Forbes Under 30 Music Festival: A$AP Rocky disappointing, Hanson triumphant

By | October 7, 2015


(Photo at the source)

It’s quite possible that A$AP Rocky and Shawn Mendes have never shared a bill before. That is, until Forbes tried to hone in on millennial tastes and booked the pop singer and the rapper, along with grown-up brother band Hanson and electric violinist Lindsey Stirling for the Under 30 Summit closing concert Tuesday night at Festival Pier.

In between writing impromptu songs about Dior jackets backstage, Mendes and Rocky bookended an evening of eclectic performances, aimed at running the gamut of twentysomethings’ tastes, though plagued by talent cancellations.

The show’s original lineup consisted of Avicii, Hanson and Stirling and was then amended with Mendes and Fetty Wap replacing Avicii. Following Fetty Wap’s motorcycle accident, it was announced A$AP Rocky would take the final slot on the lineup.

The free concert was open not only to Summit attendees but also to the public, though the crowd was largely comprised of nametag-wearing young influencers from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, still in their heels and blazers. The second-annual summit took place on Monday, Oct. 5 and Tuesday, Oct. 6.

That’s not to say that acoustic-guitar-toting Mendes wasn’t greeted by a high-pitched welcome from the crowd. The Vine-turned-Billboard-chart-topping star sailed charmingly through a stripped-down set including single “Stitches” and a cover of Plain White T’s “Hey There, Delilah.”

Though early in the evening, the true stars of the night were Hanson, who put the younger performers to shame. Sliding seamlessly through their nearly two-decade repertoire, Hanson hit on funky grooves, tight harmonies, and fan-favorites like “MMMBop” and “Penny and Me.” Paired with triumphant covers of “I Want to Take You Higher” and “Dancing in the Street,” Hanson excelled despite being sandwiched in the middle of an awkward progression of artists.

Having the tough task of following Hanson, Lindsey Stirling made her way across the stage, shimmying and high kicking through intricate violin runs augmented by live percussion. On paper, a dancing violinist comes off as a gag performance as opposed to a touring act. As a result, Stirling’s quirkiness became an Instagram-worthy moment for concertgoers. Talented? Extremely. Spellbinding? Definitely. Appropriate for the occasion? Maybe not.

Less of a booming finale and more of a disappointing showboating scheme, A$AP Rocky finally took to the stage after a 35-minute delay tactic consisting of two DJ/hype men attempting to rouse an already anticipatory crowd. With a noise ordinance going into effect at 11 p.m., Rocky had a measly 25 minutes to deliver on what many came to the show specifically to see. An ignited audience danced along to “M’s” and A$AP Ferg’s “Shabba,” though the rapper’s entitlement — Rocky frequently is 20-plus minutes late to shows — outweighed any act of showmanship.

The concert was the finale to an off-base festival that, on the surface, served as a glorified, high-priced networking opportunity. While discussions from Tinder co-founder and CEO Sean Rad served utility in terms of inspiring strong leadership skills, some talks faltered under lack of focus — like Michelle Phan’s offhanded comment that depression is bred from boredom.

The largest oversight was the lack of Philadelphia influence — both on-stage at the concert and during summit sessions. The festival’s major talks drew no inspiration from the city in which it was held, from the chefs highlighted at the opening food festival to the panel called “How to be a boss when you haven’t had a boss.”

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