Chief Features Editor & Sports Editor
The 8th annual iHeartRadio music festival hit the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, this past weekend for two jam-packed nights of performance. The festival entertained fans with some of the music industry’s most sought after names encompassing a wide range of genres, with headlining musicians from country to rap. Most notably, the first night of the festival marked country crooner Jason Aldean’s first time performing in Las Vegas since the tragic shooting at his set at the Route 91 festival on October 1, 2017. Aldean noted the surreal factor of playing in Las Vegas almost a year after what stands as the deadliest shooting in United States history, remarking that “It’s really our first performance we’ve had since then [the shooting], so tonight is going to be another step in getting through all that stuff, and coming back here is going to be a big part of it.” To commemorate the occasion, Aldean also held a moment of silence for Las Vegas first-responders prior to his set and brought police and firemen on stage that were on duty that fateful night last October.
Friday night also marked Fleetwood Mac’s re-entrance onto the touring scene in their first live performance since lead guitarist and singer Lindsey Buckingham’s acrimonious departure in April. The band replaced Buckingham with Crowded House frontman Neil Finn and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ guitarist Mike Campbell. Campbell proved his worth for the band minutes into the set after ripping a guitar solo on Little Lies. Finn held his own in his new role as lead male singer and guitarist as well, taking over vocals on the typically Nicks and Buckingham-led songs “The Chain” and “Don’t Stop.” He even received a solo in “Second Hand News,” making the message loud and clear to fans that it is the band, not fan-favorite Buckingham, who makes Fleetwood Mac performances great.
Saturday night opened with a riveting 11-song set from Justin Timberlake. In the penultimate song of his performance, Timberlake brought out artist Shawn Mendes for an acoustic duet of “What Goes Around…Comes Around.” Video of the duet hit over 100,000 plays less than 24 hours after the set. Mendes continued the night with his own set afterward that matched the intensity of his prior showings at festival tours this summer, showing his versatility as a musician by including both his own songs and covers by rock band Kings of Leon and R&B star Frank Ocean. Mendes has most certainly had a breakout year—he opened for the MTV Music Awards, sang at the NFL Kickoff concert, and performed with music powerhouses John Mayer, Taylor Swift, and now Timberlake.
Carrie Underwood also graced the iHeartRadio stage in her first performance since the announcement of her pregnancy and struggles with miscarriages. After performing her throwback hit “Last Name,” Underwood told the crowd that “My baby was kicking during that one. My baby likes you guys.” Other notable performances from the festival include Kelly Clarkson, Imagine Dragons, and a new song release from EDM DJ Kygo.