JBL Fest got here to Las Vegas for the primary time this 12 months, partnering with the music pageant Life Is Beautiful to deliver a mix of sound, festivity, and shock to the strip. It was solely my second time in Las Vegas and my first time at a music pageant in a few years, so I wasn’t precisely positive what to anticipate. But performances by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Killers, late-night appearances from Bruno Mars, and loads of quirky touches created a nostalgia-fueled journey that concurrently introduced me again to the previous and anchored me totally within the whirlwind current. The pageant was based mostly on the Park MGM, a proudly eco-friendly resort that charmed me from the get-go. After grabbing some snacks (and a complementary pair of bluetooth headphones) at JBL’s hospitality lounge, I spent the primary afternoon of the two-day pageant wandering across the spacious pool space and exploring the resort’s array of eateries, outlets, and naturally, brilliantly coloured slot machines. One spotlight from the resort was Haus of Gaga Las Vegas, a group of a few of Lady Gaga’s most notorious outfits and paraphernalia from over time, which jogged my memory of simply how revolutionary Gaga has at all times been fashion-wise. (The final time I used to be in Vegas, I used to be in the midst of a cross-country street journey and stayed in probably the seediest motel of my whole journey, so a resort blessed by Lady Gaga herself positively felt like an improve.)That night time, media professionals in attendance gathered for dinner and drinks forward of the large JBL Authentics Sound Lounge occasion. The activation was in honor of the launch of JBL’s fashionable new Authentics audio system, which include built-in WiFi and bluetooth and also can optimize their sound to suit the room they’re in, to call a number of of their capabilities.The launch passed off in a membership referred to as On the Record, which, in true Vegas style, may very well be accessed solely by weaving by way of many rows of slot machines. Stars together with Olivia Culpo and her sisters Sophia and Aurora in addition to Rocky Barnes posed on the small pink carpet outdoors the occasion as cameras flashed, and inside, a DJ performed whereas influencers and executives milled across the retro-style lounge. I grabbed a Mai Tai from the open bar and wandered into the karaoke room the place my interviews can be going down, observing the classic album artwork that lined the partitions. From the get-go, the conversations turned to nice musicians of yore. I chatted with Ashlee Simpson, herself a 2000s icon, about her lifelong love of Hole and different grunge icons, whereas her husband Evan Ross marveled at attending to see his mother Diana sing onstage with Beyoncé. I additionally spoke to Madison Beer, whose model new album “Silence Between Songs” additionally attracts closely from classic favorites like The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Ultimately, the entire occasion felt like a tribute to nostalgic musical icons, a lot of whom smiled or glared at us from their album covers plastered throughout the partitions. As I exited the room after talking with Ellis about his love of assorted musical greats, I brushed shoulders with none apart from Kravitz and knew the night time had actually begun.I’d heard whispers about Bruno Mars showing all through the night time, and after midnight, we have been lastly informed he was set to look. He stored us ready for a short while longer, and at last emerged to sing “Locked Out of Heaven” whereas encouraging the group to bop. This crowd, although, appeared extra inclined to sing alongside — or a minimum of I used to be, tucked away on the VIP part’s leather-based couches — although finally the music’s infectious refrain and Mars’s plain star energy had everybody tapping their toes. Afterwards, I stole away from the occasion with a brand new buddy and tried my favourite drink of the night time: the Verbena Cocktail on the close by Cosmopolitan Hotel, a lemony margarita garnished by a spicy yellow plant referred to as a Szechuan button which made my whole mouth really feel delightfully fizzy.The subsequent day, all of us gathered for an illustration of JBL’s sound merchandise, which included all the pieces from their waterproof audio system to their new Authentics line. Then I set off for the primary day of Life Is Beautiful, taking a shuttle by way of downtown Las Vegas till I reached the pageant grounds. I used to be amazed at how sprawling the pageant was, and the way many individuals have been in attendance; it felt like a miniature metropolis.I walked to the VIP part on the JBL stage, the place I waited till Bebe Rexha stepped out carrying a bejeweled corset prime that appeared to replicate each one of many stage lights. She belted out her hits whereas futuristic imagery swirled behind her, however a spotlight of her set was when she paused all the pieces to have two viewers members compete in a dance-off onstage. One of them — who informed us he’d had a little bit of 100-proof liquor earlier than the present — appeared poised to win, however it was a Las Vegas native who garnered the loudest cheers along with her strikes.Later within the night time, a brand new buddy and I headed over to the primary stage, the place the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been mid-set. Frontwoman Karen O had the group in her grip, and he or she was giving off David Bowie vitality in a fringed pink jumpsuit. When she introduced that it was the autumn equinox that night time and there was “additional magic within the air,” it nearly felt like she was placing some type of witchy spell on us — and it positively labored, as a result of by the point she was swirling her microphone over her head and throwing it onto the stage, I used to be totally in a trance.The night time’s ultimate efficiency was reserved for The Killers, one other nostalgic favourite whose songs certainly introduced me means again to after I was younger, singing alongside to their hits at music camp and attempting to unpack the lyrics of “Mr. Brightside” for the primary time throughout a karaoke session in somebody’s basement. Brandon Flowers was instantly magnetic when he took the stage in a velvet swimsuit, and he confidently promised us that the one sure factor in Las Vegas that night time was that “The Killers are gonna ship.” Despite his extraordinary vocal prowess and a powerful cowl of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” I admittedly wasn’t fairly as enchanted with their well-oiled, high-octane present as I had been by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s uncooked efficiency. But nonetheless, when “Mr. Brightside”‘s unmistakable guitar intro started enjoying, after all I (and what felt like each single different crowd member) screamed alongside to each phrase.Ahead, see a number of the highlights from the pageant.