Buffet is Beautiful

The city’s biggest festival is the sampler platter of the season

aE_fap_music_WEBEarlier this month, just before I moderated a “DTLV Players” panel at the Vegas Music Summit, I told festival founder Rehan Choudhry that I’d finally made up my mind to attend the Life Is Beautiful festival, which will consume the entirety of the Fremont East Entertainment District on October 26-27.

“You added Cults to the lineup,” I said. “That decided me.”

“That’s what tipped you over, huh?” he said. “You were just waiting for that one band?”

“Pretty much,” I said.

But then, as it will, the truth came out during the panel, when I congratulated Choudhry for putting on a huge festival at a low ticket price. “You’re providing a lot of bang for the buck,” I said, and Choudhry gave me a subtle grin that said, “You sneaky bastard.”

But I wasn’t kissing his ass, or helping him play to the crowd. I really do believe that Life Is Beautiful, as advertised, is a smoking deal. I grant you that $159 for a general admission pass, which covers both days of music—the culinary events seem to be on a different ticketing set—seems pretty steep for an outdoor festival, especially when you look at what the other guys are charging: A two-day pass to Los Angeles’ FYF Festival is $99, and a three-day pass to Seattle’s Bumbershoot is $140. But you can’t look at it that way. You’ve got to break it down.

First, look at the bands. Let’s assign each a ticket value of $20, the price of your average just-starting-out band at the Cosmopolitan pool. There are 10 artists that I know I’d like to see because I haven’t yet: Alabama Shakes, Capital Cities, Charli XCX, Earl Sweatshirt, Passion Pit, Portugal. The Man, Pretty Lights, Purity Ring, Vampire Weekend and, of course, Cults. Then there are those bands I wouldn’t mind seeing again: Beck, Childish Gambino, Jurassic 5, Living Colour and the Killers. Taken piecemeal, that’s already a $300 value, and I haven’t even considered those bands I might discover by accident, or the local artists I intend to support—your Kid Meets Cougars, your Sabriels, your Dirty Hookses.

Also, say you were going to FYF or Bumbershoot. That’s, what, at least a couple hundred bucks worth of travel expenses? We’re paying a few extra bucks for Life Is Beautiful so we don’t have to mobilize. And when we hook up with some drunk partier from Phoenix or L.A., we have the luxury of doing so on our own turf, where friends can bail us out if that person turns out to be a fucking loon.

I know this is a simpleminded argument, the whole line-item thing. (It’s the same I used to employ on friends who insisted that Disneyland is too expensive to visit.) But there’s one thing that $159 pays for that can’t be quantified here: civic pride. During the Vegas Music Summit panel, Choudhry noted that only 4,000 tickets were sold to locals during the 2007 Vegoose festival, the one that featured Daft Punk, the Stooges and Queens of the Stone Age. “That’s the capacity of the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan,” he said. And it’s a piss-poor showing for a music festival that featured Daft Punk’s last North American concert appearance. We need to pony up to mitigate that embarrassment.

Music festivals are buffets. That’s all they are. You don’t pay a premium for one item, like hot-lamp roast beef or Imagine Dragons; you pay to gorge yourself on a little bit of everything. It’s the experience of sampling. The musical bites of Life Is Beautiful will keep you satisfied for at least a month. And if that’s not enough, well, there’s a “Culinary Crawl” add-on beginning at $130 per day. Wait, $130 per day? That’s outrageous!

Life is Beautiful

Featuring music, food, art and learning; Downtown Las Vegas; Oct. 26-27; $159.50 and up. Visit LifeIsBeautifulFestival.com for lineup and tickets.

The Look of Life Is Beautiful

The just-announced art programming for the Downtown cultural festival goes high-brow, low-brow and a little bit Warholian. Curated by Charlotte Dutoit, the Rise Above street art program imports talent from around the world, including Vhils from Portugal, D*Face from the U.K. and La Pandilla from Puerto Rico. Las Vegas art titan Patrick Duffy curates The Odyssey: A Visual Art Experience, which will feature a variety of artists, including Wendy Kveck, Adam Morey and Eric Tillinghast. Finally, Dean & Britta will do a multimedia performance of 13 Most Beautiful … Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. – Cindi Moon Reed

Back to Fall Arts Preview.