Life is a beautiful thing, especially when life is filled with music, art, and comedy. The annual Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival returns to Downtown Las Vegas September 21–24 for a must-experience showcasing of some of the best visual and sonic delights the world has to offer. From Travis Scott, The Weeknd, Odesza, N.E.R.D, Arcade Fire, to Florence + The Machine, the city will be engulfed in the sounds of today’s best musical acts. Then there’s the comedy section fronted by Hannibal Buress, Michelle Wolf, and Pete Davidson, which will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face and tears to your eyes.
Whatever your poison may be, Life is Beautiful undoubtedly has something for you. As the days tick down until the city of Las Vegas is quite literally transformed by muralists and sculptors, we could no longer hold our growing anticipation for the musical discoveries that await at Life is Beautiful. Here are our picks for ten not-to-miss acts at this year’s Life is Beautiful and a helpful playlist to get you familiarized with each and every one of them.
Lizzo is an artist impossible to ignore. Intelligent, empowering, and an absolute tour de force, the Minneapolis rapper and singer doesn’t feel quite like anyone else in today’s current music landscape. Releasing her aptly-titled Lizzobangers in 2014, Lizzo received critical acclaim for crafting bangers that contained lyrics fronted by themes of female empowerment and an underlying sense of social consciousnesses. Growing from a staple in the underground hip-hop scene in her native Minneapolis to an act that has since released her major label debut, 2016’s Coconut Oil, and has collaborated with the Prince, Clean Bandit, and Bastille, Lizzo is an artist poised to define 2018 and beyond.
The story of Harry Hudson’s musical journey is one of trials and triumphs. Shortly after releasing his first song in 2013, Hudson was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Putting his budding music career on hold to fight the disease, the Los Angeles artist returned to the music scene with a steadfast passion and dive. Now signed to Jaden Smith’s MSFTS label as well as Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, 2018 saw the release of Hudson’ debut album Yesterday’s Tomorrow Gone. A moving singer-songwriter who would die for his music, it is difficult to underscore the wealth of emotion and power that bleeds from Hudson’s music and his live performance.
In 2017, British musician Elderbrook linked up with producing duo CamelPhat for what was meant to be a “cool little club record.” That “cool little club record” would be 2017’s breakout hit “Cola,” which would burst forth from the world of the underground to earn a surprise 2018 Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording. Catapulted into the spotlight, the world was introduced to the rare talent that is Elderbrook. One of the underground’s best-kept secrets, the British artist crafts hypnotic works of electronic bliss. With music that transcends a singular categorization, existing perfectly at home in the world of the underground as much as it does the world of the mainstream, Elderbrook makes electronic music for everyone.
The ethereal R&B vocal stylings of Sabrina Claudio are nothing short of breathtaking. Finding her start releasing covers on YouTube of everyone from Frank Ocean to Beyoncé, it wasn’t long before she took lent her velvety vocals to her own work. Releasing her debut EP Confidently Lost in 2017 to much widespread acclaim, a new voice in the world of R&B made itself heard. The same year would see the release of her full-length debut project About Time, an equally, if not more, beautiful collection of airy R&B. Yet, 2018 seems to be the biggest year for Claudio, with the release of her long-awaited follow-up project No Rain, No Flowers and the announcement of a Ones To Watch presented tour.
Raised in Philadelphia and shaped by Los Angeles, Mt. joy is an indie folk five-piece with a tinge of soulful rock. The start of Mt. Joy saw the band self-releasing their music to little fanfare until their song “Astrovan” suddenly began to gain traction. The initial success of “Astrovan” saw the band quitting their day jobs to focus solely on the music, and we could not be happier they did. Following up their first single with a series of other equally well-received releases, it wasn’t long before word of Mt. Joy spread. As the band made a growing name for themselves, they would release their self-titled debut album in 2018.
lovelytheband’s debut album may be titled finding it hard to smile, but one listen to the album and band will have you doing otherwise. Comprised of lead singer Mitchy Collins, guitarist Jordan Greenwald, and drummer Sam prince, the trio has been making waves in the alternative and indie pop scenes a short year after their formation. It’s not hard to see why lovelytheband has had such an explosive past year. Transforming the difficulties of life, feelings of anxiety, and a wellspring of other emotions into cathartic pieces of lively alt-pop, it is by no means difficult to fall for the band’s music.
The release of Morgan Saint’s 2017 debut EP 17 Hero came like a breath of fresh air. A distinctive music personality, Saint exists in the world of left-of-center pop. Evoking much-deserved comparisons to artists like Lorde, Broods, and Banks, the New York-based artist makes music that is as catchy as it is captivating. Each song on her four-track EP shimmers with an otherworldly polish and transfixing bouts of production that taken altogether makes it the perfect listening experience for nearly any occasion. Including the recently released Cardi B cover of “Thru Your Phone,” Saint only has five songs to her name, which means all the more new music to be unveiled during her live set.
Four-piece garage pop band Hinds emerged onto the scene brilliantly and forcefully with their 2016 breakout debut album Leave Me Alone. A twelve-song showcasing of the Spanish’s clear talent for jangly, guitar-driven pop, it earned the band both critical praise and a score of fans. Spending the next two years, touring across the world, it was at one point uncertain if new music from Hinds would ever arrive. That was at least the case until the release of their sophomore album, 2018’s I Don’t Run, which demonstrated their talent for not only noise pop but crafting music with a message.
Not many artists can make the claim they received not only one but multiple Grammy nominations before their debut album, but Brasstracks aren’t most artists. The New York-based duo’s biggest claim to fame may be producing Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem,” but their own music is equally deserving of acclaim. Taking their love of hip-hop, production, and jazz and transforming it all into one marvelous package, Brasstracks’ music is infectious. From their spectacular covers of Drake’s “In My Feelings” and Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3” to their own stunning releases, such as their For Those Who Know EP series.
NEIL FRANCES found their start writing pop music for female vocalists, but it was in those early demos and sessions that they found their true love. Comprised of Marc Gilfry and Jordan Feller, the now Los Angeles-based duo make raw, hazy works that take as much from the world of pop as it does the world of dance music. Combining the two genres with an impeccable sense of skill in their debut EP, 2018’s Took a While, the duo shows off their innate talent not only for producing but songwriting as well. A group still in its beginning stages, only time will tell just how far NEIL FRANCES will grow.