Outkast hadn’t played Las Vegas in more than a decade when they headlined Saturday’s Life is Beautiful smorgasbord on the second day of the downtown Las Vegas festival.
Outkast had made the festival rounds on their reunion this year, to mixed results. Their week one Coachella set was knocked for being a bit shaky, but their Saturday set in Las Vegas showed them at their best. The Atlanta duo went through their large array of hits without breaking off time for the weird Andre 3000 solo stuff that stunted their Coachella set.
On the competing stage on the other side of the festival, The Flaming Lips rocked everyone’s faces off with a high-tempo set. Their stage was decorated with all sorts of psychedelic props like mushrooms and aliens, and their cover of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” had to be great for those people that were still peaking.
Those who got in the gates early enough to see The Preatures were treated to a charismatic set from one of many up and coming rock bands from the Land Down Under. Vocalist Isabella Manfredi donned a black leather jacket early in the set but shed it when the heat became too much. By the end of things, the Chrissie Hynde-like Manfredi had drenched herself (and the crowd) in water. It was nice to see a fair number of people knew more than just their breakout hit “Is This How You Feel?”
OK GO singer Damian Kulash said there are few things less rock ‘n’ roll than playing a show in the daylight, but they managed just fine. Their songs they pimped out from their latest release were solid and they made sure to mix in their hits. One funny moment came when a female fan asked Kulash if he was single. He instructed her to find him at the Lionel Richie set later that night. Kulash was donning a Lionel t-shirt and said the show of his he saw a few years ago was one of the best he’d seen. Foreshadowing?
I knew very little about Iceland-based Asgeir heading into that set. But I did know his debut record outsold those of Sigur Ros and Bjork, the two most recognizable names in music over there. His voice was so beautiful that nobody seemed to mind when he sang the non-English tracks. The highlight had to be the almost lullaby – sounding cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box”. It was masterful.
J Roddy Walston and the Business know how to seamlessly blend the genres of gospel and rock ‘n’ roll. Some of their stuff I could see playing following a particular powerful sermon. They just had all sorts of energy and was a good indicator of how diverse this festival’s lineup was.
At the Downtown stage, Fitz & The Tantrums turned up the heat as the afternoon started winding down. I’ve seen them twice already and I still never get enough of how talented the sax player James King. Serious pipes. The chemistry between vocalists Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs is really strong, as is the chemistry between the two of them and the crowd. This is a group that should forever be a festival circuit regular.
The Roots put on one of the strongest sets of the weekend. The way ?uestlove can change a beat or tempo of a song on the drums on a dime never ceases to impress. Black Thought has some of the smoothest vocals I’ve ever heard while still maintaining a crazy flow. How he didn’t run out of breath was something to behold.
Wearing the kind of dress my five-year-old niece would go nuts over, New Zealand export Kimbra lit things up on the Western stage as night began to set in. It was an emotional roller coaster for a couple people in the crowd up front from what I could see. Interestingly, I met some Aussies who came just on Saturday. It struck me how this year had a wider reach than last year as there were lots that came from other countries. Europe and Australia were well-represented.
If there’s one thing I learned from Lionel Richie’s set it was that he’s still got as much swagger as he did in his heyday. His set stands for everything that is great about a well-booked festival. There was a huge crowd for Richie and surely there were a lot of them who wouldn’t fork out a hundred bucks to see Lionel on his own. They got treated to a top notch set by one of the premiere songwriters of his generation.
My friend that is a Vegas local that I’ve known since elementary school in northern California insisted on seeing Oakland-bred white boy rapper G-Eazy. I’m glad I got talked into it because it was one of the more memorable moments of the weekend so far. If Lionel Richie has swagger, G-Eazy has the modern-day equivalent “#SWAG”. Eazy recalled when he was in Vegas playing the Warped Tour to a crowd of a hundred or so and was humbled by the large turnout for his set. His flow reminds me of Eminem (not because they’re both white) but G-Eazy’s lyrics are much more playful. I think he did a song all about trying to date Tumblr girls?
With The Roots, G-Eazy, and Outkast, hip-hop and rap ruled the night. But the second day of Life is Beautiful still maintained a healthy balance with performances from top acts of many other genres as Lionel Richie, The Flaming Lips, and Kimbra were some of the other highlights. There was just enough of something for everybody.
Take a look at the photos below from day two of Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Tom Dellinger
The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips
J Roddy Walston and The Business
Want more photos? Check out the photo gallery below!