It’s official. Summer is over.
The second day of Life Is Beautiful inaugurated the Fall season with a diverse lineup of performers across the festival’s stages in Downtown Las Vegas, with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Reneé Rapp, the 1975, and Omar Apollo performing throughout the evening. (It might be the start of fall, but the sun sure was blazing for much of the day.)
Saturday night served as the perfect example as to why many call Las Vegas the entertainment capital of the world: down the street, on the Vegas strip, Kelly Clarkson, Fall Out Boy, and Travis Scott performed at iHeartRadio Music Festival, Adele player at her Caesars Palace residency, and for the old-school Mexicanos, Montez de Durango and their Durango Fest crew threw a baile at the Silver Nugget.
Compared to Friday’s festival, it felt like Saturday had way more fans ready to witness the spectacle — stans of the Rose camped out to see their faves, fans lined up for Kendrick Lamar merch, and 1975 listeners prepped themselves for a the possibility of a viral speech from the wide-mouthed 1975 frontman, Matty Healy. (We’re happy to report that he kept it profesh.)
With one more day left of LIB 2023, here are some of the highlights of day two. Check back in for day three coverage as Odeza, Kim Petras, Khalid and Nelly are all slated to perform Sunday.
Note: Rolling Stone purchased a majority stake in Life Is Beautiful in 2022.
Kendrick Lamar Reigns Supreme
There isn’t a rapper alive better than Kendrick Lamar, and his Saturday headlining set in Vegas was just another affirmation of his reign at the top.
Lamar kept the set much like his other festival appearances: Simple and hyper-focused on the music. He didn’t roll out any guest features or particularly elaborate visuals, leaving his set surprisingly humble for an artist of his stature. He had some fireworks, six dancers beside him in matching white button downs and black aprons, two large hanging murals, and his microphone.
Keeping the crowd energy high, Lamar went back to back on songs, seldom speaking to the crowd minus the occasional brief check in and at one point stopping to thank the crowd for their attendance. You could be anywhere in the world, but you’re right here with us having a good time in Vegas,” he said.
While some fans may have hoped to see an appearnce from Kendrick’s cousin Baby Keem, who hails from Las Vegas, such hopes never materialized as Kendrick kept the stage all to himself. Over the course of a lighting fast hour and 20-minute set, he blazed through hits spanning one of the most celebrated catalogs of a generation, hopping primarily around Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, DAMN., and 2022’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. Wearing a light blue track suit and his pgLang dodgers hat, Lamar opened with “N95,” before taking a brief pause and launching into “ELEMENT.”
He played cut down versions of “ADHD” and fan favorites including “m.A.A.d city” and “Backseat Freestyle” along with his verse on his “Sidewalks” collaboration with the Weeknd. His biggest highlights came toward the end though, wrapping with “Love” and his opus “Alright.” — E.M.
Omar Apollo Sparkles With ‘Some Sexy Shit’
Oh, Omar Apollo. The man that you are.
The Mexican-American alt-R&B star served as the perfect prelude to Kendrick Lamar’s headlining set at Life Is Beautiful Saturday night. Stunning in a sparkly black bodysuit, Apollo took the stage to perform his hits, along with “Ice Slippin’,” the lead single of his upcoming EP.
“I’mma do some old shit,” he told the crowd. (Whatever you say, sir.) “The Mexicans are here. Kendrick is playing, so I know there’s a lot of Mexicans.” (There were.) Showing off his twirls, dance moves, and guitar skills with songs such as “Ugotme,” “Usless,” and “Endlessly,” Apollo brought the sexy vibes onstage as he showed off his bright smile and music.
“How many homosexuals are in Vegas right now?” he asked. The crowd roared. “That’s a really good percentage,” he reacted.
After a daylight set at Coachella earlier this year, Apollo proved with his LIB show that he’s worthy of moonlight performances at festivals moving forward. As he performed songs like “Kamikaze” and “Evergreen” — “this shit went platinum this year” — it became clear that Apollo has the ingredients to be music’s next big thing. Don’t play with him, pa. – T.M.
The 1975 Keep It Light
The 1975’s Matt Healy has been no stranger to controversy over the past several months, but the band’s LIB set was comparably tame, with the group playing a tight hour without a hitch Saturday night. The group, donned in all black jumped right in with “Looking for Somebody (To Love),” and “Happiness” afterward.
“Ladies and gentleman if it isn’t the lovemaking, hip shaking band you love to hate or hate to love, let’s go baby,” Healy told the crowd early in the set. Soon after, the band performed a quick snippet of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”
Healy seemed loose, gliding on stage while taking a couple swigs from a wine bottle while singing “About You.” “Ladies and gentlemen,” Healy said, hushing the crowd before launching into “The Sound.” “It sounds like a super-hit to me.”
The MILFs Come Out for Yung Gravy
Yung Gravy has built a reputation as one of the goofiest rappers in music off the back of campy hits like “Mr. Clean” which samples the 1950s classic “Mr. Sandman,” and “Betty (Get Money),” which interpolates Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” blew up on TikTok and earned Gravy a platinum hit off of what amounts to his own version of a Rick Roll.
It comes as no surprise then for a Gravy show to feel just as goofy. Gravy’s DJ coaxed the crowd to chant “Gravy Chain” to introduce the rapper on stage. Part of Gravy’s schtick is his affinity for MILFs, leading some fans to adorn shirts that read “MILFs Love Gravy.”
Gravy first came out in a pink coat with pandas on it, taking it off early to reveal his 100 gecs t-shirt that read “I’m not a bitch, I’m that bitch, and I’m miss bitch to you.“ He FaceTimed bbno$ during the middle of one of his songs and handed out water bottles to fans before another, encouraging fans can toss water into the air as he performed “Magic.”
“This is an ode for all the bad bitches in the crowd,” Gravy said as he jumped into the song “One Thot Two Thot Red Thot Blue Thot.”
The antics and the lyrics are funny, but the fans’ love of the show is serious. They mouthed the words to even the deeper cuts, they moshed and cheered. He finished his set with “Betty (Get Money)” before throwing a dozen roses into the crowd. — E.M.
Ferg Targets the Broom Dude
Saturday marked Ferg’s return to Vegas “in so long,” so he was ready to, in his words, “turn this bitch up.” And thatq he did.
Performing songs like “WDYW,” his collab with Carange and Lil Uzi Vert, “Jet Lag,” and “Floor Seats,” Ferg (formerly A$AP Ferg) sent fans into a frenzy even as he admitted to the crowd that he was sick from so much traveling. (He’s been to Asia four times this year, by the way.)
“One thing I hate about festivals is that y’all motherfuckers be so far. Can I come and fuck with you?” he asked, before rushing the crowd and jumping on the barricades to greet his fans while “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes played. It was 2018 all over again.
One of the standout moments of Ferg’s set was his celebration of Sexyy Red, as he played “SkeeYee” for the crowd and debuted a new crowd. “I’m fucking with the ladies,” he said, shouting out how “women are having a monumental time in hip-hop.”
Throughout his set, Ferg called for the creation of mosh pits in the crowd, and specifically asked that his fans “rush the guy with the broom.” Yes, there was a man holding up a broom throughout the entirety of Ferg’s bouncey set. – T.M.
#FirstTimer: Reneé Rapp Does It for the Pretty Girls
If you were at the Reneé Rapp performance at Life Is Beautiful, you were witnessing history.
During her set at the Rolling Stone stage, Rapp revealed to fans that her performance there was her first time ever playing at a music festival. Dressed in a jersey and jorts, the singer jumped between songs from her debut LP Snow Angel, and the EP that broke her, Everything to Everyone.
“There’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of casinos,” she said about visiting Las Vegas for the second time ever. “I’m an infant so I get overwhelmed but sometimes overwhelmed is cute.” (It is, if you’re Reneé Rapp.)
Rapp delivered a picture-perfect performance on her set decorated by fake rocks and flowers, as she played tracks such as “Talk Too Much,” “Poison Poison,” and “Tummy Hurts.” She also dedicated a track to the “Pretty Girls.” After all, she does have a song named that. – T.M.
Chika Shines in the Sun
Between hungover fans and desert heat, Early evening on a sunny Vegas Saturday is admittedly not the weekend’s easiest time slot, but even with her minimal setup of her DJ and a few smoke machines, Chika more than made do.
The “Crown” rapper and 2021 Best New Artist Grammy nominee delivered an impressive high-energy set that showed why she’s one of the most promising young rappers in the industry.
She weaved easily between melodic choruses and heavier raps, with highlights including “MAD,” “Cinderella Pt. 1 and 2,” and “Requiem for a Dream.”
Chika worked the crowd both with humor and vulnerability. “I apologize for losing my train of though I the middle of my god damn verse, it’s this god damn drone,” she quipped, looking toward the drone camera circling around her and the crowd throughout the set.
“I love doing this, this is my life’s work,” she said to the crowd. “It’s my favorite thing to share the music that I’ve made and for you to give that love back.” – E.M.
The Rose Delivers a Wholesome Rock Show
Fans might’ve been crossing their fingers that the 1975’s Matty Healy would behave at LIB Saturday, but the Rose — a Korean rock group — delivered what any fan would’ve wanted from the Healy-fronted band.
As the sun set, the Rose — comprising electric guitarist and vocalist Kim Woo-sung, bassist Jaehyeong, pianist and vocalist Dojoon, and drummer Hajoon — played songs from across their discography as fans held up their flower-themed lightsticks throughout the set. (Folks got there early to be up close for this.)
Despite working through some production issues at the beginning of their set, the boys delivered a standout performance as the sun set on Downtown Las Vegas. And, to connect with those seeing the group for the first time, the band displayed the lyrics to their songs like “Cure” and “Back to Me” on screens.
Playing tracks like “Red” and “Alive,” with its welcome EDM twist, the Rose served as the only Korean performer at LIB and sure delivered as they prepare for an arena tour later this year. And yes, we do have a crush on Jaehyeong with his perfect blonde hair and chiseled collarbone now. – T.M.
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