Life is Beautiful 2017 rolls into downtown Las Vegas this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited.
To be honest, it’s probably my favorite second-tier festival. After overcoming financial woes the first three years, the festival bounced back last year with a well-attended event that allowed them to return this year. To be honest, I thought last year’s lineup was the weakest they’ve had since starting the festival in 2013. They seemed to have found their footing, and this year’s festival sold out three-day passes for the first time in their existence.
That’s great news, because it really is a splendid festival. They put a lot of focus on more than just the music, and shine a bright light on the still up-and-coming downtown arts district in Las Vegas. Those that associate Las Vegas with the Strip-fueled Sin City persona need to give this area a shot.
Make sure you check out all of the art and learning experiences Life is Beautiful offers. But while Life is Beautiful 2017 is stacked with solid headliners like the Gorillaz, Chance the Rapper, and Muse, it’s got one of the deepest undercards of any festival taking place this year. Check out our list of six acts from the deep undercard you won’t want to miss!
Also a note — if you’re attending, LYFT is offering $5 off up to two rides for new AND existing customers using the code RIDELIB.
Shy Girls (4:20 to 5:05 — Ambassador Stage)
You’re probably aware of Dan Vidmar aka Shy Girls without even knowing it. featured on the ODESZA banger “All We Need” a few years back, but he’s an awesome producer in his own right. You could put his brand of music in the alt-R&B genre, but it’s more multi-faceted than that. His falsetto is otherworldly and there’s a reason he was handpicked to open for acts like HAIM and Little Dragon early in his career. His full-length record Salt dropped in January and is one of the better debut albums from this year.
Day Wave (5:35 to 6:25 — Ambassador Stage)
There’s always a place for good solid lo-fi indie rock while the heat is in full effect. A recent transplant to Echo Park, Jackson Phillips has Day Wave sounding like a mix of Alvvays and The Cure. Though he records all the instrumentation on his records, he brings a dope band with him when he plays live. I’ve already caught a couple of their festival sets the last few years and feel strongly they’ll make an impression if you’re a fan of quality jangly power pop.
Ella Vos (3:30 to 4:15 — Ambassador Stage)
Ella Vos has been getting her feet wet on the festival circuit this year with performances at Bonnaroo and Ohana Fest. She’s an up-and-coming talented alt-pop artist that has been catching some spotlight as of late. She’s got a little bit of Imogen Heap in her voice. She writes purposeful pop songs, like “You Don’t Know Me” — an empowering track that tackles a woman’s choice to do what she wants with her body. Her vocals mesh well with the minimal production that often accompanies it on her tracks. Look forward to getting in the gates early enough to see her.
BROODS (4:25 to 5:10 — Downtown Stage)
BROODS have lived in Los Angeles for a bit now, and you can sense the change in the sibling duo’s maturity based on their recent performances. Georgia Nott was 19 when they made their American debut at Bardot three years ago, older brother Caleb was 21. Two full-length albums later, their sound and live show has risen to new heights. They’re a perfect mid-day set that will energize the crowd. They know how to write catchy synthpop bangers with the best of them.
Middle Kids (4:15 to 5:00 — Ambassador Stage)
This is a band whose live show has been eluding me for the last year or so since I first really discovered them. When Middle Kids were in LA, I was not. They’ll be at the Teragram Ballroom at the end of the month on Sept. 28, so catch them if you can in a few weeks. I’m hoping they mix in this pretty impressive cover of blink-182 at their Life is Beautiful set, considering the influential power-pop band will be performing at the fest Friday. Their own sound is splendid, Hannah Joy’s vocals are unique and satisfying, and they fucking rock. “Edge of Town” is one of my favorite indie rock songs of the past few years.
TOKiMONSTA (5:35 to 6:35 — Fremont Stage)
Forget talking about how talented TOKiMONSTA is for a second. Let’s talk about how it’s amazing that she’s able to even do what she does. A week ago, Pitchfork had the story from TOKi herself how she lost her speaking abilities as well as her ability to understand music following brain surgery. It’s a story that you should invest your time in, it’s truly inspirational. As a producer, she’s one of the fastest rising in recent years and she’s put in her time to get to this position. A sold-out show at The Wiltern on Sept. 22 is proof she’s arrived.