Back in 2015, the Billboard Hot 100 broke its way out of the charts of America and onto the stage when launching the first ever Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival. A late summer surprise to many, the festival was held on the weekend of August 22nd through 23rd at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York featuring a stellar, diverse list of acts ranging from Jason Derulo, to The Weeknd, to New Politics, to Justin Bieber, just to name a few. A hit, music fans came from all over to visit the beachside Long Island venue to dance their troubles away. That is why it came as no surprise that the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival returned to Jones Beach in 2016 to recapture the magic of 2015’s inauguration. This time taking over the same location the weekend of August 20th through 21st, the lineup included some of today’s biggest DJ’s, Pop, Hip Hop, and R&B artists. The threat of rain was not a deterrent as the parking lot at Jones Beach filled with music lovers who were ready to brave whatever mother nature had in store in order to see some of their favorite artists.
Kicking the day off, 12:10 PM rolled around as spectators raced into the venue, making their way to the W Hotels Next up Stage to see Los Angeles, California based DJ Elephante. Playing some of his big hits like “Age of Innocence,” “Closer (Zoo Mix),” and “Shake the Earth,” Elephante definitely started the festival off on the right foot, inspiring the crowd to dance and sing along as they waited for the next bass drop with every track. He has gigs lined up from now until the end of the year, so check him out.
The second act to grace the Hot 100 Stage, Nathan Sykes, better known as the youngest member of British-Irish boy band The Wanted, was ready to go around 2 PM. Receiving a positive response from fans in the front row, Sykes opened up with“Kiss Me Quick,” giving the audience a whole new sound, different from his boy band days. Continuing on, he had the crowd moving with “Give it Up,” which at one point showed the audience how high his voice could go as he appeared to hold the note for what seemed to be forever. Extremely impressive, everyone let him know as they screamed for more as he played on, later playing “Stitches.” Quite personable, in between songs Sykes would thank the audience for coming out to the festival, and it was easy to see he was very happy performing on the Billboard main stage for the first time. A highlight of his set, he played “Over and Over Again” where he got behind the piano and showed everyone how multi-talented he really is.
Moving back over to the W Hotels Next Up Stage, at 2:15 PM was another Los Angeles native by the name of Team Ezy. Those looking for a hot new DJ, Team Ezy is the guy. Showing off high energy from start to finish, Team Ezy kept the party going. Even though the sun was beating down on the crowd in front of the stage, Team Ezy had the crowd going absolutely wild. Closing out his set with his biggest, and newest hit,” Pretty, Bye, Bye,” which features DJ Skrillex. Team Ezy proved he is an artist to keep an eye out for.
Jumping over to the Hot 100 Stage, seats were filling up to see “Fight Song” Singer and New Yorker Rachel Platten. Hitting the stage around 4:30 PM, just as the sun was at the perfect spot to light up the stage, Platten was ready to Rock. With the crowd anxious to sing along, Platten put on a performance everyone would be talking about for days after. Performing the aforementioned hit, “Fight Song,” everyone could be heard singing along, even those on the beach outside the amphitheater. Extremely diverse, before ending her set with her single “Stand By You,” Platten showed off her incredible vocal range with a cover of Swedish House Mafia’s anthem, “Don’t You Worry Child,” leaving everyone breathless. Her latest album, Wildfire, is out now and is continuing to scorch the charts for good reason.
For the very next act on the Hot 100 Stage, when 6PM rolled around, the main theater was packed with fans waiting for New Jersey’s own Fetty Wap. The 1738, Remy Boy, Zoo Gang leader came out swinging with a smile that never once left his face during his full hour set. Hooking the audience from the minute he came on screaming “1738!,” he performed some of his biggest hits, including, “679,” “My Way,” and “Trap Queen.” Moving and grooving his entire set, Fetty Wap knew exactly how to work the crowd and even gave a shout out to the people who were sitting in some of the highest points of the theater. His latest single, “Different Now,” hits iTunes and Spotify on August 19th, so check it out.
Jumping over to the Sun Stage, Brooklyn natives Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller, better known as Sleigh Bells, were about to ignite a fire. Beginning around 6:45 PM, the crowd was beyond excited as the band’s name exploded on the back screen as the song “Tell ‘Em” erupted through the speakers. Not knowing what to expect, Krauss came out through the middle of the stage with her hoodie up, ready to go with the single “Comeback Kid.” Krauss and her band moved about the stage constantly, giving off just as much energy as the crowd was. Many times, Krauss came to the lip of the stage, extending herself to the audience, wanting to get as close as possible. Going into “Crown on the Ground,” she did not stop at the end of the stage, she went into the crowd! An exciting time, many made their way closer, in order for a chance to sing along with Krauss. She announced that this was their first concert since their year and a half hiatus, but during that time period, they finished a new record. Great news for fans, Sleigh Bells was for sure one of the most energetic acts of the entire weekend.
Taking over the Hot 100 Stage at 8PM was Dutch DJ Martin Garixx. At this point, the amphitheater was packed, filling the seats from right in front of the stage to the very top row. With a packed house, Garixx was ready to put on the set of his life. His equipment was all set up, lasers, fog machines, and fireworks galore, and it was only a matter of time before he burst onto the platform. Once he took his spot behind his turntables, the crowd roared and it was go-time. Performing an amazing hour set, packed with some of his biggest hits, including “Animals” and “Now That I’ve Found You,” the crowd went wild, screaming the lyrics and losing their mind. Closing out with most recent single, “In the Name of Love,” which features Bebe Rexha, Garixx lit up Jones Beach, literally and figuratively.
Meanwhile, back at the Sun Stage, a DJ was getting the crowd hyped for the duo Rae Sremmurd. The second to last act of the night on this particular stage, at 8:45 PM, Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jimmi” Brown were about to hit the stage. Coming out with his sunglasses on, Swae Lee was smiling from ear to ear while holding a pineapple. Then Slim Jimmy came running out right after him saying, “It’s so dead right now, I know how to get a party started.” With that, they went right into “Start A Party” and the crowd unleashed to the Hip Hop beats. At one point during the song, they sprayed the crowd with champagne and the energy was getting more and more intense. Adding to the action, Swae Lee took that pineapple at the end of the song and smashed it to the ground, kicking off the celebration. Without any music, the duo screamed, “No flex!” and the crowd knew exactly what to say and replied with, “Zone.” Naturally, “No Flex Zone” was up next and the audience rapped along as they were doing flex imitations from popular Yoga poses to showing off muscles. One of the final acts to perform during Day One of Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival, Rae Sremmurd shows they are a force to be reckoned with.
Directly after Rae Sremmurd, French DJ Madeon closed out the Sun Stage at 9:45 PM . His chart-topper “You’re On” opened his set as he came out on stage to an overwhelming response. Amped up, as soon as the first bass dropped, everyone screamed for more. Being the last DJ of the day, Madeon knew he needed to do something to keep the crowd alive. With that in mind, he set his spin deck facing towards the crowd so that they could actually see how he mixes. An interesting perspective from a consumer’s standpoint, everyone marveled to watch how hard Madeon works behind his table. Including one of his biggest singles, “Pay No Mind,” fans sang every word and gave Madeon some of the most love a DJ received all day long.
Closing out Day One on the W Hotels Next Up Stage was the rapper known as Wale. Hailing out of Washington, DC, Wale was ready to break the tension of anticipation as he took the stage at 9:45 PM. Going up the same set time as aforementioned Madeon and Ariana Grande on the Hot 100 Stage, Wale were ready to grab everyone’s attention. Before he even started performing, Wale mentioned to the crowd that he needed all his real Wale fans to help him mosh during his set. He said, “I see some crazy white boys in this crowd tonight and that’s who I’m partying with!” From there, the set moved forward full-throttle and Wale made his way onto the barricade, into the crowd, to get the party going. Offering up “Pretty Girls,” “Girls on Drugs,” and his newest single, “My PYT,” Wale was definitely the perfect artist to close out the W Hotels Next Up Stage with a bang.
Quite a day, perhaps one of the biggest stars was the Pop goddess Ariana Grande. Naturally, she would headline Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival’s opening day 2016 with her set lifting off at 9:45 PM at the Hot 100 Stage. Touring in support for her number one 2016 album, Dangerous Woman, Grande’s visit to Long Island was a rare and much appreciated one.
Putting on a show-stopping performance, Grande gifted the capacity crowd all of her biggest hits, opening with the Jessie J cover “Bang Bang.” Engaging the audience, she had fans singing and dancing to practically every single song. In fact, even some of the security guards were seen belting out the lyrics to her songs. During one part of her set, while she was performing her hit “The Way,” Rapper Mac Miller joined her on stage to Rap his verse, adding to the excitement. Just one highlight in the adrenaline-packed performance, the rest of her set was a spectacle while she sang “Into You” and “Problem.” Closing out with style, she soared through “Be Alright,” “Break Free,” her newest single, “Side by Side,” and “Dangerous Woman.” For those who missed this talented, young artist, The Dangerous Woman Tour will relaunch in February and run through April of 2017.
All in all, Day One of Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival 2016 was one for the books. Proving the weather wrong, music lovers were able to enjoy a beautiful sunny day, see some of their favorite artists, and make memories of a lifetime with friends. Showcasing some of the industries biggest artist, as well as introducing some of the industries newest artist, Day One was a great success as everyone returned home to rest up for Day Two scheduled to launch at 1 PM the next day.Photos credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography & Courtney Coccia Photography