Day two of Life Is Beautiful, the three-day music, art, comedy and food festival that enraptures 18 blocks of downtown Las Vegas, produced electrifying performances from Gorillaz, Lorde, Coi Leray, Bob Moses and Orange County comedy bros Chad and JT.
Saturday’s (Sept. 17) theme of the day-to-night gathering of 170,000 attendees seemed to be ultimate fan interaction as many took their magic from the stage to the crowd.
The day kicked off with Chad Kroeger and JT Parr from the Netflix hit Chad & JT Go Deep spreading their stoke inside the Kicker Comedy Club. Life Is Beautiful’s comedy platform has flourished since its introduction in 2016, welcoming the likes of Michelle Wolf, Bob the Drag Queen, Sam Jay and Nico Santos. Occupying the first performance slot of the day, Chad and JT packed an impressive audience into the well air-conditioned theater, a pleasant break from the 90-degree temperatures outside. With a moral to every story, Chad and JT eulogized their recently deceased friend Froader, prophesizing that he died from lack of stoke in his life. Their message in this tale was “stoke or croak,” encouraging the audience to tap into the natural stoke life force that exists in Las Vegas. A low-fi PowerPoint presentation suggested to take advantage of Vegas’ many neural nutrients, including hedonism, bottle service, pool, parties, gambling and party drugs to avoid ending up like Froader and croaking from lack of stoking. After passing Froader’s urn around the crowd, they promised they would take him out into the festival for an after-life stoke sesh. Later, video showed them with the urn at the Fremont stage, dancing with Froader’s remains while enjoying a DJ set.
First up on the Downtown stage was Alexander 23, who delivered an outstanding performance in one of the toughest slots of the day. Their eye-catching graphic introduced them as the Beatles with the small print reading: just kidding, it’s Alexander 23. The light pop sound was the perfect way to transition in the crowd, undoubtedly weary from the previous night’s festivities, which had crowds exiting after 1 a.m. Alexander 23 made a big sound that far surpassed what’s expected of a trio. Giving his seasoning since breaking onto the scene in 2019, he could be the new king of sob rock.
Having made a big impact on 2022’s festival circuit, Bob Moses got the coveted sunset time slot on the Downtown stage. Electrifying the growing crowd, “Tearing Me Up” sounded especially melodic as the warm breeze set in, welcoming the desert night. If ever there was a golden hour band — it’s Bob Moses.
Later in the evening, Lorde was pretty in pink and showing off her incredible abs in a strappy spandex bralet top and pants. She reminisced about how nervous she was playing the festival back in 2017. Her stairway-to-the sun-themed set, which has traveled the festival scene with her this year, is a visual stunner. Kicking off with “The Path“ and “Homemade Dynamite,” her growth as an artist shone brightly. Encouraging the crowd to “dance for our 15-year-old selves tonight,” she bounced into “Ribs.”
About her evolution, she said, “I’m 25 now, I’m blonde now, and I’m wearing a hot pink outfit. We all change, we all go through phases, and I love to celebrate all those phases, I think they’re all magical,” noting that when she played five years ago she was suffering from major stage nerves.
She danced between ethereal and emotional, literally and musically. “Royals” drew a thunderous response from the crowd and she finished with “Solar Power“ ascending back up to her muse. “This song was written in a wet bikini, after a long day at the beach,” she said, giving the crowd the ultimate scene-setting reference.
Also returning from the 2017 lineup, Damon Albarn and Gorillaz released an energy on the crowd that has been unmatched so far during the weekend. Raising his arms like a deity over his disciples, Albarn packed what felt like three shows into one. From “Cracker Island” to “MLS,” joined up with fellow festival performer JPEGMafia, to “On Melancholy Hill,” it was hit after hit. Gorillaz are always several steps above everyone else.
Albarn masterfully jumped between instruments and then parted the crowd like the seas and went for a stroll among the people.
All four virtual Gorillaz members were present, their visuals timed perfectly to the music as well as guns, police badges, golden Xanax bars and the like.
Albarn loves to travel with a crowd, and Life Is Beautiful was no exception. “Désolé” brought Fatoumata Diawara to the stage, and her vocals ripped up the crowd as they stood at attention. De La Soul’s Pos appeared for “Feel Good Inc,” and it all closed up with “Clint Eastwood.” Donning a Luffy straw summer hat he plucked from an audience member, Albarn blew his large horn to signify a job well done. “I only blow this horn when s—’s good. And s—’s good tonight,” he said. “You are f—ing lovely. Don’t ever forget what just happened.”
Over at the Bacardi stage, Alessia Cara — joined by Blue Man Group— reminisced about her 2015 Life Is Beautiful moment, remarking that it was the first festival she ever played. Then, Gryffin and Kygo kept Bacardi packed until closing. Kygo brought out Gryffin during his set, and they performed their new song “Woke Up In Love.” Gryffin killed it on the electric guitar. Kygo, known for his popular covers, took a spin on Tina Turner, White Stripes and Jefferson Airplane.”
While both Gryffin and Kygo have residencies at Wynn Las Vegas, the festival gave their fans a chance to see them outside of the club and to touch the under-21 crowd.
On the Fremont stage, Marc Rebillet closed the night, joined by Blue Man Group.
BACARDÍ Rum welcomed headlining artist and famed Puerto Rican singer and rapper Farruko to the stage. Fans flocked to CASA BACARDÍ to see Farruko perform his greatest hits, like “Pepas” and “Relación.”
A fan-favorite moment of the day was the interactive McDonald’s ‘Golden Access’ experience with an appearance from Coi Leray. Leray chilled out in the McDonald’s ‘Golden Access’ VIP Suite surrounded by French fries and McFlurries — not a bad way to enjoy a music festival. Leray told Billboard that she hopes to one day have her own meal at the Golden Arches as many of her contemporaries have recently done. She also shared that a second album is in progress and will drop in the coming months. A studio drop-in still had her giddy: “Two weeks ago, I was in the studio with Missy Elliott. And she came to the session with me for four hours. She’s such an icon. She’s a legend. She gave me so many pointers. And I look up to her in so many ways, not only [in] music but fashion.” Later in the evening, Leray bubbled up the Fremont stage, with a set to appeal to her TikTok crew. The rapper’s best take was “Push Start,” her song with French Montana, and her new song “Fly S—,” closing with vital sensation “Twinnem.”
Day two proved once again that performers thrive under the night sky in Las Vegas, upping the energy to match the electric cityscape.
A majority stake of Life Is Beautiful is owned by Billboard’s parent company, Penske Media Corporation.