As the parking lot began to fill, and the DJs helped channel a buzz throughout the crowd, we were more than ready for the Festival Stage to get going. The first act had to be a New Yorker, and we got a relatively uncontroversial choice: Charles Hamilton, who was added to the lineup right before the show.
He kicked things off with his 2008 hit "Brooklyn Girls" (not this, thank God), which no one really seemed to remember. But, Charles is experiencing something of career revival in 2015, and his happiness to be opening up one of NY's biggest concerts was enough to earn the crowd's respect. He went on to perform his latest single "New York Raining," which features Rita Ora. Though the British pop sensation didn't show up, Charles let us know the song is currently #2 in the U.K. I guess the English are more interested in his ode to the Big Apple than actual New Yorkers, but any success is well-deserved for the talented Harlem emcee.
After Charles Hamilton, a surprise guest from down south stormed the stage much to the crowd's delight. Houston's Chedda Da Connect gave a rambunctious performance of his viral hit "Flicka Da Wrist," and though, obviously, he only stayed for one song, wrists were floppin' everywhere and the crowd was ready to turn up.
Next came the lone R&B act to grace the festival stage, GOOD Music's Teyana Taylor. She began by singing the opening vocals vocals to her boss's "Dark Fantasy," still her biggest feature, before doing something special for the hometown crowd. She began a cover of Mary J. Blige's "Love Without a Limit," and was soon joined by two of the three members of Total, the '90s Bad Boy female R&B group who hail from Jersey. Total gave a tribute to Biggie before performing their B.I.G.-assisted hit "Can't You See."
Next came Atlanta's B.o.B., who, out of everyone billed on the Festival Stage, may have the most hits to his name. And he gave us 'em all, those he either led or was featured on: "Nothin' On You," "Strange Clouds," Ty Dolla's "Paranoid," T-Pain's "Up Down," and Young Dro's "Fuck That Bitch." His status in the pop world is no mistake; the man knows how to rock a stage.