Unlike day one of the Life is Beautiful Festival, where the spotlight was focused primarily on Stevie Wonder, the second day of festivities featured a wide variety of performances that included a pair of living legends, a superstar on the cusp and a rousing homecoming for one of Sin City’s very own.
The searing desert heat continued to pound the pavement but didn’t deter a massive turnout that appeared to nearly dwarf the attendance of opening night. From the hip-hop stylings of Ab Soul and Metric’s synthpop-meets-indie rock to Glass Animals’ indietronica and the pulsating EDM vibes that emanated from Carnage’s late night DJ set, there was literally something for everyone on the festival’s second day.
22-year-old Chance the Rapper’s meteoric rise over the course of the past couple of years was felt as fans rushed the stage for the Chicago emcee, who was backed by his lively band The Social Experiment, rolling through selections from his Acid Rap mixtape and recently released Surf. With Donnie Trumpet wailing away at the instrument he shares a moniker with, Chance oozed of vibrant energy as he bounced through songs including the raucous “Juice” and the silky smooth “Cocoa Butter Kisses.” The new father even busted out a MC Hammer-like typewriter dance across the stage.
Speaking of artists who ran the industry before Chancelor Bennett uttered his first word, Snoop Dogg — who resides in Las Vegas — saw a colossal turnout at the Ambassador stage that perhaps proved to be a logistical error by the festival’s scheduling committee, as festivalgoers spilled into the streets and the areas where food was sold. The stage wasn’t built for this type of turnout and was without accompanying big screens that would have helped the swelling crowd see Uncle Snoop rumble through two decades of hits.
Accompanied by Tha Dogg Pound’s Daz & Kurupt, the slick-talking Long Beach rapper dove right into his doggy bag of classics from his debut Doggystyle with “What’s My Name,” “Pump Pump” and “Tha Shiznit” before Kurupt provided assistance on “Ain’t No Fun” and followed up by rolling into his 1998 single “We Can Freak It.”
The 43-year-old also delivered with some of his more pop-oriented hits, with his guest spots on Katy Perry’s “California Girls” and Akon’s “F— You” and had everyone dancing in the street to “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Even though he was difficult to see, it wasn’t hard to vibe out to Big Snoop’s collection of hits.
And, of course, he closed out with a message for marijuana legalization, courtesy of his collaboration with fellow weed enthusiast Wiz Khalifa on “Young, Wild & Free” before closing with Bob Marley’s “Jammin.”
For those who wanted to inhale some rock nostalgia, Duran Duran brought their New Wave essence to the main stage and showcased choice selections from their 14-album catalog.
The English band proved throughout the duration of their set that they still have it with a high energy performance that spanned the course of their stellar discography. From the dance groove of “The Reflex” to the 1981 chart topper “Girls on Film,” Duran Duran had no trouble keeping a mostly younger demographic engaged.
Although “Pressure Off” still doesn’t quite pack the synthpop power of their legendary catalog, the single from their recently released Paper Gods album still resonated with the younger crowd. However, when the band’s classics — including “Notorious,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Why Don’t You Use It” — rang out, the Simon Le Bon-led band was firing on all cylinders.
The city of Las Vegas is far more renowned for the entertainment that it brings in rather than the talent that it puts out — which is why Imagine Dragons‘ performance had more sentimental value than many other performances from the band.
“I can’t tell you how good it feels to be home in Las Vegas,” Dragons front man Dan Reynolds said during the 90-minute set. It wasn’t but a few years ago when the band was playing in the cozy confines of O’Sheas Casino and various lounges in the city before they broke through with “It’s Time” in 2011. Obviously, things have changed, as the band has collected various awards and plays to massive crowds regularly. Yet and still, this night was special, as Reynolds pointed out that his mother was in the crowd before roaring into “Warriors” and the arena-ready “Demons.”
The bandmates continued to touch on their history performing in Vegas as they performed a cover of The Proclaimers‘ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” which Reynolds revealed was the first cover song the band learned how to play.
When the clock reached midnight, the heat that consumed the festival had finally died down — but Imagine Dragons was still fired up with scintillating performances of “I Bet My Life” and “On Top of the World.” By the time they powered through the song nobody can get away from in “Radioactive,” the festival crowd maintained just enough strength to howl through the hook. The band disappeared into the night briefly before an explosion of confetti filled up the air for an encore performance of “The Fall.”
It was the perfect ending to night two of Life Is Beautiful and a wonderful homecoming for the city’s most successful rock band.