Vegas may be more well-known for its casinos and nightlife, but make no mistake, it also has a thriving festival scene. With world-renowned events like Life is Beautiful and Electric Daisy Carnival, it rivals any other festival-loving city.
And then of course there’s Burning Man, which takes place in Black Rock Desert in upstate Nevada. The festival has become a playground for the rich and famous.
There’s a lot to look forward to, so let’s try to pin down some predictions and preview the odds!
Downtown was the place to be when visiting Las Vegas back in the day. That is, until the Strip became more established. Fifty years later, downtown is in the midst of a revitalization. There’s a new type of energy and spirit in the downtown core. The movement has given rise to festivals and shows, and Life is Beautiful (LIB) might just be the best of the bunch.
The three-day Life is Beautiful event, which recently earned “Festival of the Year” honors from Pollstar, focuses around four pillars: music, food, art, and learning. This year’s edition, which runs from September 22nd through to the 24th, features Chance the Rapper, Muse, Gorillaz, and Blink-182.
Attendees will also have the chance to take in world-renowned performers like Cirque Du Soleil and an interactive art-exhibit, but the specifics of both are still a little murky.
What exactly lies in store at this year’s Life is Beautiful, and who will be headlining down the road? Let’s look at the odds.
Vegas natives Imagine Dragons collaborated with Cirque Du Soleil at the Life is Beautiful festival back in 2013, and the result was stunning. As the world’s largest theatrical producer, Cirque Du Soleil have become a truly international phenomenon. But if there’s one place they know best, it’s Vegas.
Will we see another collaboration this year? Chance the Rapper’s newest album, Coloring Book, showed that the young MC isn’t afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of hip hop. He’s just the type of avant-garde artist who could make a Cirque Du Soleil collaboration work.
Gorillaz have always had a penchant for visually stunning music videos. They have storylines that are sometimes trippy and always mesmerizing. An onstage collaboration with Cirque Du Soleil sounds like a match made in heaven.
Rock bands Muse, The xx, and Cage the Elephant could also do some very interesting things with Cirque Du Soleil. The versatile performers could turn a rock show into something we’ve never seen before.
Gorillaz collaborated with De La Soul and Kali Uchis on their latest album, Humanz. With all three artists performing on the same night, it’s likely they’ll meet on stage at some point during the set.
Grace Jones was a big collaborator on Humanz, as well, and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher also featured. Shaun Ryder has ties with the group running back to Demon Dayz. We could see any of them appear alongside the enigmatic virtual band.
Muse have been teasing us with behind-the-scenes clips and a new single, “Dig Down”, leading up to their album release. The album is expected to drop some time next year, but they’ll probably release a couple of teasers before the big day. Life is Beautiful would be perfect timing for an early Christmas treat.
Life is Beautiful was a stepping stone for artists like Alessia Cara, Twenty One Pilots, G-Eazy, and Halsey. It’s a great way to give emerging artists the exposure they need to thrive. There’s precedent for bands who get their big break at LIB coming back to headline: Imagine Dragons featured at the debut 2013 event and then returned as headliners in 2015.
De La Soul have been around since 1987, so they’re not exactly spring chickens. But they haven’t managed to break through to the mainstream. Perhaps Life is Beautiful is what they need to reach a broader audience.
Lil Dicky is a Youtube phenom, and the rapper exploded onto the scene with his debut album, Professional Rapper. It shouldn’t be long now before he’s big enough to headline a show like Life is Beautiful.
EDM duo Zed’s Dead, deadmau5 collaborator Kascade, and indie rockers Local Natives are also some top picks to return in the future as the marquee act.
Life is Beautiful likes to showcase what they call “immersive art.” It’s not just something you look at; it’s something you interact with and become a part of. Art Motel, an art installation where organizers invite local artists to transform abandoned hotels, creates an interactive world for the attendees.
With so much happening right now, the organisers have no shortage of themes to explore. Of course, there’s Donald Trump, who is unintentionally inspiring a new wave of protest art. Values like “unity” and “diversity”, which many perceive to be under threat, would also make for apt motifs, while topics like social media and technology are still hot-button issues.
With three-day tickets and one-day tickets already sold out for two of the three days, it’s hard to imagine how Life is Beautiful would fail to recoup its costs this year. If you’re looking to buy tickets right now, you’ll probably have to opt for the VIP pass, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,500!
Last year, LIB sold 137,350 tickets over three days. This year the organizers have put together an even better lineup and tickets have been selling like crazy. It’s quite likely they’ll end the three days with more than 150,000 festival goers.
The event pulled in over 135,000 attendees on opening night and the concert was a hit. However, it was marred by a heatwave and the death of an attendee.
There’s been a lot of uproar over drug use at music festivals, especially electronic dance festivals. Paramedics are often on hand to treat overdoses and drug-related issues. Some concerned critics have even suggested mandatory drug tests, but would be a bridge too far and drive away many potential attendees.
If you’re in the desert during the height of summer, don’t be surprised when the mercury shoots off the end of your thermometer. Temperatures spiked at 109 degree this year, possibly contributing to the death of a festival goer. Rumor has it the world is only getting hotter, so stay hydrated!
Las Vegas Motor Speedway has played host to EDC for some time, but festival goers and Vegas locals can’t seem to get over how bad the traffic is during the event. Perhaps the organizers will change the location to appease the angry drivers, but the Motor Speedway is a good home for the event in almost all other regards.
EDC doesn’t just set up a festival; it creates a whole town! This year we saw a post office opening up and even a chapel for your cliche, spur-of-the-moment Vegas wedding. Next year we’re sure to see some new additions, like a yoga studio for some relaxation before the wild nights. Or a mini-mall to fulfill your shopping needs!
It’s a long-shot, but my favorite would be a pet store for those times when you’re at a rave and feel like buying a puppy. Which is all of them.
Who says electronic music is a young man’s scene?
Carl Cox is at the cusp of 60 and still spearheading the electronica industry. He’s a true ambassador of the genre, and as long as he’s still kicking, expect him to grace events like Electric Daisy Carnival.
DJ Khaled’s set at EDC was a trainwreck-and-a-half. The affable DJ showed up late and put on a lackluster performance, prompting boos and jeers from the crowd. Khaled hit back at the festival, claiming that they attempted to sabotage his set.
Khaled and EDC may bury the hatchet in the future, but for now it seems they’re ready to go their own separate ways.
Complaints of bad traffic, lack of shuttles, and overbearing heat resulted in lower-than-expected ticket sales this year. Insomniac’s CEO, Pasquale Rotella, addressed the complaints and promised better for next year.
It’s not Fyre Festival-level bad, but for a show that charges almost a thousand dollars for VIP tickets, more is expected. If changes aren’t made, we could see another year of low ticket sales.
In order to deal with some of the extant logistical issues, the event organizers have floated the idea of a two-weekend event. It’s a solution to the problems they’ve had with traffic, crowds, lines, and access to medical help.
It’s still no ordinary festival, though. It’s more like a flash-flood of alternative civilisation, which features a different theme each year and disappears just as quickly as it crops up. Par example: this year’s festival is apparently going to include a “gummy bear pyramid,” which you can bet will be munchie-ed out of existence in no time flat.
The theme “Radical Ritual” was announced for this year, and that leaves a lot of options open for attendees. Last year’s theme, “DaVinci’s Workshop,” brought about a large-scale interpretation of the Vitruvian Man, fully fitted with a wheel and gear system.
Radical Ritual will likely pay its respects to the indigenous peoples of the land, showcasing their art, food, and cultures.
Burning Man has become particular popular in Silicon Valley, and the tech elite have made it their playground. We could see Elon Musk or even Mark Zuckerberg rocking their best Mad Max costume in the desert. Performance artist Marina Abramović has always had a thing for radical rituals, so she could make an appearance as well.
Back in 2015, prominent LSD activist Timothy Leary showed up. “Wait, didn’t he die?” you’re asking. Yes. Susan Sarandon brought him. In an urn. It was basically the Burning Man version of Weekend at Bernie’s.
You’re in the desert and you see a gummy bear pyramid, what do you do? It goes without saying that at least a few people will try to take a bite. Susan Sarandon might be one of them.
We shouldn’t expect deadmau5 or Calvin Harris to play at the event, but more avant-garde DJs and electronic musicians will be making performances. Musicians like Norman Cook, Maceo Plex, Nic Fanciulli, and Seth Troxler have pushed the boundaries of their respective genres, and would make for a great show at Burning Man.
Burning Man is the battleground of a bitter culture war. There’s been a strong backlash from the purists who have attended the event for years. To them, what started as a subculture has devolved into a costume party, and the event has turned into yet another hedonistic festival.
Tensions came to a boil last year when a luxurious “sound camp” by the name of “White Ocean” was trashed by furious attendees. This is probably just the start of what will be a hard-fought battle.
Featured photo: Global Stomping (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]
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