Insomniac’s first Life is Beautiful partnership serves as the perfect introductory course for the raving novice


View PDF: DJ Mag USA 37 p. 121

Ravers still feeling the post-festival depression from Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas got another taste of the Insomniac experience on September 25-27. The third-annual Life is Beautiful festival took over numerous city blocks in downtown Sin City, but this incarnation was the first time Insomniac Events got in on the action.

Stages such as the Ambassador, Downtown and Huntridge (named after the defunct historical local music venue) welcomed a whole spectrum of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Brandon Flowers with a surprise appearance from all of The Killers, the most heartfelt performance of the weekend from Meg Myers and even a trip down memory lane with Duran Duran. The bass and beats came courtesy of Insomniac at the Troubadour stage. Additionally, the Insomniac crew brought along the Wide Awake Art Car and Boom Box stationed a few blocks away to keep people dancing throughout downtown.

For the most part, the music on the Troubadour stage — as well as the art cars — was a more basic, approachable, youthful sound, perhaps due in part to Life is Beautiful being an all-ages event. Overall, there was a lot of commercial EDM, quite a bit of future bass and many assorted remixes of Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’ (who also played Life is Beautiful, but on the Ambassador stage). Even the art cars — usually a bastion for underground sounds — took a more commercial, open-format approach for the festival, luring in passers-by with the latest booty-shakers.

When it comes to the specific tracks favored in individual sets, producers pulled out the best in their catalogs for their sets, particularly Porter Robinson playing a live set to everyone’s delight. For Friday, Felix Jaehn highlighted his sacrilegious, soulless cover of Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, much to the delight of people that probably don’t even know there’s an original. His syrupy-sweet remix of OMI’s ‘Cheerleader’ was also on the docket, as well as Sam Feldt’s ‘Show Me Love’ (which Klingande also dropped later in the day). The mostly kandi-less crowd ate it up.

The standout on the Troubadour stage line-up was Dirtybird label boss Claude VonStroke and only teasing the familiar with his remix of ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’. Others from his arsenal included his tracks ‘Eye I Eye’, ‘Deep Throat’ and ‘Make a Cake’.

Giraffage was grooving on Saturday with his remix of Tinashe’s ‘All Hands On Deck’. Other cuts from his set included his version of Alice DeeJay’s ‘Better Off Alone’, along with ‘Action’ by DJ Zebo, ‘Speak With A Dofflin (Sable Remix)’ by Basenji, ‘Minger’ by Darq E. Freaker and closing with his own ‘Be With You’.

The Magician was up next and brought out his production ‘Together’. Other set highlights were ‘Name & Number’ (Wax Motif Remix) by Shift K3Y, A Number of Names’ ‘Shari Vari’, and ‘The Jam’ by Kideko.

Things got really ratchet on Sunday with Peking Duk. There’s just something disconcerting about underage girls twerking while older men luridly watch on that kills a vibe. And there was plenty of twerking going on when PD dropped a trap version of ‘Lean On’. One couldn’t hate though when they dusted off DMX’s ‘Up In Here’. It was also a Flosstradamus fan’s dream including ‘Prison Riot’, plus their latest called ‘Take Me Over’, and a rather cheesy sample of ‘Party In The USA’. The evening’s vibe got even more odd with the kiddos going up to 4B shouting F-bombs on the mic, plus “let me see them shake those titties” along with “pop that pussy” vocals. Perhaps the least family-friendly set of the festival.

Tchami worked in his ‘Shot Caller’, and ‘Missing You’, along with his remix of Jack Ü’s ‘Take Ü There’. One DJ who loved throwing down for the youngsters was Vegas’ own hometown hero DJ Ikon on the Wide Awake car as they did the limbo with a purse strap. His cuts included the Sub Focus remix of ‘Hold On’, The Tall Boys Hype Edit of ‘Get Low’, and his own edit of ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’.

To close out Life is Beautiful, electronic fans flocked to Knife Party. Selections included their hits ‘404’ plus ‘Resistance’, along with DallasK’s ‘Retrograde’ and the Reez remix of Mandy Jiroux’s ‘My Forever’. The duo worked everyone into a frenzy and left them on a high note wanting more and dreading work Monday morning.

While Life is Beautiful was more Insomniac 101 rather than the full-blown festivals with diverse crowds and acts they’re known for, it still successfully left jaws on the floor with the best AV setup and exposed a new audience to some face-melting bass.

Originally published in DJ Mag USA