Amongst the oversaturated live music market in Las Vegas lies one festival that has been standing out for over ten years: Life is Beautiful.
While most music lovers have to travel to the strip and deal with overpriced hotels and $20 Bud Lights, this festival embraces old Vegas and takes over the Fremont Street area of downtown for three days.
A favorite of locals, Life is Beautiful is also known for its endless experiences, activities, and activations alongside one of the biggest multi-genre lineups in the US.
We attended Life is Beautiful this past weekend and were absolutely blown away by the attention to detail of this Vegas staple. Read below:
Life is Beautiful is an all-ages festival resulting in both the good and bad of attendees, but in general, it had a feeling of community we’d been missing.
We saw a few young kids and some very fresh babies walking around the festival, but they all stayed far back in the crowd and once the clock hit ten, we barely saw any children. Everyone was respectful and super open to having a chat, dancing with you, or offering a fan.
During Snakehips‘ set at the Freemont Stage, the main EDM tent, it felt like the entire crowd was united in reliving 2016 nostalgia and it was such a bonding experience.
The problem was some teenagers used the festival as an excuse to get messed up. We were aggressively shoved quite a few times by some people between 15 and 20 years old who were either trying to get to the front of the set or extremely not sober.
The number of great interactions we had with younger people who had been attending the festival for years definitely made up for that downright disrespectful behavior, but hopefully, these ravers learn soon that’s how not to behave.
There’s nothing else to say but this was some of the absolute best production we have ever experienced at a festival.
Even when we felt there would be sound bleed between stages, such as during A$AP Ferg‘s set where it seemed they turned up the bass a few notches, all of the quiet bands on the closest stage were unimpeded.
Even the hidden Mantis Stage at the back of Container Park, which contained full storefronts, food shops, and small businesses usually open on Fremont had booming sound and lights that had all the house heads floored.
And then there was ODESZA. While their production is famously one of the best in the game, Life is Beautiful made sure it was represented to the best effect with balanced bass, perfectly timed confetti, different types of fireworks, and a seamless, shortened recreation of their current tour production.
One TV screen did have some issues during the set, but within one minute it was fixed for the rest of the performance.
The lineup for this year’s Life is Beautiful was the perfect mix of old-school nostalgia and new-school innovation that had us in awe.
But we did wish there had been a bit more focus on the dance music genre as a whole. Past Life is Beautiful lineups were a lot more electronic-heavy with names like Gryffin, Jauz, Oliver Heldens, NERVO, and more sprinkled across the entire festival.
But this year, it felt like there was only one stage focused on dance music with a few headliners at the main Downtown Stage and the rest were rappers or bands.
Selfishly, we just wish there was a higher percentage of electronic artists overall.
Life is Beautiful was held right in the heart of downtown Las Vegas on Freemont Street and truly felt like we were at one giant Vegas-style block party.
All of the businesses normally open downtown were open within the festival meaning there was no shortage of shops, food places, bars, or small businesses to explore. There was even a real tattoo shop selling flash styles.
This added to the already immense range of activities and activations that we barely made it to within the three-day event.
Meow Wolf created a full space complete with a bar and bingo, there was a small business marketplace, a Drag disco, a silent disco, painting, tooth gems, and more. And while this could have made the event feel crowded, there was plenty of space around the festival.
One of the highlights of this year’s Life is Beautiful was how small the crowd was for every single set. And while financially it’s not great to have low sales, we were floored by never having to wait in line for food, a drink, or bathrooms.
5G service was available the whole time, and there was plenty of space to dance or move to the front of the stage.
It was also one of the most convenient festivals we had ever been to in terms of getting to the event. Hotels are located all across downtown and many were a ten to 15-minute walk away which allowed us to avoid most street traffic.
Then when the festival was over, after-parties were just outside the gate and you could even go in and out of the festival to grab some air conditioning or a cheap bite at one of the many late-night spots.
The name of the game was convenience and variety and there was no shortage of either.
Life is Beautiful was a model for what many festivals seem to have lost in 2023: less crowded with more variety and more activities.
It felt like a community of locals had come together to simply celebrate music without getting caught up in all of the pomp and circumstance that plagues the Las Vegas strip.
The festival really went back to what makes an event experience memorable by focusing on creating a consistently great experience all across the board while celebrating the fun-loving community that makes Vegas so special.
And while no festival is perfect or has perfect attendees, Life is Beautiful came pretty close in terms of logistics and is now one of our new favorite festivals.
All images credit Life is Beautiful