This weekend was Billboard’s Hot 100 Music Festival at Jones Beach on Long Island. The lineup included a slew of the hottest performers as of late such as The Weeknd, Fetty Wap, Kygo, Skrillex, Nicki Minaj & Justin Bieber. All week, my best friend and I were anxiously waiting for Sunday to arrive so we could attend and see what all the hype was about.
Jones Beach Theater is a great stadium location that has amazing views of the ocean. It has the potential to make any event into something spectacular. Unfortunately I have to say that this festival fell short. It was clearly an event planned by novices in the industry and was so poorly run that it made the experience almost unenjoyable. Billboard and Live Nation definitely need to step up their game. To the folks at Billboard– take some notes from Ultra Music Festival.
What went wrong you ask? Well it was clear from the beginning that Billboard oversold tickets. There were way more bodies than there were seats for. This led to intense overcrowding. We had a pass for a special Mastercard viewing deck at the MainStage and could not even get in as early as 4pm. After getting denied at tons of entrances, we reluctantly made our way to the top of the stadium. You know, the place where everyone on the stage looks like an ant. Most of the people that I spoke to (even myself included) had gotten their tickets for free. Maybe that’s why Billboard has been stating that they “broke attendance records.” While a free gift is nothing to complain about, they must have overdid it on the freebies because there were just too many attendees to keep it safe and enjoyable.
The organization of sets also led to overcrowding. Most festivals have “scheduling conflicts”, which are when a few of the best artists are playing at the same time. This leads the masses to spread out among two to three stages. It makes an immense difference when people are spread out at the venue. At this festival all of the top artists played back to back on the main stage with 30-40 minute set breaks. This meant no one left the main stage from 5pm on and the crowds only grew from there.
Next, the staff working the event were rude and nasty. Billboard should be embarrassed that these people represent their brand. I asked a security guard a simple question about where the appropriate seating was for our pass. I got yelled at. Yelled at?? Over that? My response to him was, “You do not need to yell at me. I was only asking a question.” His response? “I’ve answered that question 300 times already to other people.” Ok that’s great sir but that is YOUR JOB. That is what you are getting paid to do. I don’t care how many people asked you. You should still be to polite to people that are not causing any trouble.
Lastly, the festival stopped serving alcohol at 4pm. We were shocked to see that. It is relatively unheard of especially for an event that was ending at 10:30pm. Cue a lot of angry festival goers. People got hostile. Taking away alcohol for some people is like taking away their freedom to have fun. That might be an overreaction but a cocktail or two probably could have taken the edge off of everything else going wrong there.
Luckily the music didn’t disappoint and we still managed to have a good time despite the setbacks. The good performances kept us dancing and out of our seats all night. Even the seats in the nosebleeds couldn’t keep us down.
Kygo kicked off our day with a tropical house set and even featured a performance of ‘Firestone’ with live singing by Conrad.
Next up was Nicki Minaj. Despite her showing up 30 minutes late, she still lit up the crowd. Nicki’s costume choices were on point. That see through jumpsuit? WOW. And let’s face it, her ass never ceases to amaze the crowd. How does it not jiggle when she dances like that? My favorite part of her performance must have been her advice to the women in the crowd. “There’s nothing I hate more than a lazy bitch. Don’t be lazy. Stay in school. Get an education and career and never depend on a man for anything. There’s only one thing you need a man for and that should be when you want it and when you need it.” Never thought I would hear good advice from a rapper but there you go. Every woman should be independent and too often we see women that are too dependent on their significant others. She made a great point.
Skrillex was up next. His electronic mixes of dupstep and hip hop music got the crowd moving. Too bad he thought he was in New Jersey… Come on Skrill! You were offending New Yorkers everywhere. At least get your info straight. His set was upbeat and fun but really everyone was just patiently waiting for the next act…
The real highlight of the night was of all people Justin Bieber. He is a great performer and I was so pleasantly surprised to hear that he has a voice of an angel. His voice is incredible live and is no different than any of his recordings. “Did you miss me? Because I miss you”, he said to thousands of screaming fans in the crowd. I am sensing a major comeback for the Biebs. He had every girl in the crowd wrapped around his finger. He performed his collaboration ‘Where Are You Now’ with Skrillex that took the ending of the show to the next level. If you told me a few years ago that I would have ever been a “Belieber”, I would have laughed in your face. Who would have thought that I would be a full on Bieber fan at 24 years old?! His performance was worth the wait and almost worth all of the issues prior in the day.
In certain aspects, Billboard Hot 100 was a let down from what I was expecting. They have a lot of work to do to improve this festival for next year. If they want to keep attendance next year they need to work on their security staff, organizing set times, and quickening up stage set up between performers. The festival definitely has a lot of potential. If they continue to bring in the same big talent as this year they could make this concert really great.