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First Dave Grohl broke his leg and continued touring with the Foo Fighters by performing on a custom gilded throne. Then Axl Rose busted his foot and borrowed Grohl’s throne for the Guns N’ Roses’ reunion tour. And apparently this is a trend. Like Grohl and Rose, 2 Chainz wasn’t going to let a little thing like a broken leg slow him down when he played Las Vegas’s Life Is Beautiful festival on Friday.
“For those who don’t know, I broke my leg five weeks ago,” 2 Chainz (real name: Tauheed Epps) told the main-stage crowd after fittingly performing “No Problem,” referring to an accident that took place at his daughter’s recent birthday party. “When I got out of surgery, a nurse there, she told me, told me, ‘You know, 2 Chainz, you not gonna be able to do that Life Is Beautiful festival! You not gonna be able to make it.’ I said, ‘B****… you crazy!’”
The Southern rapper didn’t take the Life Is Beautiful stage for his Pretty Girls Like Trap Music show seated on Grohl’s throne, but 2 Chainz was riding in style on two wheels — on a pink wheelchair, that is — accompanied by a very pretty nurse. (Presumably this wasn’t the same nurse who warned him not to perform.)
2 Chainz’s entrance was preceded by his Trap Choir singing a bit of Soul II Soul’s hit “Back to Life”; while it was unlikely that many people in the young Life Is Beautiful audience knew the 1989 hit (or that Soul II Soul’s Melissa Bell recently died), it was an appropriate theme song for the unstoppable trap star — who later that night even headed across town to play the after-party for the iHeartRadio festival also happening in Vegas this weekend. 2 Chainz told the crowd he’ll be back on his own two feet in about three weeks.
But perhaps the greatest entrance Life Is Beautiful Friday was by Bill Nye — yes, the Science Guy — not on the festival grounds but at a nearby hotel. Nye’s afternoon appearance at Life Is Beautiful (where he drew a massive crowd to the Fremont tent for his talk about climate change and clean energy) was a surprise for many — especially for festivalgoer Savana Prosch, who was twerking and Snapchatting with her friends in a Vegas hotel elevator on her way to the show, when Nye hilariously showed up and freaked them out.
Bill Nye just walked into our elevator while I was snap chatting.. pic.twitter.com/LwCOITAEft
— ☯ (@Savmasta) September 22, 2017
Back over at the festival, definitely standing on her own two feet at Life Is Beautiful was New Zealand pop chanteuse Lorde, fully recovered from the illness that forced her to flailingly dance — but not sing a note — through her bizarre but earnest “Homemade Dynamite” performance at last month’s MTV Video Music Awards. Lorde’s voice was in fine form Friday evening on exquisite new Melodrama hits like “Liability,” for which she sat on the stage’s edge serenading a field of illuminated cell phones, but she also spent much of her set showing off her signature “Yellow Flicker Beat”-style dance moves with her troupe of denim-clad interpretive dancers.
Lorde (real name: Ella Yelich-O’Connor) described much of Melodrama, an intensely emotional breakup album, as comprising “I’m-dancing-but-why-am-I-sad” songs, but in her gossamer Gothic-fairy gown she expressed pure joy and freedom of movement onstage, and it was a wonder to behold.
Lorde’s set was so grand and mature, it was almost a shock when the singer, who first broke through with “Royals” at age 17, told the crowd between songs, “Vegas is kind of a weird city for me to go to, because I’m underage. I can’t gamble. I can’t go to the club. I can’t go to a strip club. Does anyone have any suggestions for something a 20-year-old can do here?”
One even younger performer who impressed at Life Is Beautiful Friday was whiz kid Landon Barker, son of Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, who at the end of Blink-182’s headlining set on the Ambassador stage got behind his dad’s drum kit and bashed away impressively as the audience roared. Blink-182 recently replaced singer Tom DeLonge with the Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba; if the elder Barker ever wants to leave the band as well, clearly Blink already has a capable replacement lined up.
Speaking of replacement singers of sort, Dreamcar — a new electro/pop/rock supergroup featuring a Gwen Stefani-free lineup of No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont, and Adrian Young plus AFI frontman Davey Havok — were one of Friday’s biggest highlights. While AFI and No Doubt got their start in the alt-rock ’90s, Dreamcar’s set was all big-’80s New Romanticism — jangle-funk ragged-tiger guitars, slapped bass, hyperspeed synths, cheeky Blitz Kid posturing, Ant-rapping, Bow Wow Wow beats, a couple of saxophone solos that wouldn’t be out of place on an INXS or Spandau Ballet album — with Havok, the best-dressed man at Life Is Beautiful, wearing a pastel yachting suit that looked like it was borrowed from Simon Le Bon. (The also-dapper Kanal rocked a pink-on-pink outfit the same shade as 2 Chainz’s wheelchair.)
Dreamcar dedicated their song “On the Charts” to their successful main-stage comrade Lorde, but the best tribute was their vivacious cover of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City.” (This wasn’t the first time they’d covered Bowie live; when celebrating their album release at Los Angeles’s Roxy club earlier this year, they played “Moonage Daydream.”) Wham, bam, thank you, Dreamcar, indeed.
Yahoo Music’s Life Is Beautiful live stream continues Saturday at 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET with Muse, Cage the Elephant, Two Door Cinema Club, Capital Cities, and more.