Monday, October 27, 2014

Life is Beautiful

First: I am the worst at blogging. I apologize for the prolonged absence. The past two weeks have been extraordinarily stressful, and I don't really want to talk about them. Fortunately, they are over now, and the only lasting damage is a mild cold. What's more, I had a lovely weekend to make up for them, and I'm happy to talk about that.

In case you didn't know, I am magical. Through my magic powers*, I was able to attend the Life is Beautiful festival for free this weekend--as a VIP, no less. What is Life is Beautiful? It is the Lollapalooza of Las Vegas, featuring three days of top-notch musical acts, food from many of Vegas' world-class chefs, and oodles of public art, all sprawling through the vintage neon cityscape of downtown. My VIP status gave me access to oversized Jenga, free drinks, and much nicer bathrooms.

And now: mini-reviews!

Girl Talk: I like listening to Girl Talk, mostly because I believe he has good taste in the music that he samples. As is the trouble with seeing any DJ live, however, I had to wonder whether he just pressed play on his computer and then jumped around. High energy though. Plus, I finally broke my consistent missing-Girl-Talk's-set-at-festivals streak.

Jenny Lewis: I didn't know she was a Vegas local, but apparently it is so. Talented lady, solid set. Best part was the blues-y medley in the middle.

Neon Trees: I hate their music, but their frontman's stage banter is hilarious. If they haven't covered Queen or Billy Idol before, they need to, ASAP.

The Head and The Heart: Say what you will about hipster-folk, but I thought their set was wonderful. They were clearly having a great time; the crowd was clearly having a great time. "Rivers and Roads" was so pretty I almost wanted to cry.

Kanye West: I got to see a real live Kanye rant! It was only 15 minutes or so, though. I feel the same way about Kanye that I've always felt about Kanye--I think he's consistently creative, and cares about what he's doing, but I still don't like many of his songs. I was psyched about "Gold Digger," though. Brought me back to senior prom. Wish I could have heard more songs from Yeezus, but I missed the beginning of the set.

The Roots: I imagine The Roots must be the safest festival-booking bet ever. You know they're going to draw a crowd, you know they're going to put on a good show. Danceable, for sure. Extremely talented, all. They covered Guns N' Roses, which was unexpected.

Lionel Richie: I only stayed for a few minutes, because I don't really care. I suppose they probably booked him to get middle-aged tourists on vacation to come to the festival for a day. From what I hear it was great. People were enthusiastic about the prospect of a conga line.

Kimbra: Didn't stay long here, either. I hadn't really heard her stuff before, and I'm thinking it would sound better recorded than it did live. I'll have to try it sometime.

Alt-J: For some reason I was under the impression that I didn't like Alt-J. My impression was entirely incorrect. I loved their whole set, and now I'm probably going to listen to them nonstop for weeks. They sound like the soundtrack for a gritty Robin Hood reboot.

Matt & Kim: I was too short to really see anything, but they sure sounded like they were having fun.

The Flaming Lips: It was a tough call to go see Flaming Lips over Outkast, but I knew they'd put on a colorful, glittery, confetti-filled show, and I was not disappointed. The crowd was weirdly small, so I was right up front. Plus, they played "The W.A.N.D.," which is one of my favorites.

Tune-Yards: I don't really like her/their new album, but man was I excited to hear "Gangsta" live.

Broken Bells: I was very sad to miss Trampled by Turtles, but I'd never seen Broken Bells before. A great set, complete with giant bouncy balls. I still like The Shins better, though.

St. Paul & the Broken Bones: I was pretty excited to see these guys, as I'm a sucker for a good soul band. The music was awesome, but the lead singer left me wondering where the line is between acknowledgement of someone like James Brown as an influence and full-on blackface parody, minus the actual makeup. The mostly-white crowd didn't help; I wish I could have made a giant sign that said "check your privilege." Anyway, they were fun, but they were no J.C. Brooks & The Uptown Sound. Obviously.

And that was that! A fantastic weekend. Unfortunately real life resumed today, so now I have to go grade papers. So many. I suppose I can't complain.

*By "magic powers" I of course mean "awesome friends." Thank you, awesome friend. 

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