After an incredible Rock Weekend, we had a full week to get excited about week 2 of our first journey to the United States. Luckily, the first day of Pop Weekend was filled with some of the biggest stars on the planet.
James Bay led off the Evolution Stage with a bluesy set that got the crowd moving. It wouldn’t have been out of place on our Rock lineup, though his incredible showmanship and catchy melodies proved that he more than deserved the opening slot today. And that was just the beginning. Tove Lo followed him with an energetic, talked-about set that was filled with hits like “Habits (Stay High)” and “Talking Body”. The Swedish songstress certainly showed why her most recent album is titled Queen of the Clouds, as her haze-filled vocals brought everyone into the sky.
Tove Lo’s set kicked off a theme, as the next five hours were filled with strong female singers. Ivete Sangalo showed why her fans call her “Queen”, with hundreds (if not thousands) of fans flying in to the Main Stage with their Brazilian flags to sing along. Her Brazilian fans to her hits in Portuguese while covers of “Could You Be Loved” and “Human Nature” helped American audiences get in the act.
Charli XCX showed why she’s one of the most exciting young stars in the pop music world, leading the audience through thunderous versions of smashes like “Break the Rules”, “Superlove”, and “Boom Clap.” Her all-female backing band gave the set a scrappy, feminist vibe that put extra oomph into each fist pump. It was a great contrast with Echosmith’s smooth radio jams, as the Main Stage crowd joined in to create beautiful music for songs like the acoustic singalong “Bright” and the be-yourself anthem “Cool Kids.”
As the sun went down, Jessie J decided it was time to put on a pop star clinic for everyone else. She put on an absolutely masterful performance for her third Rock in Rio—singing powerfully in perfect harmony with her band and dancing around the stage wildly. Hits like “Domino”, “Sweet Talker”, and “Bang Bang” rang out over the entire City of Rock.
Our penultimate performance of the evening somehow dialed the excitement up another notch. Ed Sheeran made the ground move with just an acoustic guitar, a loop pedal, and a microphone. The UK songwriter’s set had maybe the best crowd reception of any set in the United States, a tall order when you consider the number of talented artists who have stepped on our stages. The crowd was alight with cell phones and hands waving, sparking a fire that brought everyone at the entire festival together in song. It was so moving, that after Sheeran’s set, a woman proposed to her boyfriend on the festival screen, displaying their love for the entire crowd.
Finally, it was time for what so many fans had been waiting for. It’s hard to believe that it took this long for Taylor Swift and Rock in Rio to cross paths: we’re the biggest music festival in the world, and she’s the biggest pop star on the planet. When our gates opened at 3pm, fans that had been waiting in line since 3am the night before sprinted directly to the Main Stage and stayed there for eight straight hours. The held signs, wore costumes, and sang songs while they waited for their idol, and she didn’t disappoint. Taylor brought her entire 1989 World Tour to Rock in Rio USA, as a full band and floating catwalk joined our already impressive Main Stage setup for a once-in-a-lifetime event. The live world premiere of “Wonderland” and a duet of “Tenerife Sea” with Ed Sheeran were just some of the moments that happened on Day 1 of Rock in Rio USA.
Our first trip to the US is almost over, but we’re going out with a bang. We’re looking forward to amazing musical performances tomorrow from Bruno Mars, John Legend, Joss Stone, and many more. Buy tickets to Day 2 here.