What makes most people’s summers? The sun, the beach, and most of all…music. Every year, one of the biggest festivals takes place showcasing the artists and songs that make us sing and dance our hearts out. These are the top songs on the Billboard Charts, one of the largest music industry enterprises in America and this year’s line-up, as shown below, was on fire! (some literal fire for set design too!)
(All of the images below were taken by Nicole Mohaghegh, me.)
If you are a music lover, a sing-out-loud-until-you-are-screaming person, an avid concert-goer and a summer sunshine absorber— then, this summer music festival is one that has to be experienced and put somewhere on your bucket list.
It is the strangest and most fantastic melange of ritz and glamour, grunge and hipster, exhibiting some of the best voices of each genre.
Live Nation produced the large music festival this year— The Billboard Hot 100 Festival 2015– which included some of the “hottest” artists of the year! The festival is wonderful because, though it obviously has the mainstream types of performers, it also has less-known but still significant stars and even new, upcoming artists. It is like an all-you-can-eat buffet of genres and experiences and you can choose which day you want to go to and what artists you want to hear.
I had the honor of being press at the festival this summer located at the Nikon Theatre on Jones Beach, Long Island, New York on August 22nd and 23rd. I got to cover the whole two days of non-stop musical entertainment, and I could not have been any happier to be there. This year was a huge year for the venue, setting a record in history for the festival by drawing over 40,000 fans to the event. Billboard reported:
“It’s official: the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival has been a box-office scorcher.
I got to bring my handy dandy Nikon camera (aka my baby) and set off to explore the pier that would soon become a concert wonderland.
When entering the stadium, which is constructed over a body of beach water, there is a semi-circle shaped space that you could walk through to each of the three stages called the “Plaza” and it was lined with all of the delicious junk food that makes summer, summer! No festival is ever complete without chicken tenders, burgers, hot dogs, smoothies, soft serve (the best!), cold-brew coffee, grilled cheese trucks, warm soft pretzels, candy, sodas, and the like! They also had sponsors scattered throughout the arena such as Sour Patch Kids who had a whole lounge set up for people to chill and eat free Sour Patch Kids, banks and telephone companies like Citi Bank and Verizon Fios, local radio stations set up with carnival games and prizes, DJs who blasted music allowing people walking by to have a chance to stop and just dance around like madmen, artists’ merchandise sold, hair braided, flash tattoos distributed, beauty samples given out, and so much more occurred all over.
A nail polish company, known as Sinful Colors, was giving out free nail polish to people in order to sign a large white buggy. Even a swegway company came out to let people give them a ride! (That was sick and unbelievably scary — haha.)
Anchored by the dock of the beach was the Billboard’s Yacht “Sapphire Princess!” It was where all of the artists would hang out during the day when they were not performing and if you were around and lucky, you could see them all chilling together.
We were even honored by the visitation of Doug the Pug! OMG.
Artists were all over the place and I was lucky enough to be able to meet Tori Kelly, MKTO, and the X Ambassadors! They were all so chill and fun to talk to.
I went to the Hot 100 Stage and saw the massive structure eating up the space of the beach which was just incredible. The very fact that all of these seats and spaces were occupied and overflowing later on was mind blowing! Just shows you how large these artists are and how much of an impact their music has on us! Then there was the Samsung Level Stage which was a structure on a cement lot that people could stand on and there was the Beach Stage which was on the opposite end of the entire vicinity and was located, well, next to the beach.
Everyone was there for a common purpose, and I think that is what draws festival goers to these places together. I think this is the one event, besides Coachella, where you can find a variety, a diversity in the crowd of music fanatics together sharing a commonality because even though the stages split up artists, they vary the genres across the board and you would find the Indie hipster standing next to the hip-hopper. Someone who loved ZZ Ward, American Authors, Misterwives, Halsey, and The Maine would be next to someone who adored Weezy, Nicki Minaj, Natalie LaRose and MKTO.
Little Mix was the first big name group to perform and they definitely had the crowd energized and ready for a day of musical festivities! They were sexy and powerful, singing and dancing flawlessly!
In addition, festival clothing was of course strutted around, guys in muscle tanks, girls in crop tops and high waisted shorts, patterns and colors of all sorts, and for girls mostly of the Brandy Melville style and guys in their hats and calf-high socks and bright colored sneakers and some sweet shades.
I noticed though that there was a growing pattern in most of the music, electronic. It seems that there were many DJs at this festival from big names like Kygo, Skrillex, and Axwell^Ingrosso, The Chainsmokers, to others like Michael Woods, Matoma, Michael Brun, Party Thieves, and Kydd. It was impressive seeing that the crowd would double or even triple in magnitude when these performers were on stage and people really zoned into the music then dancing all over the place, pumping their fists, nodding their heads, screaming and jumping! It was a rave—a major rager! You can tell that Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is beginning to be huge because even artists that were not in this realm beforehand have at least collaborated in some way on an EDM song. To name a few for example, take Justin Bieber’s newest hit single with Skrillex “Where R Ü Now” or Kiesza’s “To Ü” or a few songs of Nicki Minaj’s, Jason Derulo’s, and The Weeknd’s. Let’s admit that a good pump-up, electronically synthesized song goes a long way for a summer or workout jam and today’s artists have realized that. It can really change the atmosphere of a crowd which is probably where I noticed people having the most fun during the festival!
In fact, Kygo, a very popular and great Tropical House DJ, literally “Stole the Show” with his set and music blasting fire and confetti and fog out in the crowd who was singing along to his songs like Firestone! His tropical house mix was just the perfect tone for the atmosphere. Axwell^Ingrosso played an hour and half straight and not once did I see any one want to stop jumping. Do not even get me started with Skrillex and his masterful explosions of absurdity and mastery from his set to his remixes.
It was a star studded event— no doubt of that. A multitude of activities all happening at once in our own little world of music, isolated from everything else–paradise? All I know is that in these instances we felt like there was no need to control anything, we just let the artists perform and let the music do the talking. The crowd was lively, enthusiastic and upbeat. So many smiling people asked me to take pictures of them posing with friends in hilarious ways. Even the security guards were chill and dancing with the crowd whether jumping to the exciting acts of New Politics or bouncing to the best beats of Lil Wayne and Fetty Wap!
AND… please, let us not forget one of the best performances of the two nights, being The Weeknd! The force he brought to the stage, from his sinister set and dark ambience with sudden bursts of light and the perfectly toned music filled with feels and emotion, left the crowd speechless. His silhouettes dancing across the stage and his falsettos matched to the sounds of the audience’s echoes and fabricated the perfect night time aura as people swayed and sang along to all of his hits, new and old.
I think the tears of screaming girls for Bieber and for The Weeknd accurately describes the mood of the weekend. A memorable experience that I would want to relive over and over again.
All of it was a myriad of voices, sounds, lights, and movement. Something thrilling and beautiful. If you were not at one stage, you were still feeling the bass or the treble of another tune coming from some other sound source punching your chest and ringing in your ears. At every corner and in every direction you were hit by sound waves and they would linger upon you all day long as a kind of source of energy amongst the groups of people.
A wonderful fact of festivals is that because there are so many forms of music appreciation, people do not judge where and who you are watching because everyone is there for one sole purpose— music— the kind that makes YOU groove and fits YOUR vibe, and that is what matters, nothing else.
On the second and final night, after an “explosive” performance by both Bieber and Skrillex, Billboard set off fireworks over the beach to summon the night to a close. A very fitting end.
Each night, one artist would always still be performing so that as you walked across the parking lot you could see the shadows of the beach and the moon and lamplights lit the way for tired concert-goers to dance wobbly to, still smiling.
If attending this was not previously on your mind, then I would seriously reconsider that now. I can still feel the music chills I got when I was at the concert, and I can not wait for the next time the festival comes around.