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The heart of Life is Beautiful music sets the stage downtown

Updated September 16, 2021 - 11:41 am

This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no foolin’ around. Not for Craig Nyman, who is the heart of Life is Beautiful’s music lineup.

“Nothing pleases me more than to see smiles on the faces of everyone who walks through the gates,” says Nyman, head of music and live performances for the festival. “That’s what all of this work is for, to make people happy.”

LiB opens at 2 p.m. Friday and runs through Sunday night.

The disco reference is related to when I met Nyman, in 2006 at Studio 54 at MGM Grand. The iconic dance club was undergoing renovation to its VIP section in those days. Nyman had just moved to town and was working as a PR rep for Kirvin Doak Communications, and led a tour of the disco-rama.

Tuesday afternoon was a different scene, hot and sunny in downtown Las Vegas, as we puttered around in a golf cart across Life is Beautiful’s 10-block footprint. Nyman knows the terrain well, as he was on the original creative team that launched the event in 2013.

We picked up some highlights along the way, too. Some of what Nyman says to look for on LiB’s discovery tour (hit lifeisbeautiful.com for ticket-exchange options and scheduling details).

Six not to miss

*Green Day. The band hardly ever plays festivals. It’s previously performed this weekend at iHeartRadio Music Festival (with decidedly mixed results). Always a roaring live act, suitable for Downtown Stage at 11:20 p.m. Saturday.

*Glass Animals. Total, pure energy at Downtown Stage at 9:20 p.m. Friday

*Ludacris. Relish this greatest-hits show at 10 p.m. Saturday.

*CloZey. Her career is en fuego. Should be one of the best sets of the weekend at Fremont Stage 10 p.m. Friday.

*Remi Wolf. Big sound. Energetic. New album out in October, hitting it at 6:35 p.m. Bacardi Stage.

*Caamp. The first time the folk band has ever played Vegas, 8:35 p.m. Friday, Huntridge Stage.

Other highlights

*Western Country Club. New venue this year, line dancing presented by Stoney’s Rockin’ Country. Party.

*Blue Man Group. Cirque du Soleil casts can’t make it this year with the company tied up in its recent reopenings, but BMG — a Cirque company — is nimble and fit for the fest.

*Fergusons. DJ collectives We The Beat, MNTRA, and Headliner Music Club will each take the stage.

*The Kicker. Famed Trump-Twitter lip-sync artist Sarah Cooper, Sam Jay and Trevor Wallace’s Stiff Socks and podcasts among the highlights.

*Meow Wolf. The immersive, experiential company at Area15 is bringing an Omega Pop-up experience to the festival.

*The Cookout. Justin Kingsley Hall curated the menu for a live-cooking experience. Dishes available until the are sold out.

*Art program. A massive collection of talented artists, including It’s A Living, Spidertag, Camille Walala and Recycled Propaganda.

Nyman recalled his club days when looking over all that LiB has to offer. “This is what I’ve learned in 17 years in Las Vegas, that the city allows you to reinvent yourself,” he said. “I started in nightclub PR, and did that. Now it’s Life is Beautiful, downtown, outside, and this is really what I love.”

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 Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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