Music festival – I Heart Joburg: Great music, crowd surfing and long queues

2014-09-08 20:32

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Ellis Park was on fire on Saturday and it wasn’t because of the pleasantly hot day.

The 62 567 capacity stadium was set alight by 12 musical acts whose energy nearly left the venue in ashes.

The inaugural I Heart Joburg music festival was a music lovers’ dream – 12 hours of uninterrupted live music, great weather and an awesome crowd.

The festival boasted a hot line-up of local and international acts such as The Arrows, iFani, CrashCarBurn, T-Pain, Fall out Boy, Jessie J, Panic! At the Disco, Jason Derulo and B.o.B.

Although the crowd was happy and eager to see our local musicians perform, the excitement levels only reached fever pitch when the international acts took to the stage.

First up was T-Pain. His performance was not on top of my list, but by the time he had finished his 30-minute set, I found myself chanting his name along with his throngs of fans.

He performed all his hits: Buy U a Drank, Low, All I do is Win and Bartender. And he also treated the audience to remixes of Lorde’s chart topper Royals and LMFAO’s Shuffling – dancing himself to a sweat.

After his set, it was difficult to imagine, that his high energy performance could be topped, but rapper B.o.B took it up a notch.

The stage was too conventional for the rapper so he left and performed parts of his set among his fans in the Golden Circle.

This drove the crowd crazy.

As they grabbed and tugged at him, he carried on rapping without skipping a beat – also having enough multi-tasking skills to take off his Timberland boots and throw them at his fans as he crowd surfed.

As the sunset and temperatures started to cool, Panic! At the Disco ushered the audience into the darkness with their hits Nine In The Afternoon and I Write Sins Not Tragedies.

The rockers then took on the most daring task of the evening – singing a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

As a Queen fan I’m not easily impressed by people’s attempts to produce the magic that Freddie Mercury was able to create with ease.

But lead singer Brendon Urie did the song justice and had people locking hands and swaying back and forth.

After the sombre moment, Jason Derulo kicked up the gears and had people on their feet with his impressive pop and lock dance moves – which were a perfect mood setter for the next act.

Jessie J, who was the only female singer from the international acts, was at her best when she was not trying to interact with the audience.

The 26-year-old was the unlikely star of the whole festival. Seven hours into the music marathon, people’s energies were slowly subsiding, but when she performed, it was impossible not to feel lifted.

Her vocal range and skills were genuinely jaw-dropping.

Last year, South African music fans complained about Rihanna’s one costume change when she performed at FNB stadium, but Jessie J’s great stage presence and showmanship made the lack of costume change irrelevant.

As the evening reached the witching hour, arguably the most anticipated act in the line-up, finally hit the stage.

Fall Out Boy were not short of rock behaviour – bright lights, guitar solos and Pete Wentz’s signature jumps and spins were included in their performance. The group that took a more than two-year hiatus, performed like a well oiled machine and were a perfect end to the festival.

The most disappointing part of the evening were the empty seats in the stadium.

This may have been due to poor promotion or because as it was the first weekend of spring and the festival had to compete with other events. Apart from the long ATM queues, parking difficulties, expensive boerewors rolls and drinks, for a first-time event it was done well.

And this can be accredited to the artists who were for the most part on time and gave stellar performances.

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