You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pink, Harry Styles, The Weeknd Bring the Hits to iHeartRadio Music Festival’s Opening Night

If there was one common theme to the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival’s opening night, it was an appreciation for the medium which doesn’t always get its due. Sure, artists like Ed Sheeran are breaking streaming records, while others like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry are moving the YouTube bar with each successive video release, but when it comes to hitmaking, radio — and the 800-station powerhouse iHeartMedia — is a vital partner in an act’s career.

Artists like Pink, The Weeknd, Harry Styles, and David Guetta know this, which is  one reason why the pop giants joined country superstar Chris Stapleton, rockers 30 seconds to Mars, and the ever reliable Coldplay for compact, hit-packed sets at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Friday night (Sept. 22). There was no introduction of “a song I wrote last week” — these were the proven crowd-pleasers, tracks in heavy rotation on iHeart stations like Los Angeles’ KIIS-FM, New York’s Z-100 and Nashville’s WSIX, home to syndicated radio personalities Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran, and Bobby Bones, respectively.

In its seventh year, iHeart has also become the forum in which to push a new single, as Pink did with “What About Us” from her forthcoming album, “Beautiful Trauma,” out Oct. 13. Always an artist of the people, Pink interacted with the crowd from the house floor, the stage, and the air, as she tore through “Just Like Fire” then strapped on a harness and pulled her best Peter Pan for “So What.” Watching from backstage, Leto and 30 Seconds to Mars stood in awe, as Leto commented of a dream he’d had, “where I was flying.”

Meanwhile, Harry Styles is seeing his solo dream come true. With a guitar strapped to his custom-made Gucci suit, the One Direction star brought audience members young and old to their feet. And considering the T-Mobile arena is only two years old, it stands to reason that Styles’ set brought classic rock references — like David Bowie and Small Faces era Rod Stewart — to the room for the first time, too. Certainly that was the case as Styles launched into the epic “Sign of the Times” (he joked that he would have flown but “Pink stole my harness”) and closed with the showstopper “Kiwi.” Earlier asked by the beloved Duran about potentially running into fellow One Direction member-turned-solo star Niall Horan, Styles cracked that he would try “not to trip” his mate.

Harry Styles performs at the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival Day 1 held at T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 1, Las Vegas, USA - 22 Sep 2017

Other highlights included a calming set by Coldplay — all-too-welcome in this time of political turmoil. The British band kicked off with their Avicii-assisted smash, “Sky Full of Stars,” then serenaded a love crowd with “Hymn for The Weekend,” “Fix You” (which frontman Chris Martin performed laying on the stage floor), and “Adventure of a Lifetime.” Martin even gave a nod to Styles, singing a lyric from “Sign of the Times.”

Chris Martin of Coldplay iHeart Radio Festival, Show, Day 1, Las Vegas, USA - 22 Sep 2017

Also embraced was Stapleton, who opened with “Might as Well Get Stoned” then played the Springsteen-esque “Broken Halos” and crowd favorite “Tennessee Whiskey.” As Duran noted backstage: the wonder of iHeart’s music festivals is that it turns people on to music they wouldn’t have otherwise listened to.

Chris Stapleton performs at the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival Day 1 held at T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 1, Las Vegas, USA - 22 Sep 2017

Of course, with the universally loved The Weeknd, no such modifier was needed. Opening with “Starboy,” he quickly set to get the party started with “Party Monster.” “Every time you forget who I am / I’ll be there to remind you again,” he sang from the stage. The set was balanced and fun, delivering familiar hooks (like his nod to the Romantics and Tears for Fears in “Secrets”), and undeniable bangers like “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills.”

The Weeknd iHeart Radio Festival, Show, Day 1, Las Vegas, USA - 22 Sep 2017

David Guetta certainly felt at home, remarking that, “I spend more time in Vegas than anywhere else in the world.” Indeed, a well-honed DJ set followed that included a surprise appearance by Bebe Rexha, the Bieber-assisted track, “2U,” as well as mixes of White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” and Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.”

Speaking to Variety, the French Guetta noted: “This is a very interesting moment [as] music — and the way people are consuming it — is shifting a lot. But there is nothing like a radio hit. Streaming goes up faster, and it’s slower with radio, but when it happens it is so huge you cannot compare this with anything. For an artist it is life changing.”

David Guetta performs at the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival Day 1 held at T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas 2017 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 1, Las Vegas, USA - 22 Sep 2017

More Music

  • Ariana GrandeBillboard's 13th Annual Women in

    Ariana Grande Announces Tracklist for 'Thank U, Next'

    Ariana Grande has provided material for a thousand memes with the release of the tracklist for her fifth studio album, “Thank U, Next.” According to an Instagram post, the tracklist for the upcoming album, to be released February 8, is as follows: Imagine Needy NASA Bloodline Fake Smile Bad Idea Make Up Ghostin In My [...]

  • DJ Snake Ozuna Selena Gomez Cardi

    Hitmaker of the Month: How Geffen's Neil Jacobson Took 'Taki Taki' to the Finish Line

    DJ Snake’s bilingual banger, “Taki, Taki,” is the latest reggaeton track to become a bona fide pop hit thanks to an alignment of stars (Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B) and the guidance of Geffen Records president Neil Jacobson. “There’s somewhat of an inexact science to making collaborative records like this,” says Jacobson, the veteran A&R [...]

  • Chris Brown rape allegation

    Chris Brown Released From Custody With No Charges Filed

    Chris Brown has been released from custody in Paris with no charges filed after being detained on rape accusations, a rep for the singer tells Variety, citing an Associated Press report. Brown and two other people, who were not identified but reports said were Brown’s bodyguard and a friend, were released at around 10 p.m. [...]

  • Bob PittmanVariety Entertainment Summit at CES,

    iHeartMedia Bankruptcy Plan Approved, CEO Bob Pittman's Contract Renewed

    A U.S. court has approved the bankruptcy plan of iHeartMedia, the biggest radio broadcaster in the U.S., which will shave down its crushing debt load and separate iHeartMedia from Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings. The company said chairman and CEO Bob Pittman and Rich Bressler, president, COO and CFO, have extended their contracts by four years. [...]

  • Elton John and Mark Ronson

    Elton John to 'Shallow' Songwriter Mark Ronson: 'You're Going to Win the Oscar'

    Elton John is willing to bet that Mark Ronson will win the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.” The nominations were announced this morning. The legendary performer spoke to Ronson on the latest episode of his radio show “Elton John’s Rocket Hour” on Apple Music’s Beats 1.  “You’re having a [...]

  • Andrea Ganis Promoted to President of

    Atlantic Records Elevates Andrea Ganis to President of Promotion

    Andrea Ganis has been promoted to the newly created position of president of promotion for Atlantic Records, it was announced today by Atlantic Chairman & COO Julie Greenwald and Chairman & CEO Craig Kallman. In her new role, she will continue to oversee all promotion activities for Atlantic and its subsidiary labels while serving on [...]

  • Gustavo Dudamel Walk of Fame Honor

    Gustavo Dudamel, Hollywood Bowl’s Biggest Star, Gets One of His Own Down the Hill

    Perusing conductor Gustavo Dudamel’s recent and upcoming schedule is enough to make anyone feel like a serious underperformer. In the past 12 months, Dudamel has guided the Los Angeles Philharmonic through half of its 100th season; made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in New York; started an ongoing lecture/seminar series at Princeton University; toured [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content