Sunday was a high-energy close-out to the 2022 Life Is Beautiful festival, known for marrying music, art, food and comedy and delivering an eclectic lineup that touches all genres. The third day of the event, which blankets 18 blocks in the urban downtown core of Las Vegas, welcomed an all-star list of music’s top acts, including Calvin Harris, Jack Harlow, Dermot Kennedy, Big Boi, Beach House and Becky Hall, just to name a few. In between seeing these electric sets, the 170,000 estimated attendees sampled food from local restaurants, drank batched cocktails, attended exclusive dinners, snapped selfies in front of murals and laughed hard during comedy sets.
On the Downtown Stage, Calvin Harris ruled the night with a biggest-hits set that even shook the concrete from the bounce of the crowd. Hot from a one-night-only performance Saturday at Wynn Las Vegas, the Scottish DJ made his return to the town that could be called his second home. For 90 minutes he lit through his catalog, reminding everyone just how many chart-toppers he has and why he is the top-paid DJ in the world. (He has Vegas to thank for many of those paychecks.) Giving the crowd more than “One Kiss,” all his staples were present. “We Found Love” prompted an epic sing-along and “Feels So Close” is so infectious it never leaves your head after hearing it at that level. While he certainly doesn’t need bells and whistles — the music speaks for itself — all the production elements came through from pyro to lasers and back again. This was the feel-good set you want to send people on their way after three days of heavy festing.
More from Billboard
Right before Harris, Jack Harlow dominated the same stage with a set that rivaled Post Malone’s 2019 Life Is Beautiful closer. Proving the theory that Las Vegas drives the energy up, his Sunday turn was a stronger showing than his other festival performances this year. Wearing slim trousers and a turtleneck, he showcased his growing repertoire of hits, including “Way Out,” “Tyler Herro,” “Whats Poppin” and, of course, his Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s “Industry Baby” (sans Lil Nas X) and “First Class.” In addition to incredibly fluid rapping skills, Harlow also sang for a bit and dove into the crowd, creating a shockwave of excitement. He has gripped a hungry fanbase and we expect it to only amplify.
There’s nothing quite like hearing “B.O.B.” live, and Big Boi brought that joy to a crowd that ate up its rapid-fire cadence. This sunset performance on the Downtown Stage was equal parts solo work and Outkast — ”Rosa Parks”, “Ms. Jackson” — and can be filed under auditory bliss for those devotees of the Atlanta sound that the rapper defined throughout much of the ’90s and ’00s. He called out the energy of the crowd, noting that everyone was getting “hype in the desert.”
On the Bacardi Stage, indie rockers Beach House slowed the crowd’s heartbeat with a dreamy set, created in front of a starry sky projection. Irish pop sensation Dermot Kennedy, who also took in the Las Vegas Raiders game during the day, showed up 15 minutes late to the stage, but that was soon forgotten when he played “Outnumbered.” Kennedy’s set was emotional, soulful and all about love, the good kind and the bad.
On the Fremont Stage, Becky Hill’s glittery outfit channeled a disco ball, which we can only imagine was a sizzling wardrobe choice given how high the temperatures reached in the tented area.
On the Huntridge Stage, Rico Nasty got down and dirty, amping the crowd up with hits “Smack a Bitch” and “Poppin.” Russian feminist rockers Pussy Riot brought a dominatrix-nun theme to their set. They played the Ukrainian national anthem, called for the fall of Putin and stood up loud and proud for abortion rights. Featured as a speaker at the festival in 2014, Nadya Tolokonnikova is always one step ahead of the conversation when it comes to women’s rights, though the issues may change from year to year.
Throughout the weekend, rising country stars were well-represented at the Western venue, in partnership with Stoney’s Rockin’ Country. ACM new artist of the year nominee Tenille Arts headlined. The Canadian singer is best known for “Somebody Like That.”
On the culinary side, Chef Gina Marinelli, of locally renowned restaurants La Strega and Harlo Steakhouse & Bar, was the third and final chef to host the exclusive Omakase Cantina. A dinner series with roughly 2 dozen seats, Marinelli created an ’80s-style TV dinner inspired by “Stranger Things,” featuring wagyu beef, caviar and Eggo waffles. The previous night, Alan Mardonovich of Momofuku plated crispy eggplant and duck breast with crispy rice for festivalgoers lucky enough to grab a ticket.
The cast of Cirque du Soleil’s show “Mad Apple” wandered the streets of the festival grounds, showing off acrobatic feats for the crowd and getting them involved and hyped up before hitting the stages. Cirque is a long-standing festival participant having even performed onstage with various headliners over the years.
Life Is Beautiful will return for its 10th year and ninth edition Sept. 22-24, 2023.
A majority stake of Life Is Beautiful is owned by Billboard’s parent company, Penske Media Corporation.