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‘Block Party’ takes over where Life is Beautiful left off

Updated June 21, 2024 - 10:50 am

Plans for the new Life is Beautiful have made it seem less a festival and more a block party. So that’s what it is being called.

“Life is Beautiful Presents: A Big Beautiful Block Party” is the formal title of the offshoot event scheduled for Sept. 27-28 on the Plaza property. The event is sure to be called the Block Party in short hand.

Artists are to be presented on two stages, with no overlapping sets. A “two-day dance party,” if you will. The shows run 5 p.m.-2 a.m. each night. Two-day passes start at $199 and are on sale Thursday. Artists are to be announced Tuesday morning (click lifeisbeautiful.com for info about the events).

The event overtakes 10 acres on the resort’s parcel, bordered by the train tracks, Las Vegas City Hall to the south, and the Plaza tower and parking lot and Core Arena. The venue can host a crowd of up to 25,000.

It is not the wide ranging, original Life is Beautiful footprint, which spread over 18 blocks since its inception in 2013. But organizers plan to envelop the entirety of the evolving downtown footprint. Operators remind that the parcel is within walking district of the Arts District, Symphony Park, Fremont East and the Fremont Street Experience.

The Block Party is set up to celebrate the culture and artistic concepts of downtown Las Vegas, according to organizers from event owner Rolling Stone. From the company’s description:

“Block parties have been a staple across neighborhoods and communities for decades. Self organized by nature, they are an expression of our culture and ideals. They are an opportunity to connect; to share ideas; to support each other; to express ourselves; to let go … This two-day dance party is a unique return to our roots, a more close-knit, and affordable experience in a vibrant new neighborhood.”

Whether $200 is a reasonable stipend to pay for a block party will be dictated by such details as, who is performing and what else is being offered.

The two-day event provides an opening for the Plaza to stage genre-specific events, or “block parties” apart from the Life is Beautiful event. Hotel CEO Jonathan Jossel is effectively the landlord of the new concept, and the event space is about double the size of the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center between the D Las Vegas and Golden Nugget.

And Rolling Stone, a subsidiary of Penske Media, is not ditching plans for the original Life is Beautiful vision. The company is led by CEO Gus Wenner, the son of 33-year-old son of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner.

Rolling Stone purchased controlling interest in the festival in February 2022. Wenner’s team says the original LiB event concept can return, regardless of the logistic re-star challenges such a revival would present.

“For a number of reasons it was appropriate to hit pause on the Life is Beautiful Festival this year. We are hard at work re-imagining and evolving the festival experience for the sake of you, the fans, and the incredible community that surrounds us,” the company states in a release announcing the Block Party. “This event is not intended to replace the festival. For now, it gives us the opportunity to continue the annual tradition of gathering in Downtown Las Vegas to uplift one another, to express ourselves, and to connect. In time, the two will coexist.”

The ‘24 event is the first in which Rolling Stone is the sole owner.

Life is Beautiful was established in 2013. The founders were Rehan Choudhry and Joey Vanas, with lead investor Tony Hsieh. San Francisco promoter Another Planet was joined as primary booker. Over the past several years, Las Vegas entertainment official Craig Asher Nyman has led the music and programming strategy.

LiB celebrated its 10th anniversary in September. The Killers were among the headliners, with Kendrick Lamar, ODESZA and Flume. Khalid, The 1975, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Omar Apollo and Kim Petras were among the top acts playing over three days and nights. Artists from Cirque du Soleil; the casts of Blue Man Group, Jabbawockeez and Magic Mike Live; and headliners Piff the Magic Dragon and Tape Face were also featured.

Tease this …

A list of dignitaries with a strong sense of Las Vegas history is being recruited for the Mirage’s closing on July 17. Expect concise, but impactful, speeches.

What Works in Vegas

“The Conjurors — Cabin of Wonders” at the Venue at Orleans hotel-casino passed their 100th show on Wednesday. The irrepressible magic tandem of Matthew Pomeroy and Natasha Lamb have found a groove entering their first summer in VegasVille. The couple opened at Orleans in April after performing scores of shows in their native U.K. Stay cool, guys. The show already is.

Cool Hang Alert

​Sax great Eric Rasmussen with Rachel Eckroth on piano, Dave Ambrosio on bass, and Mark Ferber on drums play Maxan Jazz at from 7-10 p.m. Saturday.

Eckroth was a singer in Clint Holmes’ original Vegas production at Golden Nugget about 20 years ago, and was also a member of Vegas lounge icon Dian Diaz’s band at the Fontana Room at Bellagio before heading to Biloxi. I met Eckroth at the Grammy Awards show at MGM Grand in April 2022, when she was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.

No cover, but $40 F&B minimum on Fridays and Saturdays at Maxan. Go to MaxanJazz.com for intel.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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