The Scene: Life is Beautiful Festival 2021
By / September 29, 2021

It’s been two long years since Life is Beautiful last lit up downtown Las Vegas with a blast of art and sound, but the festival didn’t miss a beat as LiB returned for its ninth edition with 100+ artists, 4 big stages of music, and loads of unique art installations.

The first thing that stands out about Life is Beautiful is that it doesn’t take place at a venue in downtown Las Vegas – downtown Las Vegas is the venue. Eighteen full blocks are cordoned off so the festival not only features typical stages, but also highlights local businesses like Atomic Liquors and Mothership Coffee Roasters.

The other amazing thing about LiB that makes an impact are the numerous street murals. For nearly a decade, LiB has been inviting artists from around the world to beautify the walls of downtown Las Vegas so that even after the tunes are done, the art from the celebration can still be found all over the city.

Musical Highlights

Megan Thee Stallion: Wow. If you guessed that this would be a high-energy show, then you guessed right. Megan took the stage at 100% and never let up. It was, as she might put it, some serious hot girl shit.

St. Vincent: Annie Clark returns with an all new stage show combining quirky sets and funky costumes with some trademark guitar shredding. Easily, my favorite set of the weekend.

Billie Eilish: While not a big fan of her mumblecore pop, Billie Eilish can certainly headline a show. When she walked out onto the long walkway, I thought the crowd was going to explode – and then the walkway turned out to be a crane lifting her twenty feet over the screaming fans and the place went bonkers.

Steve Vai: The JammJam promised a set of freeform improvisation, but could have used just a wee bit of practice. We found ourselves drifting away until the host Jacob Collier shouted “do any of you like guitar?” And then Steve Vai came out on stage and just started ripping it up.

Death From Above 1979: After spending the weekend in the proximity of the two main stages, it was amazing to get up close and personal with DFA 1979 who took the smaller crowd on a sonic journey proving you don’t need need large sets or a large stage to make an impact.

The Meh

Young Thug: Showing up 30 minutes late is never a good look at a festival, where not only have the fans made time to see you, but they are also choosing not to see something else. The set was okay if only to see Young Thug dancing on top of a gigantic spider in a glass cage, but coming on in between a stellar Sunday of SHAED, St. Vincent, and Billie Eilish threw off the energy of the final night’s main stage.

Schedule Conflicts: I’m not a fan of the two biggest stages happening at the same time as it means making some hard choices. I would have liked to see my first Illenium show, but at the same time I’m not going to miss Green Day. The two stages aren’t that far apart, but at night when the venue is packed, it takes some time to get from end to end. Just be prepared when you are getting stoked during the lineup announcement craze, that you are going to miss about half the big names.

Tips For LiB

Dress for the heat: 
It may be September, but it’s still the desert. Temperatures climbed to nearly 100 degrees during the day. While gates open in the early afternoon, the fest doesn’t feel like it kicks into high gear until about 5:00 pm and then it’s a full on tilt until about 1:00 am. If you are sensitive to the heat, you might consider going later on in the day.

For food, the earlier the better
The lines tend to get super crazy during the evening, and honestly, you should be focused on running between stages. There’s a variety of food trucks and stalls across the entire venue, although I preferred to dig into a Stripcheeze almost every night.

Prepare for the Vegas resort scam
I’m not even sure how this is legal, but nearly every property in Vegas advertises a false nightly rate by burying a host of mandatory fees and taxes in the final price. In general, whatever price you see listed for a nightly rate has another $40 tacked onto it.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I was blown away by the inventiveness of Life Is Beautiful and haven’t ever really seen a downtown festival experience quite like this. DTLV has an undeserved reputation as the seedy side of Vegas, but I found it charming enough to extend my trip well past the festival to hang out around the area. If you want to plan a legendary Vegas vacation with friends, you can’t go wrong aiming for Life is Beautiful. Dates for the 22nd edition of the festival have been announced for September 16-18, 2022.

Born during a backstage Bonnaroo downpour, Vito's mission in life is to dance, write, and travel to all the great festivals that this wide world has to offer.