It's over, complete, done, caput, gonzo... three glorious days of festival. I'm sitting on a plane headed back to Austin in a somewhat bewildered, exhausted haze, relishing the experience, the music, the people, new friends and the glorious, beautiful, incredible photos I'm taking home. It was like a technicolor dream. The best of the music world coalescing into one fantastical, gritty, neon celebration. I've survived Life Is Beautiful 2018; experienced Vegas' slant on the worldwide festival phenomena and folks, they've done it right.
I won't lie; these were long days. LiB is a lot to take in. Attending any festival of this size is physically challenging, and three days straight takes its' toll. I wasn't even there as an attendee. I can't imagine how our hungover revelers are feeling right about now. My feet hurt, I'm mildly sunburnt and I feel like a mac truck ran over me. But it's all worth it; taking part in something so communally monumentous, so artistically, creatively beautiful. From endless miles of walking (and sometimes sprinting) between stages and attractions, and from carrying heavy gear bags and from contorting myself to photograph only the best angles (yup, us photogs do ridiculous things in the name of getting that angle). You've gotta be gritty to succeed as a festival photographer. But I've made amazing new friends, an overwhelm of amazing memories and a camera full of monumental images. I don't really even need take-home souvenirs, but of course I nabbed some cool swag anyway. Somehow through the exhaustion, I also feel like it was over too soon. There were so many things I didn't get to see. You certainly don't run out of beautiful things to see and do at this festival.
The music itself was divine. I can't count the moments where I stopped and wondered "how did they even get this lineup?" Telling you about the quirky, raw rock-n-roll exuberance of Arcade Fire would be an obvious start, but what stood out in many ways were the smaller up-and-coming bands and artists. Fletcher set a stunning golden poppy precedence early in the day, and I was equally entranced with Vegas' own O Wildly, a shiningly relevant example of American rock n' roll embraced by the younger generation. We fell in love with LAUV's smooth, romantic jazzy electronica, and again with Lovelytheband's endless boppy energy. T-Pain showed us what real hip-hop is about (despite tech issues) on the Bacardi stage, and later won us over with a soulful acoustic set in his super-secret popup show in the Bacardi lounge. Were you one of the 100-odd people lucky enough to catch it? (Check out yours truly, photographer extraordinaire, lower center --> ).
Bastille delivered a larger-than-life compendium of their always fantastic Brit-pop, and I slipped by the Huntridge stage in time to catch the Neon jungle's own gritty, sexy alt rockers, The Dirty Hooks. I wrapped up the night with a 'holy wow, what-just-happened?' set from Tyler the Creator and then the resonantly epic energy of the Odesza experience before stopping by the Fremont stage to find myself entranced by the tail end of Cashmere Cat's set. Then it was on to the aforementioned Arcade Fire set, which still give me butterflies in my tummy.
What an incredibly kickass three days. From the exhilaration of photographing some of the biggest bands on the monster Downtown Stage, to the sheer size, color and diversity of the festival and its' offerings. My Life is Beautiful experience was nothing short of exhilarating. The lineup was everything. It was fire, it was electric, neon beauty, and it was a celebration of everything that makes the music world truly beautiful. With the addition of comedy, art and culinary offerings, it's an experience to behold. I'm humbled and honored to have been a part of the revelry this year and to have an opportunity to capture just a little slice of the magic of Life Is Beautiful. This is a happy little photographer. I'll post a festival gallery of images for you to enjoy, along with a full festival review in the coming days; once my aching body and useless brain have time to catch up and reflect. In the meantime, if you are considering attending this festival in the future, I highly recommend. Just be sure to rest up, hydrate and eat your wheaties, 'cause I'm sure that Life is Beautiful 2019 will be even bigger and better.
...See you there?