Night Terrors of 1927
Day two of Life is Beautiful was the most jam-packed day of the downtown Las Vegas festival schedule-wise. It makes sense. People that drove in from LA or flew in from elsewhere get to enjoy a full day’s worth of music whereas the other two days are sometimes eaten up by traveling to and from home.
Early in the day, LA indie pop band Night Terrors of 1927 played a set on the Ambassador Stage. There were many technical difficulties that delayed the start of their set by 15 minutes, probably the heat messing with the many electronic devices they incorporate. This band features Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley and Jarrod Gobel of the Honorary Title but couldn’t be much different from their past works. One standout song from the set was “When You Were Mine,” which featured Alina Cutrono doing the Tegan & Sara portion of the song justice.
Royal Blood continued their domination of the music festival circuit with a high-energy set on the main stage. Their brand of rock n roll is a perfect fit with the hot temperatures. The polished shredding and insane drumming left people astonished the sound was coming from just two individuals.
Indie alternative favorite of ours Meg Myers drew a big crowd to the Huntridge Stage and took full advantage with a memorably strong set. We spoke with her earlier in the day and she said early day festival sets can sometimes be hard on her voice but there was no effect on this day as she hit all the difficult notes (and screams) throughout her set. She played a lot of tunes off her debut album as this was only the second show since the album dropped last week. Crowd favorites included “Desire” and “Sorry,” but “Motel” could easily be that song a month from now. She closed her set with the jaw dropping “Heart Heart Head,” which never fails to produce some demonic facial expressions and screams from Myers in the final chorus. It’s an epic thing to see.
Day two’s biggest singalong came in the form of Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” on the Ambassador Stage as the sun began to dwindle a bit. Their unique blend of classical and dance music separates them from the rest and they will be a great pairing with Duran Duran at the Hollywood Bowl in the coming week. They might have been the best dance party of the day if not for Duran Duran’s set later on.
Electro-indie rockers Metric put together one of the more complete sets of the weekend. Frontwoman Emily Haines was on point vocally and her stage outfit left little to the imagination, basically a nightgown of sorts. They played a couple tracks off their just-released album, the coincidentally-named Pagans in Vegas. But also they played old favorites like “Help I’m Alive” and “Breathing Underwater,” which features a searing bridge portion that had people singing along.
Chance the Rapper has quickly climbed the ranks to being one of the best live hip-hop acts out there. His live band was a perfect complement to what he brings to the table and he had the crowd hyped for the duration of his performance.
Duran Duran is the kind of smart booking by a festival that shows promise in terms of establishing themselves with staying power. It was a unique booking much in the same way Lionel Richie was the previous year and it paid similar dividends. The demographic of the crowd was wide-reaching and everyone knew the hits — of which there were plenty — that Simon Lebon and co. played. At one point, a lady took a picture on her phone of LeBon and then licked her screen after looking at it, which nearly doubled me over in laughter. “Ordinary World” was perhaps my favorite song of the set and it’s clear these guys still very much have it.
Future Islands made note of how much competition they had at the festival as Snoop Dogg was on simultaneously. It made it easy to get close to the stage and see the awesome moves of Samuel Herring up close. I personally haven’t been able to get much into their tunes as others have but seeing the spectacle of his dancing from just a few rows back made it memorable.
I’ve seen Imagine Dragons at festivals a few times, including the first Life is Beautiful Festival two years ago, so I didn’t stay for the whole set. It is cool to see how much they have blown up since being a sub-headliner two years ago even if they aren’t totally my thing. They are hometown heroes in Las Vegas so it was only fitting they closed down one of the nights.
People made the most of Saturday’s epic slate of music and may have left early in order to have something left for Sunday, and I can’t blame them.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Tom Dellinger