By Ayana Allen
John Legend has performed in huge stadiums to massive crowds at the Super Bowl, WrestleMania, political conventions and at Live Earth. He's a guy who by now should be comfortable with fame and attention. But last night during his performance at New York's Madison Square Garden — the first time he has ever headlined the iconic arena — he seemed just slightly overwhelmed by the energy of it all.
"I used to sing this song in clubs," he said before launching into "Stay With You," the final song in his set. "And I couldn't wait for the day I got to sing it in Madison Square Garden."
(Click here for more photos from from John Legend's performance at Madison Square Garden!)
Legend certainly treated the show like a huge event, welcoming friends Kanye West, Rick Ross, Estelle, reggae legend Buju Banton and opening act India.Arie to the stage for some all-star collaborations.
"This is a star-studded event!" Legend announced following his opening number, a spot-on take on Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," which he crooned from the audience. He made his way up to the stage and rolled out hit after hit, climaxing in the appearance of Estelle and West for an extended version of the trio's hit "American Boy."
For one lucky fan, the highlight came when Legend invited her up on stage for a slow dance during (obviously) "Slow Dance." Though she looked like she was about to faint, she maintained her composure and walked away with a kiss on the cheek, a long-stemmed red rose and an unforgettable memory for her trouble.
But fans didn't need to dance with the man to appreciate the evening. By the time he ended the show with "Green Light," he had managed to seduce everybody at MSG.
You're forgiven if a glance at the top of this year's Lollapalooza bill makes you feel like you've fallen into a wormhole to 1991. Between old-school headliners Tool, Depeche Mode and Jane's Addiction (fellow old-schoolers the Beastie Boys had to drop out due to Adam Yauch's cancer diagnosis) and new school topliners who channel the good old days (Kings of Leon's 1970s AM radio rock, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' '80s new wave and the Killers' early U2 pose), everything old is new again.
But dig a bit deeper and there's plenty of gold on the Chicago waterfront among the 100-ish bands who will sprawl out over the mile-long festival site in Grant Park, which kicks off tomorrow. Your legs might give out before you make it to all these sets, but catch half of them and you'll thank yourself (or me) later.
The Henry Clay People
These Glendale, California shaggy dogs bring a West Coast halo to the bleary-eyed barroom rock perfected by the Hold Steady and the Replacements. Songs like the title track from their album Working Part Time, in which they bemoan "We were working part time all the time," perfectly capture the get-in-the-van indie experience. They're on early, but it'll probably be just the wake-up call you need.
How can you not love a band with a song called "The Narwhal?" Unicorned sea creatures notwithstanding, this Brooklyn-based psychedelic five-piece made noise at this year's South by Southwest festival and are starting to bend ears with their truly trippy, dirge-erific debut, Rewild. Plus, they're pals with MGMT and Chairlift, so at the very least they have good taste.
By Selina Kaye
Last night, Robin Thicke and Jazmine Sullivan each delivered swoon-worthy sets at a free concert in Brooklyn, NY as part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. concert series. But I'm not going to lie: While Sullivan is a stellar performer who delivered neck-snapping renditions of some of her best songs (including "Bust Your Windows," a show highlight), I was mostly there to drink in Thicke.
Anticipation for the sensuous R&B crooner was high, and he converted the chants of "Robin!" into lustful screams as soon as he hit the stage and busted into "Teach Me a Lesson." The moaning and pelvic thrusting continued through snogs from both of his albums, including the Lil Wayne-assisted hit single "Shooter."
In the middle of his performance, Robin Thicke paid homage to late legend Michael Jackson with his own version of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," which prompted the audience to sing along at a deafening volume. He walked off the stage leaving behind the same fever pitch that welcomed him, making it clear that when it comes to Robin Thicke, it's never enough.
By Jett Wells & Corey Celt
The All Points West Music Festival was a hot mess in more ways that one, but it was also filled with special musical moments. It was a long weekend, but we came out of the festival feeling wiser now that we know what it takes to survive during an action-packed summer music festival. Between the unforgettable sets and the strange sightings, here are the 10 things that will stick with us.
Even though All Points West was packed with top-shelf talent, more than one of the weekend's largest bands failed to live up to expectations. Coldplay, on the other hand, played with swagger and unquestionable passion. They get a lot of heat for being middle-of-the-road, but when it came to delivering the big rock moment with a healthy dose of spectacle — witness the giant balloons rolling over the crowd during "Yellow" — nobody else came close.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Keeping the attention of a festival crowd can be tough, but from the moment Karen O walked on stage to kick off her band's set with "Heads Will Roll," she had everybody eating out of the palm of her hand. And why not? She swerved like a reptilian temptress and waved her microphone like magical wand — clearly, she knows how to cast a spell.
By Matt Paco
Despite a forecast of thunderstorms, which plagued the All Points West Festival on Friday and Sunday, it was beautiful clear skies last night at the APW after party, where Peter Bjorn & John gave an intimate rooftop performance above Manhattan's Cooper Square Hotel.
With the iridescent New York City skyline as a backdrop, the Swedish trio served a smorgasbord of delicious tracks: "Nothing to Worry About," "Don't Move Me," "Lay It Down" and of course their hit "Young Folks." Curiously, PB&J wanted their roadies to hold up the band's amps to the mics during the whole performance, but no matter — they sounded great anyway. They saved the best for last, as their encore consisted of a spot-on cover of Europe's "The Final Countdown."
To many in the screaming crowd of 150 fans and industry insiders (which included actress Mischa Barton), the after party (sponsored by Music Unites and BMF) was a fitting end to the three day festival. Amid cries for more, frontman Peter Moren bid the crowd adieu yelling, "Thank you, top of the world!" For those attending this special nosebleed performance, on top of the world is exactly how they felt.
By Haley Murphy
As thousands of fans stood outside of NBC studios this morning for "Today," it felt like a flashback to the JoBros' appearance on the show earlier this month, but this time, "Today" hosted another set of brothers to their summer stage: crossover indie rock darlings Kings of Leon. It was the sixth early-morning concert I've attended this summer, and just like the others, the Kings of Leon performance was well worth the early wake-up call.
The Tennessee natives — three brothers and their cousin — attracted hordes of followers who stood in the pouring rain waiting for the show to start. Despite the wet surroundings and the family-friendly environment, guitarist Matthew Followill still made a rock star's entrace, lazily smoking a cigarette while tuning his guitar as the brothers talked amongst themselves.
The rain finally let up right after a quick soundcheck, just in time for a dry performance. As the umbrellas came down and the tents were put up, the band ripped into their majestic hit "Use Somebody." The band, who first gained a following in Europe and have spent a lot of time there recently, commented about how nice it was to be home and how much they were looking forward to their upcoming U.S. tour.
Following a few minutes of addressing the comparison to U2 ("Those are pretty big shoes to fill," said singer Caleb), the band finished up the set with "Notion" and "Sex on Fire," both from their fourth album Only By the Night (which just attained platinum status). Despite their huge success, they seemed humbled by the huge crowd and took time to thank the crowd for stopping by. That took a while, especially considering they attracted the largest crowd in the concert series' history, with over 20,000 ticket requests. The Followills may not be as big as the Jonas Brothers, but they've got that leg up.
By Sohyung Kang
Everyone has that one album that can define their youth. For me, that album was Green Day's Dookie. I played it on repeat so often, my brother physically pried it from my hands one day because it was driving him crazy. I was 11 years old when the record came out and established Green Day as a breakthrough punk rock band. It took me fifteen years, but I finally got to see them live last night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The concert was just as I'd imagined it would be: Lots of stunts, pyrotechnics, fierce drumming by Tré Cool, plenty of joking around by Billie Joe and enough songs from Dookie to please the older folks like myself.
Yet there were still plenty of surprises. Read More...
By Rahman Dukes
SCRANTON, Pennsylvania — On our way to the Toyota Pavilion, we couldn't help but notice the chaos that had arrived on the once-sleepy Davis Street. Just 24 hours earlier, the strip was so quiet that the only thing noticeable was a deer in plain view. But now, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic and police escorting the growing number of cars.
What's all the fuss about, you ask? Fans are making their way to the Toyota Pavilion to watch some of hip-hop's finest, including Lil Wayne, Drake, Young Jeezy and many more, on Young Money Presents: The America's Most Wanted Music Festival.
"We came to see Weezy and Soulja Boy," said Mary Kate, who drove two hours from Philadelphia with three friends. "If I gotta pick one, then it has to be Weezy. My favorite song is [Young Money's] 'Every Girl,' featuring Drake."
But were the fans more excited about the show or when they caught a glimpse of our driver? "Holy s---, is that Sway from MTV?" said an amazed Lil Wayne fan as me and my partner Shaheem were caught in traffic with Sway at the wheel.
By Rahman Dukes
SCRANTON, Pennsylvania — Fresh off a flight, Atlanta's trap star, Mr. 17.5, Young Jeezy himself arrived at the Toyota Pavilion Center with his CTE crew not far behind. Draped in his usual Dickies garb and navy blue Chucks, a tired-looking Jeezy sat down to chop it up with Sway for a few following his rehearsal for tonights show.
"How long this gonna take?" Jeezy asked Sway. Who could blame him? Jeezy wanted to make sure he got a decent amount of rest before he hit that stage tonight just before 8 p.m. I've had the pleasure of witnessing a few shows from the man myself, and I must say he delivers.
While you'll be sure to catch much more of our interview with Jeezy, one of the highlights that stood out (and may not make the final cut) was Jeezy's guarantee that he will make the annual MTV News "Hottest MCs in the Game" list. "I been on that a few times," he said with a smirk. When Sway posed the question as to who his vote for hottest MC was, he responded that it probably was a few names that mainstream media wouldn't necessarily agree with, including Lil Boosie. "We could have our own roundtable and chop it up over some Swisher Sweets," he said. I'll take that deal any day, my friend.
After we let Jeezy go, we finally recieved our credentials (can't you feel the excitement coming off of Sway's face in that picture?). Now it's back to the hotel we go. We've still got the Soulja Boy interview on deck, and then it's showtime. Stay tuned and we'll holla at you again soon.
By Katie Byrne
Grace Jones' Hurricane tour stormed into the Hollywood Bowl last night, and one thought kept coming to mind: Lady Gaga wishes she were half as badass as Grace.
Let's back up a second. It's been awhile since the striking model/actress/musician/all-around performance artist has been in the public eye, so it's safe to assume that JoBros fans and Twilighters aren't familiar with her. But Grace has been working alongside big names for quite some time, like Eddie Murphy in "Boomerang," James Bond in "A View to a Kill" and California's governor in "Conan the Barbarian." Her music has made just as big an impact, starting with three disco albums in the late '70s and continuing through this year's Hurricane.
Which brings us to now. When Jones appeared onstage last night, she looked like a 10-foot-tall, rectangular, silver ghost. She sang her first song, "This Is," standing on a pedestal, covered in a silver sheet, and the crowd went insane. She removed the sheet to reveal a zebra bodysuit and a white headdress/mane that she whipped around like a wild animal. Her startling contralto voice perfectly matched her severe costumes and stage presence, and her larger-than-life presence filled up the massive Bowl.
And that was just the first two songs.