Capital One JamFest feat. Maroon 5, Pitbull, Flo Rida & Aloe Blacc
April 3, 2016
Dear Final Four visitors,
You got lucky!
— Houston weather
It was one of those rare, late-spring, not-yet-summer weekends in Houston where the temperatures were bearable, the mosquitos were nonexistent and even the road construction was minimal. In other words, the city was primed for a fun, festive and free outdoor music showcase courtesy of the NCAA and the Final Four. The lineup was a mix of pop, rap, rock and soul, which provided thousands of lucky music fans with enough quality entertainment to last for four Final Fours.
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Up first was Aloe Blacc, who basically owned 2013 and 2014 with his singles "Wake Me Up" and "The Man." The California native was decked out in a cool black blazer, fedora and aviator shades, leading the early crowd to clap and sing along to his smooth R&B/pop hits. During his set, Aloe definitely paid homage to a few of his idols, including Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Stevie Wonder. With an overall positive message of love and cooperation, Mr. Blacc lifted the spirits of everyone present with his smooth voice and charismatic vibe. He rounded out his set with "I Need a Dollar," "Love Is the Answer" and "Ticking Bomb."
The party became sufficiently "lit" once Flo Rida hit the stage. The rapper from the Sunshine State was armed with a bottle of champagne and a few stacks of $1 bills that he eagerly showered over the fans (and photographers) in the front row. Quite a fun and interesting baptism, if you ask me! The "Good Feeling" was present from start to finish, with an energy level pushed all the way up by the sweaty, hyper crowd. You tend to forget how many hits are in his arsenal, with "Right Round," "In the Ayer" "Low," "Wild One" and his newest, "My House," forming the heart of his performance. Full disclosure: I myself love to relax at home in my Apple Bottom jeans and boots with the fur as I do my weekend chores. (Just kidding...I don't do chores!)
I would love to be on the planning committee for this type of music/fan festival. It's almost like the members ask themselves: "How can we top the feel and energy of someone like Flo Rida? I know, let's throw Pitbull onstage right afterwards!"
The clothing budget for the Miami rap/pop superstar must be in the millions. Every time Pitbull performs, his wardrobe gains about ten extra pounds from the sweat he emanates as he sings, jumps, dances and thrusts his body across the stage. Add in his mischievous smile and endless line of No. 1 hits, and a bevy of gorgeous back-up dancers, and you get a Mardi-Gras/Carnaval-type environment at each show. It was great to hear the recently released track "Bad Man," which features Robin Thicke, Joe Perry and Travis Barker. In the lyrics, Mr. Worldwide shoots back at his critics:
They say he don't rap no mo'
They say like Lebron, he ain't got the heat no mo'
They say he ain't street no mo'
But like Jay say 'How sick am I?', I wish 'em health fo' sho'!
But I'm cool with it!
All I know is that Pitbull has played the HLSR and Toyota Center twice each in the past few years, and I have been there for each performance; this man continues to amaze me with his lyrics, confidence and moves. He certainly strutted his stuff on Saturday night to an appreciative crowd. I walked the grounds of Discovery Green during his set, and I encountered nothing but happy people dancing, singing and enjoying life, all thanks to Mr. 305.
The highlight of the evening was the headlining show by Maroon 5 and their lead singer, Adam Levine. And wow, did they ever come correct! This wasn't a quick 45-minute set pieced together at the last minute. Adam and company displayed a well-orchestrated rundown of their hits mixed with classic rock and soul anthems that delighted the fans who stayed all the way until the end of the festival. The first song, "Animals," was broadcast live at the iHeart Music Festival, and Levine showed off his pipes and dance moves for all eyes and ears.
For a music lover like myself, it was fun to listen for and recognize the small homages and tributes that the band sprinkled into its set. From a few lines of Jay and Kanye's "Watch the Throne," Labi Siffre's 1975 track "I Got The..." (which prompted Levine to humorously fake-introduce Eminem, who wasn't present), and ending with Adam rocking out "Bohemian Rhapsody" on his neon-pink guitar, the night was all over the place musically. You hear Stevie Wonder in his voice, and see him perform his "Moves Like Jagger" with enough swagger to drown the entire Rolling Stones, and just really get down and get funky for his fans all night. As I scanned the crowd during "Sugar" and "She Will Be Loved," I could see young teenagers dancing, older couples singing and everyone in between mesmerized by Maroon's talent and heart.
If "Happy Ever After" did exist, I would still be listening to Maroon 5 all day, every day.
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One last thing...A trio of teens walked out after the set, visibly exhausted from a day full of standing and dancing at a music festival. One of the three stopped, hunched over and began to stretch his weary legs.
"Is this what old people feel like?" he said out loud to nobody in particular.
"Yes," I replied mentally. And we love every minute of it!
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.