It’s hard to top the epic line-up that occurred Day One at Las Vegas’ Life Is Beautiful festival, but a combination of Lionel Richie, J Roddy Walston & The Business, Fitz and the Tantrums, OK Go, excellent learning center speakers, pop-up events like FitMob (see cover image above) and many more took us over the edge for one fantastic Saturday night. Make sure to follow us on Instagram (highvoltagemagazine) and Twitter (@highvoltagemag) to get live updates.
Chelsea’s Day Two
Took a casual approach to today’s schedule to absorb the non-musical happenings around Life is Beautiful. So, not knowing what to expect, the day was started inside the Western Hotel by visiting the Learning Stage. Currently on stage was Andy Grignon, a man who helped create the iPhone (amongst other cool things like webOS). Here was a guy who understands the struggle for a dream, nearly losing everything to have everything all while getting to watch & learn from one of our generation’s great leaders Steve Jobs. Grignon actually seemed to pick up some of Jobs’ speaking charm. He also encouraged all of us to sharpen our story, that no two paths are alike (so make your own) and to make sure you fail in an interesting way. All of this before David J. Peterson, who created the spoken/written Dothraki language heard in Game of Thrones, led us in a Dothraki sing-along to Frozen‘s Let It Go. It just doesn’t get much better (or nerdier) than that. Loved it!
A few hours later found me soaking up the knowledge and smells coming from Chefs On Stage (that’s the name of the stage) where Chef Jonathan Waxman and Chef Nancy Silverton were making Cioppino and a few dipping sauces to go with it (pesto, salsa romesco and black olive tapenade). Aside from the initial few minutes where we watched Chef Jonathan kill a live crab by ripping it’s shell apart with his bare hands (the crab was not happy, and his claws were not bound together either), it was very informative and entertaining. As someone who burns ramen noodles (it happened one time), learning that zest was shavings from the outside-color-portion of a fruit was mind-blowing; And Chef Nancy’s approach to garlic bread seemed easier than melting butter/margarine with garlic and spreading it thinly over the bread before baking.
But the day wasn’t only filled with educational demonstrations and speakers: OK Go took to the main stage with fancy video screen tricks, lots of confetti and a full on dance party. Lead singer Damian Kulash, Jr had even changed into a Lionel Richie t-shirt and encouraged everyone to catch Lionel’s set; as if we weren’t already going. J. Roddy Walston & The Business got the Western stage rockin’ with their old-fashioned piano rock ‘n roll meets Black Keys jams. Even the frat boys were charging their way through the crowd to the already packed front row to get their boogie on.
Jessica’s Day Two
There is a special place in heaven reserved for rockin’ UK bands, and on the last show of their current US Tour Catfish and the Bottlemen have earned their spot there. Four young, long-haired Englishmen have won American’s heart with their British charm, good looks and rock n roll tunes. Sound familiar? Yes and no. Despite their charm and youthful appearance, the band’s music tells the true tales of experienced grown men. Don’t get any ideas about inviting them to meet your mother for tea because these boys are rough and so are their tunes.
How do you follow up such an act? With some good ol’ Southern hospitality and synth-pop rock from the band Paper Route of course. A band that could have almost instantly been dismissed because the amount of bass that could be felt in the crowd; it was enough to break a rib. Luckily for the band, the music was able to reach people and hit them metaphorically harder than the physical hit of the Huntridge’s stage bass levels as the tunes smoothly caressed your hips. Frontman J.T. Daly leads the band with a suave Robin Thicke type sex appeal vibe that when accompanied with the band’s music, he could probably get you to do anything. Being a true Southern gentlemen, he simply leads you to do what your body naturally wants to do, dance and enjoy!
As the night progressed, so did the dancing. On the complete other side of the festival, TV On The Radio fans needed no time to get warmed up. As soon as the band started playing, bodies started moving and grooving. Seeing a band live for the first time, and doing so alone always carries a small bit of anxiety as you could feel like an outsider in a sea of dedicated fans. Dancing, or even standing can become somewhat difficult by this point of the day, solidifying that your choice in shoes was probably not the best. But when Lionel Richie is playing at the opposite end of the festival in 15 minutes, you muster up every last bit of effort your feet have and make the journey. In the end it was all worth it.
Trina’s Day Two
Have you ever noticed how, when you’re in the heat of the moment, everything feels good? Great, even. It’s quite an amazing psychological/physical trick because, with legs that were protesting every subsequent step they took, those legs gladly participated in back-to-back dance parties courtesy of Misterwives and Fitz and the Tantrums. They’re only two years old as a band and on the strength of their EP, Reflections, NYC’s Misterwives has made good work of racking up fans by plying them with their infectious and soulful, danceable pop. On record, Mandy Lee has a set of healthy soprano pipes on her: live, those pipes are full and in your face and you might as well hashtag her with #NoAutotuneRequired. Making things even worse (translation, better) was their cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun:” such a perfect fit for Lees’ voice and damned if the girl didn’t look like she was having fun.
Next up: Fitz and the Tantrums who were making asses shake with abandon, hands clap on and off the beat and feet happy dance from the festival’s main stage. They’ve come a long way, baby, and in between these six seasoned and badass musicians dishing out tunes from their two albums Pickin’ Up The Pieces and More Than Just A Dream, frontman Fitz and his lady-partner (and one hell of a foodie) Noelle Scaggs were effusive and frequent with their gratitude for the audience making their dreams come true. “Spark,” “L.O.V.,” “Moneygrabber,” “The Walker:” all the necessary jams for the good time came out and the crowd gave back all the energy that the band gave out.
Over on the Downtown Stage where the bodies flowed well past the stage’s ground area and onto the sidewalk beyond it some guy named Lionel Richie was playing. FACT: The crowd for Richie’s set exceeded that of Kanye West’s the night before. And the Alabama native whose musical career has traversed from the funky soul of the Commodores in the 70s and 80s to R&B/pop/soft rock in the 80s and 90s to even – wait for it – Country in the 00s, was a perfect exemplification of how and why music endures. Richie’s music has been in the lives of (as Richie put it) “three separate groups of people,” all which were represented in the crowd. There were those who grew up playing Commodores records themselves, those who grew up playing Richie records themselves and those whose parents had Commodores and Richie music playing in the home. But when he performed songs like “Dancing On The Ceiling,” “Still,” “Sail On,” “Brick House,” “Easy,” “Stuck On You,” “Penny Lover,” “Fancy Dancer,” “Say You, Say Me” (Academy Award, anyone?) and then commanded us to be his Diana Ross in “Endless Love” it was unifying… and it was ridiculous. Ridiculous in the best possible way because, a) good God, that man has a hundred hit songs and, b) even those who don’t “know” Lionel Richie, knew Lionel Richie: the generational dots got connected no matter which group you fell into. And as a performer at 65 years old, Richie still brings his A-game to the stage like a young Commodore. What a pleasure and honor it was to finally see Lionel Richie live (and that goes for all three of us).