This Downtown-centric festival celebrated Las Vegas’ two best-known bands.
Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds was all boyish energy. He played multiple drums, pounded his fist in the air and launched T-shirts into the audience. He seemed to be as excited to be on the festival’s largest stage as the audience was to see him there. It was as if his former haunt, the Beauty Bar’s outdoor venue–mere blocks away and in the festival footprint–had magically expanded to hold the audience he’d always imagined. This fever dream came to a climax with final song, “Radioactive,” in which the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère performed onstage. The whimsically costumed drummers and acrobats created a fabulous Vegas apocalypse vibe.
If Imagine Dragons were like exuberant puppies, the Killers were well-trained purebreds finally ready to vie for Best in Show. Starting with intro music “Luck Be a Lady,” and continuing through a bombastic set, the performance announced, “This is how you be a Vegas band.” With his star-patterned shirt, “Viva Las Vegas” cover and commanding stage presence, Brandon Flowers has grown into his legacy of a Vegas showman.
The rest of the band looked the part of classic-rock gods with their long hair blowing in the breeze, silhouetted in front of glowing video screens while confetti cannons produced multiple clouds of Battle Born-logo lightning bolts and letter ‘K’s. The dance party really only slowed down for a classy tribute to the Killers’ influencer and collaborator Lou Reed, who had died that morning. A cascade of fireworks, which were reminiscent of a casino implosion, punctuated the encore. At the end, when the show and festival were over, drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. was the last to leave the stage. He had played his heart out, and now he exited, tossing a seemingly neverending supply of drumsticks into the audience. Then he paused at the last microphone and said the words that would close the festival, “Tell all your friends.”
The Killers–our music scene’s success story–with their well-known anthemic pop songs and declarative style, was the finale we needed for Life Is Beautiful. An affirmation of Las Vegas’ permanence, amid all its changes. ★★★★☆