Labeled as a “free concert” by most Millenials, the Global Citizen Festival hosted their 3rd annual charity simulcast on MSNBC and NBC this weekend. The Great Lawn united close to 50,000 attendees with one mission – end extreme poverty by 2030. Although there were VIP sections available for purchase (donation), the lion’s share of tickets were released for free after users shared a bevy of socioeconomic awareness links across all social media channels. Furthermore, there were six GA sections that were structured by your arrival time. Needless to say, it was difficult meeting up with friends as this was not a free roaming type of event.
While the music was the main attraction for younger demographics, foreign Prime Ministers and celebrity presenters balanced the day out by speaking on their commitments to fixing ongoing problems that are prevalent across the globe. These global issues include hunger, gender equality, sustainability and social innovation with the focus of this year’s Festival being on vaccination, education and sanitation. Whether it’s guaranteeing access to a toilet or making vaccinations more widely accessible, Global Citizen is dedicated to improving health and living situations around the world through raising awareness and commitment levels of high powered organizations and individuals. Perhaps the most exciting pledge of the evening was taken by Narendra Modi, the PM of India – promising a toilet in every home in India by 2019! Other speakers and presenters included celebrities Hugh Jackman, Katie Holmes, Allison Williams and Jessica Alba (to name a few) and both foreign and domestic dignitaries such as Queen Silvia of Sweden, PM of Norway, Erna Solberg, PM of India, Narendra Modi and video messages from Malala and Mr. President Obama. For a deeper look into what this year’s Global Citizen Festival accomplished, click here.
In order, headlining performances included Tiësto, Alicia Keys, The Roots, fun., Carrie Underwood, No Doubt, Sting and Jay Z. To much dismay of my EDM passion, the Trance turned Progressive Techno/House producer DJ Tiësto started the festival off in broad day light. While the timing was not optimal, he warmed up the crowd with a few of his Top 40 hits including ‘Wasted’, ‘Last Train’, ‘Red Lights’ and a remix to Sam Smith and Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’. Take a peek and listen below:
Alicia Keys had a special surprise performance Saturday afternoon as she was not on the original bill after killing it last year. Her new single ‘We are Here’ illuminates issues across the globe, a bit more fitting than her electronic counterpart who kicked off the day. Keys brought Israeli and Palestinian musicians on stage with her to perform the new song in a truly moving moment.
Next up was Jimmy Fallon’s house band, The Roots. Joined with vocalists and dancers, they definitely brought the funk during the midday action. ?uestlove lead an impressive rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move on Up’.
fun. threw down for the indie jam band scene, keeping the crowd going to songs like ‘Some Nights’ and ‘Carry On’.
One of the most impressive performances of the day was Carrie Underwood strutting her stuff; pregnant in heels. I was not aware of this until after the fact which is even more surprising! The country vibes were flowing through the audience as festival goers began to relax and camp out as the sunset paralyzed us all with its’ beautiful hue. Carrie has a 35+ minute performance that can be seen below:
No Doubt took the stage shortly after Carrie’s country performance to up the energy level of the crowd with some rock and roll. Despite being on a hiatus for quite some time, No Doubt and front-woman, Gwen Stefani, were at the top of their game. They ran through a setlist of all their hits including ‘Just A Girl’, ‘Hey Baby’ and ‘Don’t Speak’. The climax of their energetic set came when Sting took the stage and joined them for a beautiful rendition of the very fitting ‘Message In A Bottle’.
The final performer of the night was Brooklyn native, Jay Z. Immediately upon taking the stage, Jay commanded the attention of the 50,000 Global Citizens spread out over the Great Lawn. His setlist consisted of verses after verses of some of his most popular songs and features including ’99 problems’, ‘Clique’, ‘Empire State of Mind’ and ‘On To The Next One’. He had the whole place dancing and rapping along - transitioning between hits without missing a beat. To conclude his set and a wonderful day of movements and music, Jay Z surprised the audience by bringing Beyoncé out on stage for performances of ‘Holy Grail’ and ‘Forever Young’. To see the beautiful, lit up finale to the Global Citizen Festival, please watch below:
Written by Sterling Champion & Booksy Collins