Day 2 of Life Is Beautiful and there is a distinctive Saturday Nightparty night atmosphere in the air. Crowds seem fuller and the atmosphere is charged.
Having sworn to ourselves that we would make it down by 4pm to catch new office favourites Welshly Arms we failed miserably and got caught in the rush hour traffic heading for DownTown. After 4 failed Uber attempts who all booted us unceremoniously out when we said where we were heading we finally made it in (Thanks Charles!) to catch the last 15 mins of local indie rock band Cold War Kids playing tracks like “Hospital beds” and “Love Is Mystical”
Skilfully avoiding Foster The People on the main stage (What no “Pumped Up Kids” – what did they play?) we decided to sample some of the culinary delights of the festival. For us this has got to be one of the defining things about this. No sloppy Chicken chow Mien here the food is lovingly created with literally hundreds of tasting points and cook offs happening on a regular basis- we made a beeline for Pancho’s Kitchen for some quality Mexican.
St Vincent took the runner up slot on the Bacardi Sound Of Rum stage but to be honest could have taken headliner status. Yet again proving her astounding brilliance on her currant tour it’s tricky for this particular reviewer not to turn into a raving fan boy when trying to describe Annie Clark’s set. Since her 2007 “Marry Me” debut she has built one of the fiercest reputations around and for this she didn’t disappoint. Stunning visuals matched with her electrifying guitar playing she treated the audience to tracks like “Los Ageless” and “Cheerleader” before closing with “Slow Disco” along with a shout out to “all the Freaks and Weirdos “in the audience. Genius.
N.E.R.D pulled out a high octane, politically charged performance on the main Downtown stage. Regularly stopping proceedings Pharrell Williams called for communal moshpits, lead a spontaneous anti Trump chant and declared that life indeed was beautiful. Sampling Snoop, The White Stripes and playing classics like “She Wants To Move” before closing with the mighty “Lemon” it all made for a highly entertaining performance. Oh and Williams can kick his legs higher than any American cheerleader I’ve ever seen. Just sayin’.
For many the true headliner of Saturday night was Australian DJand producer Alison Wonderland who took to a packed Freemont stage. Clearly taken back by the amount of people that had come out to see her she turned out to be one of the genuine surprise highlights of the weekend for us. Check out a brief clip from her performance below and look out for her when she plays the UK.
And so on to the official headliner of the evening. Arriving 10 mins before Florence Welsh took to the stage it would have been hard not to have felt a little sorry for her. There was a sparse but dedicated crowd compared to the previous evenings The Weeknd performance. It soon filled up though and those that came were loud, dedicated and in fine voice as their appreciation was shown on a clearly delighted Ms Welsh.
Pirouetting across the stage before throwing herself backwards and forwards like a woman possessed she threw every ounce of energy into her performance. And this is where Florence wins every time. Yes some may have doubted her headline status over here due to the fact her only genuine hits have been “Shake It Out” and “Dog Days” BUT every track is played with such passion and sincerity you could literally feel the audience willing her to succeed. And succeed she does. At one point, and for 2 whole tracks, she leaps down into the audience, high-fiving and placing her hands on adoring male fans foreheads during “What Kind Of Man” before being propped up by a sea of arms for“Cosmic Love”.
The band leave the stage but the crowd aren’t having any of it. Having all mutually bonded by Florences sheer exuberance she leaves them and us with “Big Love” before turning the 30,000 strong audience into a communal choir for a rousing “Shake It Out” Brilliant.
Day 3 of Life Is Beautiful concludes today with performances from “Jungle”, “Arcade Fire” , “Bastille” and “First Aid Kit”