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Life is Beautiful pivots to 'Block Party' for 2024, plans to bring bigger festival back in 2025

Life Is Beautiful

Last year, Life is Beautiful celebrated 10 years. But it’s starting its second decade by going on hiatus.

Instead, the festival’s new owners – Rolling Stone, and its parent company Penske Media Company — are staging a smaller and much different event at the Plaza hotel-casino's Core Arena (which is basically the property's south parking lot). They’re calling it A Big Beautiful Block Party (tickets on sale here).

The reaction has been mixed. Many locals say they want their old festival back, and bemoan the event’s new corporate owners. Others are cheering the deviation in lineup and format.

So why the new event — and new venue? And will the old one return?

Gus Wenner, the CEO of Rolling Stone — which, along with its owner Penske Media Company, acquired Life is Beautiful in 2022 — stopped by Nevada Public Radio to explain LIB's strategies for 2024 — and beyond.

The reasons for this year's Life is Beautiful hiatus: There are several, including: The need to move the event out of the 18-block Fremont East area that had hosted the festival for all of its 10 years (especially with parcels of that land now for sale); the time crunch that came after the venue dilemma; and a national music festival climate suffering from lineup homogeneity and lower ticket sales. "The market is really oversaturated," says Wenner. "I think you see a lot of bills with kind of the same acts going from place to place and just basically doing the summer festival circuit. This multi-genre experience, I think, is a tough one to nail."

Why Rolling Stone went with the "block party" concept: To keep things focused while also trying to maintain a community vibe — and also create something that felt more like a party than a music festival. Wenner says he had three goals for the new, smaller event. "The first one was just to put on something fun. The next thing was creating an experience where you're not having to choose between five different acts at a single time and miss things. So having this format where we have no overlapping sets was really critical ... [and] not trying to be something for everyone, but you're kind of more trying to be everything for someone. And [finally], then putting out something that's affordable ... we don't want to break your wallet either."

The format of A Big Beautiful Block Party: Two stages with 14 acts — including headliners Justice, Peggy Gou, and LCD Soundsystem — all from the indie electronic genre, all infrequent visitors to Las Vegas, and none of the usual rock bands, mainstream EDM DJs, or hip-hop acts usually associated with the traditional Life is Beautiful.

Life is Beautiful going forward: Wenner says work has begun to revive the bigger event in 2025. But he also wants to complement it with more Block Parties exploring other music genres. "We have not every answer right now, but every aspiration to expand Life is beautiful and give it a huge future."

Guest: Gus Wenner, CEO, Rolling Stone

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.
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