Whether you like rock, hip hop or electronica, whether your idea of “classic” is 1994, 1984 or 1974, you’ll find room under the big musical umbrella to be put up again in downtown Las Vegas. Life is Beautiful, the biggest Las Vegas music and art festival of the summer, is diversifying in 2015 to expand its demographic appeal.
Festival promoters have crafted a multi-genre lineup for 2015 that appeals to music lovers of all generations. Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Hozier and Brandon Flowers, all current top acts, will share top billing with the ageless Stevie Wonder. Duran Duran, the reawakened giant of the early MTV generation in the 1980s, adds depth to the top tier, as do two more still-relevant acts, Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie.
In 2014, the three-day music and art festival drew more than 60,000 fans to downtown Las Vegas—where four stages will again be set up for the 2015 festival. That 15-block area is home to Binion’s, the Golden Nugget and many other classic hotel-casino operations. Promoters hope their expanded outreach brings even larger crowds to the event, which in 2015 will take place September 25-27.
To that end, in addition to scheduling legends and old favorites, festival planners brought aboard Insomniac Events, which promotes Electric Daisy Carnival and other electronic dance music festivals. Insomniac’s influence will be evident: One of the four stages will exclusively feature EDM, and some of the electro-pop acts will appear on the main stages as well. Major Lazer headlines the EDM lineup at the 2015 Life is Beautiful festival. Other noted acts include Kygo and Porter Robinson. Las Vegas also is an Electric Daisy Carnival location. In 2015, the event is June 19-21.
The festival benefits from the connection that two of its headliners feel with their hometown. Imagine Dragons, the Grammy- and American Music Award-winning rock band most famous for the song “Radioactive,” was formed in Las Vegas. Dan Reynolds, its front man, was born there. Flowers, the lead singer for another Las Vegas-based group, The Killers, and also an emerging solo star, was born in nearby Henderson, Nevada. The Killers performed as a group at the first festival in 2013.
Other past top musical acts who have performed at Life is Beautiful include Foo Fighters, Kanye West, and even Lionel Richie. But the 2015 headline list raises the bar for capturing hot-as-they-come current acts to share a bill with one of the recording industry’s all-time titans.
Imagine Dragons sells out venue after venue, as does Hozier, the Irish-born singer-songwriter. Hozier’s worldwide hit “Take Me To the Church” appeared at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs list for 23 consecutive weeks, tying “Radioactive” for the longest run at the top of that chart. Flowers comes to Life is Beautiful powered by momentum from his second solo album, “The Desired Effect,” with debuted as the United Kingdom’s No. 1 album upon its May 2015 release.
Kendrick Lamar may be the hottest of them all. In 2015 he’s won Grammys for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, released an album (“To Pimp a Butterfly”) that opened at No. 1 overall on the U.S. Billboard 200, and scored a No. 1 single for the official remix of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.”
Yet those triumphs combined amount to an asteroid in any solar system where Stevie Wonder is the sun. Though blind almost since birth, Stevie Wonder became a self-taught multi-instrumentalist by age 10, a recording artist by 12 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by well before 50. A 25-time individual Grammy winner, he’s cultivated fans for more than a half-century with songs like like “For Once in My Life” and “My Cherie Amour” in the ’60s to “Sir Duke” in the ’70s to “I just Called to Say I Love You” in the’80s to “For Your Love” in the ’90s. Also a noted humanitarian, in 2014 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Stevie Wonder’s presence lends musical muscle to a festival known for more than music. Artists, celebrity chefs and inspirational speakers also participate. In 2014, the 20 or so celebrity chefs included Scott Conant of Chopped and Top Chef fame. The more than 25 artists included Aaron Sheppard and Audrey Barcio. The almost 40 speakers and presenters ranged from zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh to Penn & Teller.
In addition to the live music and electronica performers mentioned above, the festival music card includes DJ Snake, Atmosphere, Twenty One Pilots, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Metric, Awolnation, Walk the Moon, RL Grime, Run the Jewels, Rebulution, Griz, Future Islands, Soja, Royal Blood, Madeon, Glass Animals, Lindsey Stirling, Clean Bandit, Badbadnotgood & Ghostface Killah, Best Coast, Robin Schulz, The Green, Tchami, SZA, Against Me!, Dan Deacon, Meg Myers, Tommy Trash, New Politics, Two Gallants, Ryn Weaver, Yellow Claw, Shamir, Cashmir Cat, What So Not, Big Data, Elle King, Jauz, Saint Motel, BØrns, X Ambassadors, Klingande, Halsey, Salva, Leiklei47, The London Souls, Mija, Kaleo, Giraffage, Andra Day, Mercer, Night Terrors of 1927, Parade of Lights, Peking Duk, Jared & The Mill, Miics, and Mercy Music.