iHeartRadio Music Festival Night One Delivered What We Needed
After months of speculation about whether the iHeartRadio Music Festival would happen this year due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, it finally took place in an unusual way. Music-starved fans came together and rejoiced in an event that brought us a bit of normalcy in these most uncertain times.
Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, this music festival is one of the most anticipated music events of the year. The iHeartRadio Music Festival’s first night included a diverse lineup of music that took place near and far. This concert was anything but ordinary, as normally the festival is an all-live massive arena show at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Technology has allowed us to work from home, and it also has given us the ability for artists to perform in various places and come into our homes. This year, because of COVID-19, the artists could not be together in one place. While there were no fans attending any of the performances, virtual crowd noise was an added special effect, sounds we are accustomed to hearing at a concert of this scale. Most of the performances if not all were prerecorded, understandably, with social distancing rules still in place. However, along with the incredible performances was the Capital One Fan Wall that gave loyal fans a chance to sing along and engage the artists during the show. Artists performed from various locations around the globe, including Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, London, and South Korea.
Things got started with a performance by Alicia Keys. The 15-time Grammy Award-winner showed the audience that she’s an incredible talent who requires only two things: a piano and her powerful voice to deliver a solo performance of the first two songs of her set. Keys, who recently released her seventh studio album, Alicia, performed from New York and was joined by her band for a couple of songs from the new album, including “So Done,” a song she co-wrote with Khalid, who is rapidly rising on the charts.
Next up, Migos, the trio from Lawrenceville, Georgia, brought the fire with a high-energy performance that got virtual fans moving. Things got off to a rapid-fire pace when Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff got the beats going and led into “Motorsport.” From there Migos continued into “Deadz,” “Fight Night,” “Kelly Price,” “Narcos,” “Slippery,” “Ric Flair Drop,” and “T-Shirt,” They finished their set with tributes to many of the people we lost in 2020, including Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Pop Smoke among others. They also reminded the audience of the importance of voting and how that can change the current state of affairs in our country.
From R&B and rap, it was time to head to Nashville for some country music by Valdosta, Georgia, native Thomas Rhett. His rapid rise has come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. He has charted several number one hits on the country Billboard charts and continues to sell out shows. Rhett along with his band tore into several of his biggest hits. In an unannounced surprise, Rhett brought out his buddy Jon Pardi to perform with him on the stage.
Coldplay, the British rockers, delivered a home-based colorfully recorded performance from London. Since Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion all played their parts in their own homes, the pre-recorded show was more of a music video than anything close to a concert. While the special effects and fancy editing gave the band a bit of an edgy look as the members rocked out within the white walls of their homes, what was disappointing was that the music appeared to be tracked. This didn’t quite fit the flow of the festival. Coldplay rocked to some of their biggest hits, including fan-favorite “Clocks.” Although not quite what was expected, a chance to see Coldplay perform is always a memorable opportunity.
Closing out night one was perhaps the hottest act of 2020, BTS. The Seoul, South Korea-based band delivered their usual high-energy pre-recorded performance from Korea complete with an array of bright-colored outfits and plenty of makeup. The K-Pop supergroup demonstrated their unwavering commitment to produce a quality performance on an international stage. The band performed with a few different stage setups and outfit changes while keeping things interesting and staying true to their culture; they sang their songs in Korean. The band opened with their number one hit “Dynamite” and continued through a string of hits including “Make it Right” and “Spring Day”.
While this was certainly not the iHeartRadio Music Festival that we expected to see, hear and experience, it was clear that the show must go on, and it did. It was a night that included powerful messages of equality and the importance of voting, but most of all it brought us closer together as music continues to bridge the gap in diverse backgrounds and beliefs. As night one comes to a close, it was a clear reminder to many how much we have missed live music and the way it impacts our lives. Perhaps next year’s festival will return to normal when fans can head to Las Vegas and scream as loud as they can inside the T-Mobile Arena to see and hear their favorites perform. As for now, virtual is the safest way to continue to enjoy our thirst for music.