Diversity in genres, in ages, in backgrounds … there’s a tremendous range to the more than 75 music acts performing over three days at the 2015 edition of Life Is Beautiful. One of the ways to dissect the lineup is based on where the artists currently stand in their careers. From locals just getting started to superstars with millions of records sold, everybody from the club act to the legend is represented over the weekend. Some of our picks:
It’s been less than two years since Royal Blood released its first single. Since then: Festival appearances at Coachella, South by Southwest and Glastonbury; a platinum-selling self-titled debut album; the 2015 BRIT Award for Best British Band; and a gig opening for the Foo Fighters this past summer. The British rock duo will be playing the Brazilian edition of Rock in Rio a week before heading to Las Vegas.
The falsetto is Prince, the beats are house music, and the production is lo-fi. The pieces that make up the music of Shamir are all identifiable when laid bare, but the sum is indescribable. The Vegas native has, in his short 20 years of life, already gone through a country phase and a punk duo, and that omnidirectional sensibility has made his 2015 debut album, Rachet, a favorite among music tastemakers.
Porter Robinson is only 23, but the producer and DJ represents a bridge between the hedonistic modern image of EDM and the more emotive electronic music of prior eras. His debut album, Worlds, proved that audiences were ready, too, hitting the top spot of Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums chart. His “live” sets involve enough sound-triggering and onstage work to overcome the notion that dance music is just about pressing play on a laptop.
Jay Z once said, “If skills sold/truth be told/I’d probably be/lyrically Talib Kweli,” a reference to the dichotomy that can sometimes exist in hip-hop between skills and success. Kendrick Lamar has found room for both. To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar’s latest, may be the best hip-hop album since Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it has propelled him to headline status around the world. But his verse on “Control,” where he declares himself the best rapper in the game today, made it clear: His rise to the top has been well-earned.
From performances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to Grammy awards and platinum records, Imagine Dragons has represented Las Vegas on the largest of stages. Returning for its second Life Is Beautiful performance (in the festival’s three-year history), will the band have anything special in store for a headliner set in front of its hometown fans?
Run the Jewels, the duo of El-P and Killer Mike, has one foot firmly planted in goofy Internet culture (see Meow the Jewels, the remix album featuring nothing but sampled cat sounds for beats) and the other in the real world (Killer Mike has been one of the artists most passionately speaking out on police brutality and racial inequality). Run the Jewels has been a favorite of festival crowds around the planet, with sets everywhere from Coachella to Iceland.
What stories can be told about Stevie Wonder that aren’t summed up by his Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, millions of records sold and a career that started 54 years ago, when “Little Stevie” was only 11? He brought down the house recently on his Songs in the Key of Life tour, where he played the classic double LP in its entirety. Expect a wider career retrospective on the Friday-night mainstage.
Duran Duran has evolved with the times while still maintaining its central identity in a way that very few of its 1980s contemporaries managed. The band’s latest album, Paper Gods, still sounds like the group, and they also collaborate with of-the-moment acts such as Mark Ronson and Janelle Monáe. The best-kept secret? Simon Le Bon’s voice sounds as clear and crisp today as it did on “Save a Prayer.”
It would have been hard to predict that Dr. Dre’s skinny sidekick from Deep Cover would have developed, more than 20 years later, into one of hip-hop’s elder statesmen. Yet in 2015, Snoop Dogg is considered one of the godfathers of West Coast rap, up there on the honor roll with Dre, Ice Cube and Too $hort. And while some of his career choices have been suspect (the reggae-based Snoop Lion persona is better forgotten), he’s still cranking out hits; 2011’s “Young, Wild & Free” with Wiz Khalifa made Snoop the rare emcee with Top 10 Billboard tracks in three different decades.