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

  • Sean Diddy Combs

    MTV, Sean 'Diddy' Combs Reunite for 'Making the Band' Return

    MTV and Sean “Diddy” Combs are reuniting to reboot the reality competition series “Making the Band.” The show is slated to premiere in 2020. Its return was prompted by a tweet Diddy recently posted suggesting it was time for a comeback. Originally featuring the creation of early 2000s boy band O-Town (the show was conceived [...]

  • Bob Dylan Neil Young

    Bob Dylan and Neil Young Duet — Finally! — at Joint Tour Finale (Watch)

    Bob Dylan and Neil Young harked back to the days of the Carter administration — the Carter Family administration, that is — on Sunday for their first-on stage duet in a quarter-century: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Fans had hoped for a teaming between the two at other stops along the way on their European [...]

  • BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior

    BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior VP of Digital Licensing

    BMI today announced that David Levin has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Licensing, effective immediately. In his newly expanded role, Levin is responsible for all of BMI’s domestic licensing and revenue generation, encompassing radio, television, digital media, cable, satellite and general licensing.  Levin, who will oversee teams in New York and Nashville, reports [...]

  • Austin Butler to Star as Elvis

    Austin Butler to Star as Elvis in Baz Luhrmann's Biopic

    Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic has found its king of rock ‘n’ roll. After numerous screen tests, Austin Butler has been tapped to play Elvis Presley in Luhrmann’s next feature film for Warner Bros. The studio tested with a handful of actors in full hair and make-up at the end of June to see who [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House

    Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House for Local Residents Before Permit Review Tuesday

    If nothing else, the producers of Woodstock 50 are persistent. After two permit applications to hold the troubled festival at the Vernon Downs racetrack in Upstate New York were rejected by the town of Vernon codes office, the producers and venue owner Jeffrey Gural today invited the local community “to embrace the Festival’s spirit of [...]

  • ‘Gully Life’ Film Shines a Light

    ‘Gully Life’ Documentary Shines a Light on India's Fast-Rising Hip-Hop Scene (Watch)

    This month, a documentary about Mumbai rapper Divine (a.k.a. Vivian Fernandes), one of the most-streamed Indian independent artists on Spotify, aired not just on Red Bull TV but also Discovery, which reached homes across the subcontinent. “Gully Life: The Story of Divine,” directed by Mumbai-based Akshat Gupt of Supari Studios, is the first of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content