each fall, celebrates its fifth year with a lineup that doesn’t disappoint. Day one (Friday, Sept. 22) started strong with a slate of heavyweights like Chance the Rapper, Lorde, Blink-182 and many more.
With top-tier talent, plus mountainous views on one end and casinos on another, what’s not to love? In fact, there was so much for us to love that we felt inspired to give the best moments a little superlative to show just how special Life Is Beautiful can be.
Here are the stand-out moments from the first day of the festival.
About 25 minutes past his scheduled start time, Georgia rapper 2 Chainz was wheeled onto the main stage. “I broke my leg about five weeks ago,” he said from a wheel chair with the word “Trap” painted on the back. “When I got out of surgery, the nurse told me ‘You’re not gonna make it to that Life Is Beautiful festival.’ So then I told the nurse, ‘Bitch, you crazy.'”
After an a cappella opening from The Trap Choir — who later returned for a handful of songs — the performance surged ahead with trap tracks like his Lil Wayne collab “Rich As Fuck,” “I’m Different,” and others. Even with a broken leg, 2 Chainz’s stage presence was strong as ever.
— Life is Beautiful (@lifeisbeautiful) September 23, 2017
“How many Nirvana fans we got in this mother fucker?” asked hip hop duo They. The two then performed “Rather Die,” built around a sample of Nirvana’s “Polly.” Earlier in the set, Drew Love and Dante Jones promoted SoundCloud, confidently saying by the end of the set everyone in the crowd will be visiting their page, and also tossed out merch.
The set’s standout moment came when Love introduced “Dante’s Creek” (which samples Paula Cole‘s “I Don’t Want To Wait”) by saying, “This song means the world to me.” He proceeded to sing while standing on a table set up in the middle of the stage — it was later moved so Love and Jones had sufficient space to jump around before it was time to wrap things up.
Most Blissful Dance Party
Two Door Cinema Club promised the crowd they’d have fun tonight, and the Irish indie rockers made sure to follow through by churning out one pulsating pop rock song after another. The beginning of their main stage performance was seemingly just a warm up, though, considering the flurry of danceable hits from “Something Good Can Work” to “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You” that finished off the feel-good set.
With a Jamaican flag pinned to the DJ booth and two dancers on either end of the stage, Sean Paul served up a smooth set of his island-influenced tracks. His features on songs like his Enrique Iglesias collab “Bailando” and his remix of Sia‘s “Cheap Thrills” earned positive responses from the crowd, though both paled in comparison to the roars for his older hits. As soon as the beats for Beyonce‘s “Baby Boy” and later “Like Glue” blared out of the speakers, the overflowing crowd knew it was headed for a trip down memory lane.
While day one largely featured pop and hip hop acts, southern rockers The Revivalists offered a refreshing rock heavy break. The seven piece New Orleans outfit ripped through a series of swampy songs off its two albums, making sure to save its breakthrough hit “Wish I Knew You” for the prime set closer spot.
At 9:20 exactly, the lights dimmed and Kate Bush‘s “Running Up That Hill” played loudly from the stage. Moments later, Lorde appeared and went right into her freeform dance moves during opening track “Tennis Court.” In the absence of the plexiglass box she has been touring with, dancers and actors rather played out various stages of a party off to the side of the stage (in theme with the concept behind Melodrama). During her Disclosure feature “Magnets,” Lorde couldn’t help but smile through the lyrics as she sang “pretty girls don’t know the things I know” — funny enough, the star recently graced the cover of Vogue Australia.
The personable singer’s headline-worthy set included interpretive dancing (from herself and a group of five dressed in matching monochromatic blue outfits) and a melodramatic delivery of hits old and new. Most songs were prefaced with a backstory, like how “The Louvre” is about the ups and downs of a new crush (“waiting for a text reply is a definite downer,” she said) or how “Liability” is about being unbearably lonely. On a lighter note, elsewhere in the set Lorde — who pointed out she can hardly enjoy the city, seeing as she’s only 20 — asked: “I feel like this is where the freaks are in America, right?” The wild reply confirmed her suspicion.
Russ opened with his most-known hit, “What They Want,” which succeeded in drawing a large crowd — possibly the biggest the small Huntridge side stage saw all day. The Atlanta MC ran through “Do It Myself,” “Losing Control” and other fan favorites, but even his hits couldn’t help the natural thinning that happened as the clock ticked closer to Chance’s headlining set time. Russ didn’t seem to mind: “This is the greatest festival name ever, life really is beautiful.”
Most Fitting Headliner
At 11:30, Chance’s now signature “oh-ooh” echoed over the main stage crowd. Chano — wearing a Gucci belt (a recent wardrobe staple, thanks to his guest spot in DJ Khaled‘s “I’m The One”) and a red shirt that read “If I can’t wear this I’m not going” in yellow lettering — came out swinging. Flames lit up the stage and the sound of shots being fired jolted fans as the Chicago MC rapped his harder-hitting track “Mixtape.” The opening song of choice served as a reminder as to how he ended up headlining not only Life Is Beautiful, but also nearly every other major music festival this past summer. But for the Chance, who is currently on his Be Encouraged tour, Life Is Beautiful is a perfect fit, considering it’s like-minded message of positivity.
Supported by his backing band The Social Experiment, which includes trumpeter Nico Segal (formerly Donnie Trumpet) and producer Peter Cottontale, Chano’s set covered everything from Coloring Book favorites to throwbacks like “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and others off his 2013 mixtape Acid Rap. During Kanye West‘s “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” sparks spit off the stage and later Chance had the crowd singing along like a choir for “Sunday Candy” and “Blessings.” When all was said and done, Chance managed to take Sin City itself to church — as only he can.