We all know the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but what about when life gives you, well, sh*t? You take it to the internet, of course.
After the COVID-19 pandemic halted nearly all live events for 2020, Bad Moon Booking, creator of annual indie festival Life Is Sh*t, has decided to go digital with a 24-hour Virtual Sh*t-A-Thon, set for Saturday, September 26.
Continuing the tradition of previous years, the live music event doubles as a charity drive for Girls Rock Vegas!, with all donations going to that nonprofit rock ’n’ roll summer camp for girls ages 9 to 17.
The event will feature more than 100 bands from all over the world, plus segments from former Las Vegans like Jacob Smigel, Ronn Benway, Ian Dewane (Fevergirl), Jack Evan Johnson (Dude City) and Chandelle. The 24-hour livestream will also mark the debut of new Vegas outfits Gold Star Girls, Strange Unknown, Lords of Death and Los Ghoulees.
“None of us have done anything like this,” says co-organizer James Adams. “At first we thought we weren’t going to have enough content, but now we’ve got over 100 bands. It’s a hodgepodge of different stuff.”
Adds co-organizer Tsvetelina Stefanova, “We were inspired by the ’70s telethon. We’re trying to figure out how to fit it all in 24 hours.”
Over the past month, musicians from all over the country and world have sent in live recordings, most of them never seen before, for the telethon. Stefanova and Adams will also be conducting interviews with artists, including Japan’s Loolowningen & The Far East Idiots, the band behind the Mitoho project, an online guide to underground Japanese indie rock for non-Japanese audiences.
Originally created as an alternative festival to Downtown’s Life Is Beautiful, Life Is Sh*t 2020 will feature out-of-town headliners like Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen, Kim Salmon of The Scientists and New York anti-folk veteran Hamell on Trial, plus a slew of Nevada-based artists including The Dirty Hooks, Indigo Kidd, Beverly Chillz, Hard Pipe Hitters and Laabradoor.
Despite not being able to hold the festival in an actual venue, Tstefanova and Adams hope the event brings people together during such an uncertain time. “Life isn’t always bad,” Adams says, “but to ignore the fact that life can be sh*tty, I think, is wrong. It creates this false sense that you need to always feel happy.”
That philosophy has always driven Life Is Sh*t, but this year, the organizers are feeling it more than ever. “Sometimes a family member gets sick, you lose your job or you can’t pay rent,” Adams continues. “These are things out of your control, and they make life sh*t. This isn’t just us being tongue-in-cheek. If there’s any year that’s ever been a sh*tty year, it’s 2020.”
Though Life Is Sh*t could be viewed as a nihilistic middle finger to polite society, Adams says the event’s mission goes far beyond that. From raising funds for Girls Rock Vegas! to creating a platform for local and traveling artists, Life Is Sh*t has evolved into far more than a funny name.
“If you’re not willing to admit and acknowledge the problems that exist in our society that have led to this moment we’re all in, then you’re kind of complicit in the problem,” Adams says. “If we can’t acknowledge the sh*t, how are we supposed to fix it?”