Life Is Beautiful seems like Las Vegas … precise Las Vegas, not the touristy Strip about 4 miles south. While many festivals happen in unremarkable parking heaps, filth fields, or parks, Life Is Beautiful is baked into downtown Vegas. It could also be the solely large-scale pageant the place folks truly dwell in homes and residences inside pageant grounds. 

Make no mistake about it, that is an city pageant, with all the markings of a hip downtown scene — a line of greater than 30-people deep ready to go to cocktail faculty at the again of an open-air market, a grown man in a diaper taking in a set, and one other in a spacesuit promoting “free hugs.” Some filth heaps get coated in sod, an outdated resort turns into a rustic venue, and a vacant parking storage doubles as a silent disco.

But the pageant additionally displays the metropolis’s over-the-top theatrics — how else do you clarify a fire-shooting, 40-foot-long metal praying mantis greeting followers at the entrance? — and organizers don’t stiff-arm Strip acts both, as Cirque du Soleil has constantly had a presence all through the pageant’s nine-year existence. On Saturday, the firm’s Blue Man Group appeared onstage with three completely different acts. On Sunday, Cirque’s Mad Apple strolled the grounds and gave festivalgoers an opportunity to throw a mini basketball via a hoop mounted to a person’s head.  

The last day of the pageant was marked by pure power and some curveballs — very Vegas certainly. “Vegas could be very wild. I can go searching and really feel like I’m in 17 different locations,” Beach House’s Victoria Legrand famous at one level. “It’s every kind of fantasy magic, each good and unhealthy.”

Note: “Rolling Stonebought a majority stake in Life Is Beautiful in February 2022.

Calvin Closes It
How deep is Las Vegas’ love for Calvin Harris? Very deep, apparently. Having the Scottish DJ shut the pageant made sense: He’s lengthy been a prime ticket in Vegas, with years of residencies at a number of main nightclubs, and he carried out at Wynn Las Vegas the night earlier than wrapping Life Is Beautiful 2022. 

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Calvin Harris

Skyler Barberio for Rolling Stone

Harris’ 90-minute set was lengthy on nightclub staples like “Bounce,” “This Is What You Came For,” and “Outside,” all blasted amid pyro, lasers, lights, and Strip-worthy LEDs. A grasp of controlling crowd emotion, Harris transitioned between moody, attractive, and beachy sounds. He spun “Slide,” his tune with Frank Oceans, then transitioned again to hits like “We Found Love” and “Feels So Close,” arguably his most beloved observe. In a delicate nod to his favourite futbol crew, Liverpool FC, he snuck in “One Kiss,” a Dua Lipa collaboration that’s change into an unofficial anthem for the English membership.

Jack Harlow Flies High
While many solo artists might need been swallowed by a stage this measurement, Jack Harlow owned it. He wasn’t technically the headliner, however you wouldn’t realize it. After beginning with some deep cuts, he transitioned to larger tracks like “Way Out” and” Tyler Herro,” which he sang a cappella for a second. Harlow then turned up the warmth and waded into the crowd for “Industry Baby,” the Lil Nas X smash he’s featured on. 

Harlow gave the impression to be having a good time, usually joking about the crowd and the metropolis. At one level, he requested what number of ladies had boyfriends or husbands. Following a loud roar, a surprised Harlow quipped, “Loads of trustworthy shit happening in right here. Don’t neglect what metropolis we’re in.” As the crowd was flying excessive, he capped off a first-class set, naturally, with “First Class.”

A Beach House in the Desert
Beach House introduced maybe the vibey-est present to Vegas on Sunday evening. The Baltimore dream-pop duo floated via an hour, highlighted by jams like “New Romance,” “Myth,” and “Space Song,” all flowing collectively as in the event that they had been one lengthy tune. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally had been for the most half specter-like, engulfed in smoke and low lights. Some followers calmly rocked left and proper, others danced like inflatable tube males exterior of a automobile dealership in a light breeze, swaying and twisting and absolutely embracing the vibes. 

Rico … If You’re Nasty
Rico Nasty introduced her NSFW model of rap to the Huntridge Stage and left nothing on the desk, singing “Smack a Bitch” and “Poppin.” She pleaded for a mosh pit previous to singing fan favourite “OHFR?” Her set was one other second of pure power, the crowd going notably nuts for “Money,” a tune that samples 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some Pussy.” 

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Rico Nasty

Skyler Barberio for Rolling Stone

Pussy Riot’s Salute to Ukraine 
Moscow-based punk rockers Pussy Riot have made a profession out of questioning Russian authority, and their Sunday evening set was no completely different: At one level, the group performed the Ukrainian nationwide anthem. “I would like you to lift your fists up in the air. Ukraine fights for our freedom as properly,” frontwoman Nadya Tolokonnikova mentioned, the Ukrainian flag flowing on the display behind the band. “Scream with me as loud as you may in the event you agree with me that Putin needs to be neutralized.” The crowd screamed again. 

Tolokonnikova, wanting like a nun dominatrix full together with her personal whip, led a protest in live performance type, kicking off with “Police State.” The present synched with photographs of penis candles burning on the display in the background; phrases like “slut” and “vasectomy” appeared on a strobe throughout their set, as did pictures of slicing a phallic eggplant throughout the tune “Plastic.” Pussy Riot additionally confirmed footage of a latest protest in Texas that they organized over abortion entry. “As somebody who served two years in jail for preventing for feminist rights, reproductive rights, it made me unhappy,” Tolokonnikova mentioned of the Supreme Court’s choice to overturn Roe v. Wade. She picked up her whip and belts as they carried out their pro-choice observe “Hangerz.” “My physique doesn’t want recommendation from a priest,” they chanted. The a whole bunch in the crowd shouted again, fists and center fingers in the air. 

Feels Good to Be an Outkast
Big Boi took the crowd on a voyage to Atlanta, giving an impressed efficiency of “In the A,” and operating via a spate of Outkast songs: Among them “Rosa Parks,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” and “Ms Jackson.” “The power is unbelievable,” he famous. “We received hype in the center of the desert.” After “All Night,” a boppy observe from 2017 that speaks of a unending social gathering, Big Boi then launched into what he known as “a smoker’s anthem”: 2010’s “Fo Yo Sorrows.” Then, he famous, accurately, that “we’re vibrating larger than ever. Ain’t no one can fuck with us.”

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Big Boi (left)

Skyler Barberio for Rolling Stone

An Intimate Showing From Dermot Kennedy
Dermot Kennedy bared all of it on stage. Earlier in the night, Kennedy performed an hourlong set match for somebody both freshly in or out of affection. “We’re going to play some songs with plenty of emotion in them, however nonetheless I hope they don’t spoil your weekend,” he mentioned. Kennedy’s voice is raspy and soulful, and he appeared to flip a coin between triumphant and hopeful, anguished and defeated, showcased on celebratory tracks like “Kiss Me” and “Glory” to crestfallen ones like “Rome” and “Moments Passed.”

The Sound of Silence (and Slurpees)
It could be as a lot a refuge from the 96-degree warmth as a dance lounge, however amongst Life Is Beautiful’s quirkiest yearly fixtures is its silent disco 7-Eleven places on (full with free Slurpees) from what would in any other case be your run-of-the-mill parking storage. Outfitted with a number of disco balls and lights and a DJ, it’s a well-liked cease between units. And like at most silent discos, it’s at all times humorous taking off your headphones to listen to attendees who can’t hear their very own voices singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” a capella, and wildly off key. Just one other curveball in a weekend filled with them. 

Check out recaps from Day One and Day Two of Life Is Beautiful. 

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