It was just after noon when the first music set was to start the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival as thousands descended on the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater for the two-day festival.
Saturday’s schedule included 20+ acts with a heavy emphasis on electronic up-and-comers and Billboard mainstays. The festival featured three stages throughout the venue — the Sun Stage, Beach Stage, and Hot 100 Stage. Attendees were also able to check out two beer gardens, extra special VIP areas with oasis-type vibes (and a full service yacht… seriously), and interactive activations from Nissan.
And then there were the food trucks, scattered throughout the venue, shelling out gyros, tater tots, and empanadas.
Saturday early afternoon featured performances by Bad Royale, London Richards, and Billboard’s own Matt Medved. Later came Gnash, Taylor Bennett, and DJ group Cheat Codes.
The LA-based musical trio jammed and pumped up the crowd (because who needs a shirt if you are Trevor Dahl?), including their top hit “No Promises” and a special guest appearance by Fetty Wap.
Across the festival at the Sun Stage was former Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate lead singer Andrew McMahon, who now performs as part of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The singer went all out for a packed 45-minute set full of more props than this reporter could handle. The frontman, who is best known for his inspirational words and catchy lyrics, found himself on top of the piano and drum sets multiple times as he jumped off them into the crowd.
McMahon started with the pop tune “Fire Escape” and made sure to cover Jack’s Mannequin’s most popular tune “Dark Blue.” There were blow-up dolls, a rainbow-colored parachute over the crowd, and at one point McMahon rode an inflatable Rubber Ducky through the crowd.
With early headliner Kehlani out because of an illness, the crowds started gathering at the Sun Stage for Lil Xan’s set. The California rapper and his team dedicated his set to Lil Peep, the young rapper who overdosed last November. He got the crowd jumping and chanting throughout the set.
Lil Xan along with everyone else headed back to the Hot 100 stage for rap duo Rae Sremmurd, who was up for the next hour. The duo started with “No Type” and continued into “No Flex Zone.” But it was really the crowd action that got the most attention as they grabbed phones from the pit and took selfies.
And then finally, it was time for headliner Halsey, a veritable superstar when it comes to pop music today. Luckily, the clouds and rain cleared right before her set and she sang hit after hit just a bit past her set end time of 11 pmn.
Halsey started her set with “Eyes Closed” off her latest album along with songs like “Strangers,” “Lie,” and “Heaven in Hiding.”
“Now listen, we are in New York right now, which means I am so very close to home. I didn’t come all the way here if we’re not going to have a party tonight, Billboard,” she told the crowd.
Just after 11 pm, Halsey gave the audience what they wanted: an acoustic version of her Chainsmokers collaboration “Closer.” The voices rose up as everyone in the crowd sang along.
We were all better for it. While we can’t wait for next year’s fest, the truth is that we’ll follow Halsey just about wherever she goes.