Event: iHeartRadio + Power 96.1 Atlanta’s Jingle Ball 2021
Acts: Big Time Rush, Black Eyed Peas, Tate McRae, Bazzi, Tai Verdes, MONSTA X, Dixie D’Amelio
City: Atlanta, Georgia
Venue: State Farm Arena
Date: Thursday, December 16, 2021
With artist cancellations looming over the night, iHeartRadio successfully pulled off an incredible night of music. There was an odd feeling in the air with so many artists and members of their teams testing positive for COVID-19. It started to feel like early 2020 again, and that wasn’t something anybody wanted to re-live. Thankfully, though, those jitters went away as soon as everyone got seated and the performances started.
A few days ago, Doja Cat shared that she tested positive for COVID-19 and would unfortunately have to pull out of her remaining Jingle Ball tour dates, including Atlanta. The morning of the show date, the Jonas Brothers announced that a member of their production crew had tested positive for COVID-19, so they would be taking safety precautions and wouldn’t play the show. Then, right before showtime, Megan Thee Stallion posted on her IG story that a few members of her team had been exposed to COVID-19, and she wasn’t feeling well, so she would be taking precautions by not performing. (We also didn’t know this evening would be the final night of the Jingle Ball Tour as the following Miami date would be cancelled out of precautions to avoid spreading of COVID.)
Those are your three headliners knocked out of the show. It wasn’t looking all bright at first, but the show that followed was high energy from start to finish.
As I was getting to my seat, Tai Verdes was tearing up the stage and kicking off the night. He has had a breakout year in 2021, and his happy-go-lucky vibe is so infectious. I loved seeing his song “A-O-K” rise in popularity because we need more songs that just exude positivity like his music does! His set was just enough of a taste to have me craving a full Tai Verdes concert next.
MONSTA X fans traveled from near and far to see their favorite group perform, and it was really something to witness the hold that K-pop has grown to have over western culture. Some people only think of BTS when it comes to Korean crossover music, but there are several groups like MONSTA X and BLACKPINK that have seen massive success in the last couple of years.
Dixie D’Amelio’s fanbase grew exponentially on TikTok over the course of the pandemic, so I was interested to see how the crowd would respond to her music. The arena erupted when she came out, and they were singing along to every word of the songs, especially “Be Happy.” She looked like she was having the time of her life and looked so proud of her performance. Despite not having as big a catalog as the rest of the lineup, this gave her the chance to play some of her newer music like recent song, “The Real Thing.”
Bazzi has always been extremely underrated to me, and I think the approach he takes to his music deserves more recognition. He tackles really important messages in his music, and he isn’t afraid to confront big-ticket topics head-on even aside from his music. It was really “Beautiful” looking around the arena to find a sea of lit-up iPhones being held up to the song. The arena proceeded to scream-song along to his hit song “Mine” just as loud as he was.
Big Time Rush were a late but more than welcome addition to the Power 96.1 Atlanta Jingle Ball concert (they were announced just 24 hours before the show), and it really felt like everybody in the audience showed up just for them. I don’t know many times that I have felt an entire concert venue shake as an artist stepped onstage like I did when BTR walked out. Feeding right into our nostalgia-hungry hearts, the set started with the sounds of their iconic “Oh Oh Oh Oh Ohhhhh” (if you know, you know). Bringing back the boyband moves better than before, James, Kendall, Logan, and Carlos were giving it their all in Atlanta.
Black Eyed Peas have always been one of the most futuristic, coolest performers out there, and it felt like I was reliving their Super Bowl Halftime Show performance. With absolutely iconic songs like “I Gotta Feeling,” “Boom Boom Pow,” “Scream and Shout,” “The Time (Dirty Bit),” and “Pump It,” its amazing to think that their set could have gone even further with the hits. They weren’t even close to running out of instantly recognizable songs, but there had to be a cutoff. Songs like their recent hit, “RITMO,” gave Black Eyed Peas’ new female vocalist J. Rey Soul the chance to show off her vocal chops. It was such a high-energy set that it felt like nobody was able to sit still or contain themselves for it.
Tate McRae was the closer for the night, and she might be young, but she’s packing some power in her punch. Her voice can do so many different things, and it’s really fun to hear the way she uses her voice to bounce back and forth between songs like “you broke me first” compared to “feel like shit.” This is kind of cliche to say at this point, but there is a quality to her music that reminds me of early Billie Eilish songs in their introspective but intricately-produced nature. I will say that I was surprised how much her music lent itself to choreography, so I was surprised to see McRae and her backup dancers jumping around the stage in perfect sync to the set. Fans made sure to stick around and see her through to the very end, and it’s a good thing they did.
In between these sets, those sitting around me would get up for some more overpriced chicken tenders and to get another drink. I, however, sat there in awe staring at the spinning stage that would rotate completely 180° to trade off to the next artist’s stage design and band equipment. I’ve seen it happen on iHeartRadio’s livestreams of other events in the past, but I thought it was a showbiz thing that only happened in LA or NY. Nope, folks. It happened in Atlanta, and I saw it with my own two eyes.
iHeartRadio has proven time and time again just how good they are at bringing artists together for massive events like this one. With their iHeartRadio Music Festival, iHeartCountry Festival, iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour, and other live shows, they bring out-of-this-world lineups together for a night jam-packed with great music. And unlike other festivals, you actually get to see everyone on the lineup because they’re all performing on the same stage. You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to squeeze two sets in with less than half an hour between them. They spin that stage around, and it’s time to bring out another artist!