September 17, 2015 Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival Sizzles Jones Beach, NY 8-22-15
For over seven decades, the popularity of songs and albums has been measured by The Billboard Charts. While the formats have changed through the years, the formula is essentially the same, making Billboard multi-genre charting the standard for mainstream music. Of all the respective categories in Billboard’s system, Billboard Hot 100 is perhaps the most diverse, combining all genres into one and determine the top 100 songs in America week to week. Now for the first time ever in 2015, Billboard teamed up with mega live-entertainment company Live Nation to bring music lovers Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival. Scheduled as a two day event, the festival was held the weekend of August 22nd and 23rd at Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, NY. A perfect sight to setup the festival, with the bay and ocean in the surrounding area, three stages hosted an amazing bill of artists ranging from Hip Hop, to Rock, to Pop, to R & B, to House, and so much more. With twenty-eight artists on tap for opening day, a diverse group of concert goers arrived early to catch as many of the acts as possible, ready to close out the Summer with a bang.
With many acts overlapping time-wise, one of the three first acts to performance was Philadelphia, PA’s Cruisr at 1 PM over at the Samsung Level Stage. Founded in 2012, this Indie-Pop band is comprised of Vocalist/Guitarist Andy States, Drummer Jon Van Dine, Bassist Kyle Cook, and Guitarist Bruno Catrambone. Signed to Vagrant Records, they released their self-titled EP in 2012, followed by their All Over EP in 2014. Coming onto the stage with the sun in their eyes, they performed a delightful set of songs that included singles like “All Over,” “Throw Shade,” and “Go For It.” With catchy hooks, their melodic nature won over the crowd immediately. Having already toured with the likes of The 1975 in 2014, Cruisr is set to join Misterwives and WATERS for a full US tour this Fall starting on September 23rd in Pittsburgh, PA at Stage AE and wrapping up Nov 8th in Washington DC at 9:30 Club.
During the 2 PM hour, from Brisbane, Australia, singer/songwriter Conrad Sewell took the Samsung Level Stage. Pursuing a music career since the young age of eight, sending around demos, in 2004 Sewell auditioned for Season 2 of Australian Idol, but did not make the cut. Not deterred, Sewell has risen to great things in the years to follow. Formerly a part of the short-lived Rock band Sons of Midnight, at the age of eighteen, Sewell moved to the UK to further pursue his career. Having worked with Kygo on the single “Firestone,” Sewell has two solo singles that hit Australian charts as well. Walking out with his band, Sewell admitted the sun was blazing hot but battled through the sweat to perform a soulful set of his songs including singles “Hold Up” and “Start Again.” Sewell’s voice can best be described as silky smooth with an inflection that will have listeners ears tingling. Combined with thoughtful lyrics, this is an artist with a bright future. Sewell will be touring with Maroon 5 in September during their run through Australia.
Over at the main Hot 100 Stage at 3 PM, the English girl group known as Little Mix were ready to go. Formed in 2011 exclusively for the eighth series of The X Factor, they consist of Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, along with Jesy Nelson, and they became the first group to win the competition. Signing with Simon Cowell’s record label Syco Music, the group released a cover of Damien Rice’s “Cannonball” in 2011 as their winner’s single. Debuting the chart topping album DNA in 2012, it was followed by Salute (2013), and their newest from 2015. Being the first girl group since The Pussycat Dolls to reach the U.S. top 5, as well as earning the highest debut U.S. chart position by a British girl group, breaking the record previously held by the Spice Girls, Little Mix bring quite a buzz with them. Opening their set with 2014 UK hot single, “Salute,” they went into “Move,” “Change Your Life,” and “DNA.” Dancing around the stage and singing passionately, each member shared the spotlight as they went into US hits “Wings” and closed with their latest single, “Black Magic.” They will be kicking off The Get Weird Tour in March of 2016 in the UK.
Back at the Samsung Level Stage, at 3:45 PM, Canadian musician, singer, and songwriter Lights was about to begin. With a sound that spans the genres of Synthpop, Electropop, New Wave, Pop, and Alternative Rock, Lights is a unique artist that appeals to a broad audience. Beginning a career at an early age, she was signed at the age of fifteen and has expanded her sound through the years. Releasing the gold-selling The Listening in 2009, she followed it up with Siberia in 2011 and 2014’s Little Machines, which won Juno’s Pop Album of the Year. Filling her set with an immense amount of energy, she and her band charged through fan favorites, new and old, including “How We Do It,” “Running With the Boys,” “Muscle Memory,” as well as “Up We Go.” In continued support of Little Machines, Lights will be touring the USA September into December.
Fans headed back to the Hot 100 Stage at 4 PM to catch an earful of New Jersey native, Halsey. Growing up around music and playing multiple string instruments, she started songwriting at the age of seveteen. In early 2014, she signed her first contract with Astralwerks, the outcome being her debut EP, Room 93. Now a year later, Halsey released her debut studio album, Badlands, in August 2015, which included “Ghost” and “Hurricane” from Room 93. Further creating a stir of interest, Halsey recently led a co-headlining tour with Young Rising Sons as well as supported Imagine Dragons on the Smoke and Mirrors Tour during the North American leg. Opening with Badlands lead track “Castle” and “Hold Me Down,” Halsey visited Room 93 with “Ghost,” “Empty Gold,” and “Hurricane.” Colorful and enthusiastic, she used the large stage to her advantage as she moved side to side, singing to the amphitheater with ease. Wrapping up the set, she and her band performed “Roman Holiday,” “Colors,” and the catchy “New Americana.” There is no doubt Halsey is on her way to big things, so catch her on tour through December.
Also on the Hot 100 Stage around 5:15 PM, from Miami, FL, R&B/Hip Hop/Pop artist Jason Derulo graced the platform. Successful in his career since 2009, he has written songs for Lil Wayne, Birdman, and P Diddy before signing to Beluga Heights, part of Warner Music Group, where he released his hit single, triple platinum “Whatcha Say.” In 2010, his self-titled debut released and was followed with 2011’s Future History, 2013’s Tattoos, 2014’s Talk Dirty (US re-issue of Tattoos), and newest from 2015, Everything Is 4. On top of it all, Derulo has worked with a plethora of big names in the industry such as Snoop Dogg, Tyga, Meghan Trainor, Stevie Wonder, Keith Urban, and Jennifer Lopez, among others. Nominated for twenty-nine awards over the past five years, Derulo has won six of them, solidifying him as a major player in today’s music industry. No stranger to Jones Beach, Derulo played the venue in 2014, and also earlier in 2015. Opening his set with “In My Head” off of his debut, he flowed into “Talk Dirty,” the irresistible hit “Want To Want Me,” and “Wiggle.” Showing some smooth dance moves along the way, Derulo wound down his set with “Trumpets” and closed with the hit “Whatcha Say.” He will be busy into the new year with an abundance of European tours that are sure to keep his popularity level high.
Strolling back to the Samsung Level Stage, ZZ Ward and her band were ready to begin their set at 6:30 PM. Residing in Oregon, ZZ Ward has been crafting music since the age of twelve. Signed to the Boardwalk Entertainment Group and Hollywood Records, Ward has an extensive catalogue in the past three years. Releasing Til the Casket Drops, Criminal EP, and Mixtape Eleven Roses in 2012, she maintained speed and releases This Means War and Love and War in 2015. With her soulful singing voice, Ward performed top picks from her catalogue, including “”Put the Gun Down,” “Til The Casket Drops,” and later on “Move Like U Stole It.” With a contagious smile as she strummed her acoustic guitar, Ward entertained a large supporting audience cheering her on. There are still many chances to see her live as Ward will remain touring through October.
Also at 6:30 PM, on the Hot 100 Stage, New Orleans’ notorious Lil Wayne was up. He has been recognized in the Hip Hop genre over two decades. By the young age of nine, Lil Wayne had joined Cash Money Records and worked with the likes of Lil’ Doogie, Juvenile, and Young Turk. Lil Wayne’s solo debut album, 1999’s Tha Block Is Hot, was certified platinum and led to a multitude of releases including Lights Out (2000), 500 Degreez (2002), Tha Carter (2004), Tha Carter II (2005), Like Father, Like Son (with Birdman 2006), Tha Carter III (2008), Rebirth (2010), I Am Not a Human Being (2010), Tha Carter IV (2011), I Am Not a Human Being II (2013), Free Weezy Album (2015), and the to-be-announced Tha Carter V. He has also been featured in movies as well as on TV shows, making him one of Hip Hop’s most visible artists. Getting the party started with the popular “Lollipop,” after the smooth beginning, he punched in with “Fuck Up Some Commas,” “I’m Goin In,” and later closed with “A Milli” before expressing gratitude to the audience. Keeping the audience bouncing to his beat, Lil Wayne was thoroughly entertaining and proved why he has attained longevity in his career. There is no tour in line, but he will be at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on
Chilling out over at the Beach Stage, Christina Milian was up at 7:40 PM. From New Jersey, singer/songwriter and actress Christina Milian began her fame in 1999 with acting and 2001, signing to Def Jam at the age of nineteen. Milian released her self-titled debut album in 2001, which featured the singles “AM to PM” and “When You Look at Me.” “AM to PM” charted within the Top 40 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and led her to 2004’s It’s About Time which featured hit “Dip It Low.” Coming out with a group of well choreographed dancers, Milian grooved around the stage for “Dip It Low,” and she was joined Lil Wayne for the cut “Do It.” Sexy and sounding stellar, Milian treated the audience to an impressive performance. Her last release, 2006’s So Amazin’, was the last fans had heard of her album-wise since she has kept herself busy with plenty of acting projects. Thankfully for fans, Milian has plans for a new upcoming record with the release of the single “Rebel.”
Natalie La Rose
As the sun began to set on the beach, concert goers made their ways back to the Samsung Stage at 7:50 PM for Natalie LaRose. Still relatively a new act, from the Netherlands, LaRose is a recording artist and dancer signed to Flo Rida’s Republic Records since 2013. Her single “Somebody” charted internationally, attaining silver and platinum certifications. Helping expand her audience, she opened for Fifth Harmony on the 2015 Reflection: The Summer Tour. Also featuring some excellent backing dancers, La Rose began her set with “Somebody,” flowed into “Worse Things Than Love,” and took everyone for a ride with “Rollercoaster.” Continuing with “Around The World,” she later on closed her set with “Jealous” and received a massive applause in support. With her powerful, inviting singing force and bold stage presence, La Rose was a highlight of the day at Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival.
Axwell Λ Ingrosso
On the Hot 100 Stage at 8 PM, the Swedish duo of Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, formerly of Swedish House Mafia, got everyone ready to dance. Part of the Def Jam Recording family, this Electrohouse/Progressive House pair debuted at the 2014 Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City, and have been red hot since. Their EP X4 was released in 2014, and 2014 singles “Something New” and “On My Way” have charted internationally with 2015’s “Sun Is Shining” attaining international spots across the board. Keeping everyone’s attention, they offered cuts like “Barricade,” cover “Habits (Stay High),” before spinning into “Music Doing Doing (Dream Bigger).” With an atmosphere of lights and smoke surrounding them, they jammed into Major Lazer & DJ Snake’s “Lean On,” then showcased their own “This Time We Can’t Go Home” before closer “Something New.” A to-be-announced album is in the work and Axwell Λ Ingrosso will be overseas rocking audiences October through December.
Kicking it over at the Beach Stage at 8:15 PM, Trinidad James made a boom of an appearance. James, a Hip Hop artist based out of Atlanta, GA, had a short-lived Def Jam contract resulted in him releasing music as an Independent recording artist through his Gold Gang Records. Creating Mixtapes and EPs since 2012, gold single “All Gold Everything” has charted on US boards. Working with a plethora of artist in the genre, James has kept himself fully in the game. In fact, in 2015 alone, he has released three EPs, including his most recent from April, Trips to Trinidad. Bouncing about the stage with enthusiasm, James flowed through the aforementioned “All Gold Everything,” among many others. Bringing a party-like vibe to the stage with his colorful attire, James had many hands in the air from start to finish.
Bringing her fashionable presence to the Samsung Stage, at 8:40 PM, Santigold was a sight to see and hear. From Philadelphia, PA, Santigold made her debut in 2008 with her self-titled album. Receiving rave reviews and catching ears, she followed up in 2012 with Master of My Make-Believe which showed her growth as an artist. Possessing a Punk Rock background as former Stiffed vocalist, her music conveys a bold, stylish, and unique honesty that her past is sure to have influenced. Many collaborations has seen her work with the likes of Res, Ashlee Simpson, Kenna, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, M.I.A, and Beastie Boys, among others. Rocking out tracks like “Go!” and “Big Mouth” off of Master of My Make-Believe, she had everyone clapping along as she jumped up and down with uber energy. She also mixed in Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn Go Hard” along with “Creator” from her 2009 debut record that saw a mass of people dancing with her on stage. On Halloween, Santigold will be at the Ritual at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans, so get tickets now.
Ending the night on the Hot 100 Stage, at the prime hour of 10 PM, The Weeknd was up. From Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, The Weeknd, a multi-talented artist, is a singer/songwriter as well as record producer. Throughout 2011, he released three nine-track mixtapes: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. Attaining critically acclaim, he went on to release Trilogy in 2012, a reworking of the mixtape material and three new songs, via Republic Records and his own label, XO. The following year, he released his debut studio album Kiss Land, followed by 2015’s Beauty Behind The Madness, becoming his first number one album on the Billboard 200.
Having the seats packed all the way to the top mezzanine, The Weeknd came determined to entertain. Dishing out top-five singles “Earned It”, “The Hills”, and the number-one single “Can’t Feel My Face,” many voices were heard singing along in the the crowd. Sprinkling in covers like Drake’s “Crew Love” and Ty Dolla’s “Ro Nah,” he also supported his newest release, playing songs like “Prisoner” and flowed into other tracks of the album including “Often,” “Earned It,” as well as “The Hills.” Keeping the mood chill, jazzy at times, and textured with sound, The Weeknd was an excellent way to conclude Day One of Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival. Having already had three headlining tours of his own, and tours with Drake and Justin Timberlake, he will continue on The Madness Fall Tour running across the USA into December.
Jam-packed with a diverse mix of top notch talent, Day One of Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival was a major hit and it would be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend a late August Saturday night. Each artist was given the spotlight to performance full sets and possibly engage new fans unfamiliar with their music. With many purchasing two-day passes, the record breaking crowd went home to rest up for day two which was poised to be equally as much fun.