It's been a crazy ride. But tonight, six years of hard work pays off in a big way.
Miami's paint party pioneers can't wait to open the doors for the first-ever Life in Color Festival. The crew has worked all night to transform the Sun Life Stadium parking lot into a four-stage, 11-hour free-for-all.
And we here at Crossfade just can't wait for those "shit-tons of paint."
Likewise, Life in Color co-founder Paul Campbell couldn't be more excited. In just seven years, he and his partners -- Sebastian Solano, Lukasz Tracz, and Patryk Tracz -- have watched the brand grow from a 1,000-person party at Miami's Mecca to an arena-sized EDM festival show.
Not that there will be any sitting at LIC's inaugural fest.
"We don't like to put people in the stands," Campbell says. "It's not part of our parties. We would never do that. We need the open space in order to give everybody the experience that they want."
Thanks to this no-asses-in-the-seats approach, Life in Color has won the adoration of kids looking to let loose, dance for hours, and get messy. And the LIC fest will go harder than any previous production, boasting two main stages, a side stage, and a whole tent for local talent, as well as non-stop paint blasts and carnival rides, along with dancers, performers, and artists representing all corners of the party-music world.
A full-fledged festival is a big step, but Campbell promises this is only the beginning.
"People are going to get where we're trying to take this," he says. "What we have in our head is way crazier than we have ever done."
For years, Life in Color (formerly Dayglow) has taken one-night shows around the world. Then in 2012, the company was bought up by entertainment industry mogul Robert F.X. Sillerman, who linked LIC up with dance music powerhouse ID&T, the entity behind the Sensation tour, as well as Mysteryland and others. The effect on LIC has been invaluable.
"Now that we're part of SFX and we have ID&T and these other companies to really show us where this can all be done and how you can do it," Campbell says. "We are going to create a paint world one day. Maybe in the next two years. It's going to be a different place, this whole paint-themed magical world. That's what we're working towards, and this was the biggest step."
With the backing of established entertainment giants and the mentorship of EDM leaders, Campbell and his crew are confident and ready for anything.
"We're never comfortable," he insists. "We always want to take it to the next level. We want to add more, make it a more immersive experience for everybody. We're in it for the big picture. We really believe in this thing."
He, his partners, and their team spends hours studying everything for inspiration, from Electric Daisy Carnival to Coachella, Burning Man, and Cirque Du Soleil. But they're not only interested in visual experimentation.
"We like all types of music," Campbell says. "We all hate genres."
Last year at Coachella, Campbell saw 2 Chainz owning an audience that looked just like the crowds attracted by LIC. It gave him an idea. And tonight, LIC welcomes Atlanta's Black Unicorn as its first hip-hop performer.
"We like the vibe," Campbell enthuses. "He's going to give you the deep shit, but he's a party rapper. It's a good thing to pause that non-stop thing to let people get that other mood. It's going to be good for the environment of the party and we know that."
The LIC co-founder hopes the kids enjoy the switch-up. And if they love it as much as he expects, it'll open the doors for more opportunities in festivals to come.
"We've been international for four years. We do 100-plus shows a year, wherever," Campbell points out. "We don't want to get boring. Or rather, we don't want to get bored with it. We want to always have that love and passion for what we do."
If all goes well tonight, the festival will serve as the foundation for all future LIC events.
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"Ultimately, I think LIC is going to be what you see in Miami, and across the world," Campbell says. "Once-a-year festivals in 40, 50, 60 countries. I think we're going to be right up there with the best brands in the world, because a paint fantasy world is better than a lot of shit. I just want to take our brand to that level. Nobody has seen anything yet."
Life in Color Festival. With 2 Chainz, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Major Lazer, Excision and others. Friday, December 27. Sun Life Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens. The festival begins at 2 p.m. and tickets cost $90 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 16 and up. Call 305-943-8000 or visit lifeincolor.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.