×
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

  • Wynn Nightlife Announces Residency for Roving

    Wynn Nightlife to Host Las Vegas Residency for Roving Spanish Party Elrow

    One of Las Vegas’ biggest music players is doubling down on the power of a global brand instead of just a single DJ to help them stay on top of Sin City’s increasingly competitive clubbing scene. Wynn Nightlife has announced a year-long residency and partnership with Spain’s Elrow, a respected Ibiza-born party that last year [...]

  • PledgeMusic Down to a ‘Skeleton Staff,’

    PledgeMusic Down to a ‘Skeleton Staff,’ Although a Potential Buyer Is in the Wings

    PledgeMusic, the direct-to-fan marketplace that has faced serious financial troubles in recent months, is down to a “skeleton staff” and payroll in the U.S. office ceased within the last month, sources close to the situation tell Variety, although a potential buyer is “very interested” in the company and has been in due diligence for several [...]

  • The Top 10 Portrayals of Record

    Music Executives on Screen: 10 Memorable Movie Portrayals

    In the Netflix biopic “The Dirt,” Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live” fame portrays A&R exec Tom Zutaut, the man who signed Motley Crue to Elektra and Guns N’ Roses to Geffen, while veteran character actor David Costabile (“The Wire,” “Billions”) is manager Doc McGhee. They follow in a long and illustrious line of label [...]

  • MTV EMAs to Be Held in

    MTV EMAs to Be Held in Seville, Spain

    The MTV EMAs are returning to Spain, heading for the city of Seville after last year’s edition in Bilbao, MTV announced Monday. The 26th annual MTV Europe Music Awards, which will feature acts and music from around the world, is to take place Nov. 3. “We are thrilled to land in Seville for the 2019 [...]

  • R. Kelly

    Dubai Government Says No R. Kelly Concerts Planned in United Arab Emirates

    The government of Dubai has denied that any R. Kelly concerts are planned in the United Arab Emirates after Kelly’s attorney asked a Chicago judge last week to delay a ruling on the R&B singer’s request to travel to Dubai to perform. Local newspaper “The National,” which has government ties, carried a story Monday quoting [...]

  • Singer Scott Walker Dead at 76

    Singer Scott Walker Dies at 76

    Scott Walker, the American singer who attained massive success as a pop star in England before veering off into avante-garde music, has died, according to his label, 4AD. He was 76; no cause or date of death was immediately announced. “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Scott Walker,” a post [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content