As the sun dipped below the horizon on day two of SEMA Fest 2023, the festival grounds buzzed with anticipation for another night of musical magic. The small stage continued to be a breeding ground for emerging talent, while the main stage welcomed a lineup that promised to elevate the energy to new heights.
Day Two Highlights
I have seen more bands than I can even remember at this point. From the biggest names on the biggest stages to new bands in tiny dark venues, I have seen it all. At least I thought I had. As a music journalist few shows or bands make my eyes pop open, my mouth fall agape, and blow me away at this point. Hot Crazy did all three! Holy shit, Hot Crazy is not just a band name it was a musical experience. Hot Crazy, is an up-and-coming LA band making waves in the music scene, are known for their distinctive blend of musical styling that’s impossible to ignore. Their performance was a high-energy rollercoaster ride that delivered a sonic experience that’s a perfect fusion of classic and modern elements. Their stage presence was a combination of glam rock and 70s hard rock with an in-your-face infusion of sexuality. The lead singer, Carl Biehn decked out in knee high gold lamé high heeled boots, gold lamé undies, and a gold and white silk kimono, commanded the stage and audience’s attention. With their catchy melodies and soulful lyrics, Hot Crazy has a unique ability to connect with their audience, leaving an indelible mark on anyone fortunate enough to catch their live show. The talented backup singers provided not only beautiful voices but added even more sensuality to the stage. Keep an eye on this band as they continue to define their own musical path and leave a lasting impression in the world of music.
Kicking off the small stage festivities, The Foxies brought an infectious blend of glam-pop and rock. Frontwoman Julia Lauren’s dynamic stage presence and the band’s unapologetic energy set the tone for a night that would be anything but ordinary. The crowd was instantly hooked, dancing to the beat of The Foxies’ irrepressible sound.
Renforshort kicked off the main stage proceedings with a burst of alt-pop energy. Her dynamic vocals and charismatic stage presence set the bar high for the night to come, proving that she is a rising star on the musical horizon.
Good Boy Daisy
Good Boy Daisy took the stage and unleashed a sonic assault that seamlessly blended alternative rock with a raw, garage-band edge. Their electrifying performance demonstrated a musical maturity beyond their years, leaving an indelible mark on the small stage and solidifying their status as ones to watch.
Badflower brought a gritty and visceral edge to the main stage, channeling the raw energy of rock ‘n’ roll. The band’s electrifying performance left an indelible mark, with frontman Josh Katz’s impassioned vocals resonating through the night air.
The small stage turned into a melting pot of genres as Hot Crazy infused punk rock with a dose of high-octane energy. Their no-holds-barred performance had the crowd dancing, creating an atmosphere of controlled chaos that perfectly encapsulated the spirit of SEMA Fest.
The Struts transported the audience back to the glam-rock heyday with a performance that oozed charisma and swagger. Frontman Luke Spiller’s stage antics and the band’s anthemic sound turned the main stage into a glam-rock extravaganza, complete with soaring choruses and infectious energy.
Brooke Alexx brought a breath of fresh air with her pop-infused sound that effortlessly blended catchy melodies with introspective lyrics. Her emotive performance resonated with the audience, creating a moment of serenity amidst the festival’s electrifying energy.
Walk the Moon
Walk the Moon brought their indie-pop anthems to the desert, turning the main stage into a dance party. The crowd moved in unison to the infectious beats of “Shut Up and Dance” and other hits, creating a euphoric atmosphere that radiated pure joy.
Walk the Moon’s performance at SEMA Fest 2023 was a poignant moment as the band made a bittersweet announcement. As the band took to the stage, the anticipation was palpable, and the energy in the crowd was electric. The band delivered an electrifying performance, reminding everyone of their infectious indie-pop sound and showmanship that had made them a favorite for years. Midway through the set, the lead singer, Nicholas Petricca, addressed the audience with heartfelt gratitude, expressing their deep love for their fans and the memories they’ve created together. With a mix of smiles and tears, they revealed that this performance would be their final show, marking the end of a remarkable era in their musical journey. The crowd’s response was a mix of emotions, from cheers and applause to nostalgic tears, as Walk the Moon left their mark on SEMA Fest and the hearts of their dedicated fans, creating a memorable and emotional farewell that will be cherished for years to come.
Closing out the small stage for me in explosive fashion, Dead Sara delivered a powerhouse performance that left the crowd in awe. Lead singer Emily Armstrong’s vocals soared over the intricate guitar work, creating a sonic landscape that ranged from ethereal to downright ferocious. Dead Sara’s set was a fitting climax to an evening of small stage revelations.
AJR took the stage with their eclectic mix of pop, rock, and electronic elements, creating a sonic fusion that resonated with fans of all ages. The band’s dynamic performance showcased their musical versatility, turning the main stage into a playground of genre-blurring delights.
Closing out SEMA Fest 2023 with a spectacle of epic proportions, Imagine Dragons delivered a performance that was equal parts anthemic and intimate. Frontman Dan Reynolds’ powerful vocals soared over the expansive crowd, creating a sense of unity that transcended the vast festival grounds. The band’s hits, from “Radioactive” to “Believer,” reverberated through the night, marking the grand finale of a two-day sonic adventure that will linger in the memories of attendees for years to come. SEMA Fest 2023 proved once again that it’s not just a festival; it’s a celebration of the unifying power of music in the heart of the neon-lit desert.
The headliner for night two was none other than Las Vegas hometown favorites Imagine Dragons. Imagine Dragons are renowned for their electrifying live performances that leave audiences captivated and craving more and their set at SEMA Fest was no different. What sets them apart is their boundless energy and showmanship. The band’s lead vocalist, Dan Reynolds, exuded a magnetic stage presence, and connected with the crowd on a personal level through his powerful, emotive delivery. The chemistry between the band members was palpable, creating a seamless musical experience that was both tight and dynamic. Moreover, their live renditions included fresh, unexpected twists and improvisations, breathing new life into their hit songs and provided a sense of spontaneity that keeps fans on the edge of their seats. Combine all of this with their breathtaking visuals and engaging crowd interaction, and it’s easy to see why Imagine Dragons are celebrated for their outstanding live performances. It was the perfect way to wrap up SEMA Fest 2023.
A Weekend to Remember
SEMA Fest 2023 was a true spectacle, held at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, located along the famed Las Vegas Strip. The event seamlessly blended the realms of automotive and music culture, creating a vibrant, unforgettable experience for all in attendance. In the end, SEMA Fest was much more than a festival; it was a celebration of passion, a testament to the incredible relationship between cars, music, and those who revel in their combined glory. SEMA Fest left attendees eagerly awaiting the next edition, promising more automotive thrills, outstanding music, and the unique spirit that set this festival apart. I ultimately walked more than 16 miles over the two days running between stages and car areas. I took over 4,000 pictures and was completely spent, but it was 100% worth it. It was the ultimate gathering for those who know how to have a good time and an event that car enthusiasts and music lovers alike won’t want to miss in the future.