After leaving campus at noon to travel 40 minutes on the subway and wait over two hours in line, we were excited to claim our patch of grass and prepare ourselves for the headliners we had come to see, namely No Doubt and Jay Z, when we finally arrived at the Great Lawn around 4:00.
First up on the star-studded line up was Tiësto, who opened the festival and got the crowd going with hits including “Wasted”. There was definitely something weird about experiencing the EDM set at a charity-based and relatively family-friendly event that was a far stretch from festivals like EDC. Regardless of how out of place Tiësto might have been, we danced along anyway and tried to pretend we weren’t feet from infants and some clearly confused moms.
The pregnant Carrie Underwood gave an impressive performance that included some of her classics like “Cowboy Cassanova,” “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and, my personal favorite, “Before He Cheats.”
Finally, it was time for the headliners that we came for. First came No Doubt who delivered a lively set that made me nostalgic for the early 2000’s. The gorgeous and talented Gwen Stefani sounded awesome live, as did the rest of her band mates. There was even a special appearance from Sting who joined the band for their cover of “Message in a Bottle.”
Photo courtesy of Samantha Mandich
There was a rather long gap between the end of No Doubt’s set and the beginning of Jay Z’s, which created audible anticipation among the the huge crowd. When Hov finally appeared on stage at around 9:00, he kicked off his set with “Empire State of Mind”, to which the NYC crowd reacted to pretty how you would expect. The rest of the performance featured both classics and some new material ranging from “99 Problems” to “Tom Ford.”
The highlight of the night definitely came in the last two songs of Jay’s set when wife Beyoncé made a special guest appearance to join him in performing “Holy Grail” and “Forever Young.” I had speculated with my friends earlier in the week about Bey making a guest appearance at the festival but I don’t think any of us were really expecting it. Let’s just say there were some tears and lots of screaming.
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