By now you’ve been able to sink your teeth into the star-studded lineup of Life is Beautiful 2018. Who are you excited for the most? Is it the edgy slow burn of The Weeknd? The dynamic, embellished indie rock of Arcade Fire? Maybe it’s the eclectic, soulful numbers of Florence + the Machine that resonate with you the most.
Either way, before you start making that schedule (day-to-day lineups are coming soon), we urge you to arrive early and lend an ear to Las Vegas’ homegrown talent, who are just as eclectic as the headliners. Let’s get to know them:
Respect to alums such as The Killers, Haim and Empire of the Sun who’ve come back to the festival years later to give us more doses of magic. This year, The Dirty Hooks is taking claim as the first returning local act on the bill. The gritty blues-rock trio rocked the Red Bull Sound Select Stage during Life is Beautiful’s inaugural year, and they’ll be making a triumphant return come September on the heels of a tour supporting Stone Temple Pilots.
Expect something different because five years later, things have changed sonically. The band hasn’t completely ditched the syncopated swing and swagger of songs such as “Dancing With A Train” and “Naked City Colt” from their 2012 album Electric Grit. Instead, it’s evolved. Listen to the driving southern twang of “Badland Saints,” for instance. If you haven’t heard the band, we suggest making room on your schedule. Dirty Hooks is known for its energetic live performances, and we have a feeling they’ll step things up a notch given the occasion.
Life is Beautiful’s mission is to inspire and celebrate beauty at the festival and beyond. There’s no better ambassador for that mission than local wordsmith Mike Xavier. After moving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 2015, the heat-seeking rapper has gone from playing open mics across the city to sold-out headlining gigs at Bunkhouse and Brooklyn Bowl. Xavier’s first full-length release, Visionary, is an aptly-named collection of ambitious tracks with a purpose that’s twofold: It showcases Xavier’s versatility, from spitting on the hard-hitting boom baps (“I Remember”) to emotional piano (“I Gotta Go”) and, most importantly, it’s meant to inspire, console and relate to its listeners.
“I’m just a man on a mission trying to make a difference,” he told local news station Fox 5. And though he’s mostly right, Xavier’s had some help on his musical journey from his son, Jaylyn Thai. In fact, Thai is known to hop on the mic and rap on recordings and during performances. Don’t be surprised if you catch the youngin’ working the crowd or spitting bars at the festival.
Life is Beautiful’s culinary lineup may bring some weird fusions (what’s really in a sushi burrito, anyways?), but if Southern-fried indie rock with pinches of blues, folk and soul please your palate, you’ll want to catch O Wildly. The quartet’s 2016 debut EP, Sunrise, showcased its ability to transcend the confines of indie, pop punk and good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll by blending the tasteful elements of each into a satisfying pulp. Listen to the spicy distorted leads of “The Battle of Yoko Ono” or the climactic instrumental bridge of “17 Hours” for a satisfying taste.
Now, the band is seeking to expand its sound. O Wildly’s latest single, “Road” features singer/guitarist Adam Christopher Smith showing off his singer/songwriter Americana influence with twangy vocals and wailing guitar leads. “Hey! Don’t take your eyes of the road,” he sings. We hope the band’s road to the festival is a smooth one.
Let’s be clear: This may be a local roundup, but 3LAU, a.k.a. Justin Blau is a global name. The progressive/electro house producer’s global listenership has allowed him to tour the world. During his short career, he’s already made stops at all of the high-profile festivals such as EDC, Ultra Europe, Sunset and more. In fact, Life is Beautiful 2018 is a stop on the producer’s run through the festival circuit, again. The success comes for good reason. 3LAU’s ever-evolving take on the genre puts the juxtaposition between canorous melodies and a pummeling rhythm section in the limelight. Whether it’s through the deep house groove of “Is It Love” (featuring Yeah Boy) or through the melodic bounce of his take on “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers and Daya, 3LAU’s formula has become infectious in his native city and beyond.
And though he might be home for the umpteenth time this year (he’s currently a Rehab resident and recently rocked Brooklyn Bowl), we think he’s got something special up his sleeve. Is he going to unveil a new track? Will he bring out a guest from his massive list of collaborators to perform a song live? Only time will tell. Let’s give him a proper homecoming.