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New Block Party music festival reveals first lineup

Updated June 25, 2024 - 2:26 pm

Justice will be served come September.

Along with Peggy Gou, LCD Soundsystem, Jungle and nearly a dozen more.

All of the aforementioned dance-floor-friendly artists are part of the inaugural lineup of Life is Beautiful Presents: A Big Beautiful Block Party, which debuts downtown Sept. 27-28.

Also on the roster are Jamie XX, James Blake, Thundercat, Toro y Moi, Badbadnotgood, Neil Frances, LP Giobbi, Empress Of, John Talabot and Fifi.

Running from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. each day, the event promises no overlapping set times for a nightly nonstop dance party in a lot on the Plaza’s property.

The fest is an offshoot of the multi-genre Life is Beautiful music and arts fest, which debuted downtown in 2013 and has been put on hold this year, though it could return in the future.

A handful of the Block Party’s acts have also played Life is Beautiful, including Justice (2018), Badbadnotgood (2015) and Jungle (2022).

More recently, fast-rising South Korean DJ/singer Gou electrified Electric Daisy Carnival in May.

New owners, new digs

The Beautiful Block Party marks the first LiB-affiliated event with Rolling Stone and parent company Penske Media taking over as full owners of the brand, having initially bought into the company in February 2022.

According to Rolling Stone CEO Gus Wenner, the decision to put on the Block Party this year as opposed to the traditional Life is Beautiful festival was made this spring, when they were searching for a new home for the fest because of “a bunch of factors.”

“In looking at new locations this year, I think doing it at that large scale was something that was going to be difficult in the time frame we had, as we were evaluating where we could do this thing — and we really, really wanted to keep it downtown,” Wenner explains. “It felt so much a part of the spirit of what Life is Beautiful is, and just the impact it’s had on the downtown community, the economic impact, the role it’s played in helping to transform it over the last 10 years, has been something special. I think that’s when we started playing around with the idea of the Big Beautiful Block party.

“The more that we talked about it, the more that we saw how it could be unique,” he continues, “how we could try something different, try something that we can potentially do throughout the year more times — in addition to the festival. We just got excited about it.”

Dancing away the night instead of the day

Lineup-wise, the idea was to curate a roster of electronic music-centric acts that complemented one another, creating a more cohesive experience.

“The kind of core customer and fan that’s been coming for years, this genre of music is right in the roots and identity and DNA of Life is Beautiful,” Wenner notes. “I love the idea of going to something where you’re not baking in the sun from 1 p.m. till 2 a.m., but rather, you go to a block party and you see six acts that all kind of work right into the next one and hit similar notes, but take you on a journey — and you’re able to do that for two days in an incredible space.”

As Wenner and company began developing the block party concept, two points of emphasis were affordable tickets — two-day general admission passes start at $199 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday at lifeisbeautiful.com — and no conflicting performances.

“You don’t have to kind of look at the bill and say, ‘I want to see six things,’ and then you have to make a decision because they’re playing at the same time on different stages,” Wenner says, “but rather create an experience where everyone can actually experience the same thing together. We wanted to design something that was really one contained experience, where you could just get lost and have a shared experience with the people that you’re there with.”

‘How do we evolve?’

Of course, the Life is Beautiful experience has always featured more than music, with an extensive art program in addition to comedy shows, guest speakers and more.

Wenner says that they’re still in the process of conceptualizing all that the Block Party will entail — though he does note that in a presidential election year, they will be working with nonprofit organization Headcount to do voter registration at the event.

“We’re still kind of putting the final touches together on that experience, how the art is going to be,” Wenner explains, “but doing something that feels really community-(based) and celebratory is probably the lens where we’re looking through everything.”

He also notes that they’ll probably look to bring back Life is Beautiful next year and that the fest would move to the area where the Block Party will take place.

“This spot will be the anchor of our future,” he says. “As we look forward, our question is not ‘How do we re-create what it’s been?’, but ‘How do we evolve, bring it into the future and make it bigger and broader and try new things?’

“I think that’s part of its spirit, as well, trying new stuff and taking risks,” he notes. “I mean, it’s exciting to try something a little new and different.”

A previous version of this story misstated Peggy Gou’s name.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram.

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