30 Oct Festival Recap: Life is Beautiful 2014 | LA Music Blog
By Lesley Park
Before I begin what’s likely to becomeÊa very long wall of text and pictures, I’ll hit you with the three-sentence summaryÊof my review for those of you who’re looking for the Cliff’s Notes: Move over, Coachella. I haveÊa new favorite festival. It’s taken over the place you previously occupied inÊmy heart,Êand its name is Life is Beautiful.
For those of you just tuning in, I have been hyping up Sin City’s Life is Beautiful Festival ever since I returned from Life is Beautiful 2013 — theÊfestival’s inaugural year. Being a ravenous consumer of bothÊmusic and food, I was intrigued by the concept of a festival that offeredÊboth a music and chef lineup and went into last year’s fest with very high expectations that were thoroughly shattered.
“If the lineup is half as good as it was this year, I’ll go back in heartbeat!” I thought to myself in 2013.ÊThen I saw the 2014 lineup.ÊApparently Life is Beautiful is making a habit out of shattering my expectations.
As I rolled up to the first day of the three-dayÊfte, IÊhad my fair share of reservations stemming mostly from concerns that the festival might have gone the way of Coachella and gotten “too big” now. The less-than-five-minute wait to waltz on into the festival partially assuaged my concerns. The rest of the weekend squashed them completely.
The first stop following a four-hour drive to Vegas? Food, of course. This year festival organizers ditched 2013’s culinary bazaar concept and opted toÊscatter various eateries around each stageÊand everywhere in between, a damn good call on their part as it allowed me to enjoy Phantogram’s stellar set at the Downtown stage over some food from celebrity chefÊRick Moonen.ÊSarah Barthel may have been singing about having a “mouthful of diamonds and a pocketful of secrets,” but I was fairlyÊcontent with a mouthful of lobster roll. From then on it was a nonstop blur of music, food, and fun in the sun for day one.
Largest Party: Girl Talk
Without a doubt,Êthe crown for king of the party goes toÊmashup maestro Girl Talk.ÊIn keeping with his sports-themed stage setup, he emerged from the wings clad in sweatpants and a hoodie, but he unsurprisingly ditched the latter fairlyÊearly on in the dance-and-sweat fest. Deftly mashing up the likes of Flosstradamus and AC/DC, he delivered a high-energy setÊto anÊaudience who arrived more than ready to dance their asses offÊwith him.
Full-throttle mixing aside, stage antics withÊtoilet paper guns, blasts of confetti, and a seemingly never-ending cache of inflatable beach ballsÊalso definitely helped liven things up.
MostÊHeartfelt: Jenny Lewis
Donning one of her severalÊtrademark rainbow pantsuits, Vegas-nativeÊJenny LewisÊwowed a hometown crowd with a mix of her solo materialÊand, of course, a handful ofÊRilo Kiley covers (“Silver Lining” anyone? Swoon.). Having never seen Lewis live before, I was floored by just how beautifulÊher voice sounded in person. She’s great on the albums, to be sure, but there’s a certain soulfulÊje ne sais quoiÊthat emanates from the feminine huskiness she’s known forÊwhen she’s standing a mere 10Êfeet away.ÊThe icing on the already-impressive cake was a flawless acoustic rendition of “Acid Tongue.”
Biggest Pleasant Surprise: RAC
RAC isÊbest known for their collaborations and remixes,Êso I was more than a little curious to find out what their live set would entail. I broke out in a huge grinÊwhen I heard themÊopeningÊwith their ownÊremix of Joywave’s “Tongues,” a bandÊandÊtrackÊI spent the better part of last year obsessing over. They continued the trend of beingÊunexpectedly delightful with a cover of Two Door Cinema Club’s “Something Good Can Work,” and while neither Joywave frontman Daniel Armbruster nor TDCC frontmanÊAlex Trimble were in attendance, Karl Kling did a more than respectable job filling in for them.
RAC’s own tracks sounded equally on point, with “Ello Ello” and “Let It Go” highlighting theÊvocals of the oh-so-adorable Pink Feathers. Matthew Koma made a cameo to sing the summertime jamÊ”Cheap Sunglasses,”Êwhich sounded every bit as infectious as the day it dropped. Those who had started the set sitting didn’t find themselves able to remain so for very long.
Biggest Letdown: Kanye West
There are going to be those who say that Yeezy’s minimal performance was some elaborate, mainstream-shaking statement. I respectfully disagree.
I was slightly disappointed by the total lack of theatrics — instead of fireworks, Russian ballerinas, or any of the other acts of visual insanity I had heard about for performances past, the Life is Beautiful audienceÊgotÊlittle more than a rectangular pillar of a screenÊand West donningÊan inexplicable luchador-meets-BDSM mask — but let’s disregard all that and move onto the important stuff: the music.
Even if you forgive the lead-footed trudge of a first half,Êyou still get a set rife with wonky flow, low energy, and a 10-minute rant about how “the media wants you to think [he’s]Êa bad guy…like bad in the same way as people who kill other people.” There are some journalistsÊpraising him for not going on a longer tirade.ÊIÊthink that’s kind of sad.
That’s not to say Kanye’s set was a complete bust.
“Stronger,” “All Falls Down,” and “Gold Digger” were definitely high points,ÊbutÊafter all I’ve seen and read about the guy, I expected a whole lot more from him. Judging by the droves that left as his set dragged on, so did aÊlot of other people.
Article originally appeared here.