Despite the challenges, West Coast reps dominated the lineup as Top Dawg Entertainment rolled deep for the final hurrah. All signed acts -- with the exception of SZA and SiR, who made a special appearance — were given stage time, as Kendrick Lamar held down the headlining slot. With an extra hour granted thanks to daylight savings time, Sunday was barely a day of rest for festival-goers. Run back the most memorable moments from Day 3 with us below.
The Ladies Talk Their S--t
After going viral with her take on the “In My Feelings” dance challenge on social media, and building momentum with her infectious jams, singer DaniLeigh talked that talk for her 1:15pm set at the Roll The Dice stage. Rolling through a mix of previously released music and forthcoming jams, she bashed no-good exes on numbers like “No Caller ID.” The Yella Beezy-featuring “Diamonds on Me” was a true flex anthem, while another song called out f--kboys with the refrain: “All them blocked numbers on your phone, that’s that bullshit.” Dani even asked the self-aware F-boys in the audience to raise their hands, to which some actually obliged.
Too hype to be called a traditional R&B set, her performance was doused in swag as she danced through the heat despite wearing a long-sleeve shirt, sweater and baggy pants in nearly 80-degree weather. For the cool-off, she brought the feels with her rendition of “Easy,” which had a fan crying (“That’s love,” DaniLeigh gushed), before she boosted the turn-up levels a notch for the early bird crowd with “Lil Bebe.”
Over on the Jackpot stage, Doja Cat used her super powers as hip-hop’s risque Powerpuff Girl. Clad in a baby blue leather jacket with furry accents, a black midriff top and black leather hip-huggers with a diamond chain belt, Doja Cat’s natural beauty, relatable charm and unapologetic freakiness translated well under the sun.
With her hot pink pixie cut and hot pink mic, the California rep ran through a soundtrack worthy of Bad Bitch Syndrome: “Roll With Us,” “Bottom Bitch,” “Rules” (which included the pro tip “play with my p---y But don't play with my emotions”), “So High” and “Tia Tamera.” An instant twerk fest ensued for her succulent smash “Juicy,” as early supporters stuck around for the viral closer “MOOO!”
Later in the evening, Hot Girls and Hot Boys reported for duty at the Roll The Dice stage -- which followed a random 10-minute set from rap great Too $hort -- for Megan Thee Stallion’s show. Opening with “Realer,” Tina Snow rocked a plaid two-piece uniform, flaunting just enough cheek to clap throughout her set. “If you know that p---y good, if you know that p---y clean, make some noise,” she called out. Hip-hop’s Black Jessica Rabbit then hosted a three-part clapper contest to the sounds of “Simon Says,” switching out hotties to throw their thang back.
By the third round, restless fans demanded to get back to regular programming. “We got other stages to go, at least change the song,” an attendee said. Thee Stallion then unleashed a barrage of fire tracks from “Hot Girl Summer” to “Sex Talk” to “Big Ole Freak,” ultimately ending on a rich note with “Cash Shit.” Whether she’s calling the shots in the bedroom or handling her business on-stage or in the classroom, her performance was proof positive that whatever Megan wants, she gets.
Top Dawg Over Everything
On the small but mighty Hunnids stage, Top Dawg Entertainment showed out. Singer Zacari repped for the lone wolves on stage, even prompting his fans to howl with him. With his four-piece band known as The Throwaways, the Bakersfield rep delivered velvety vocals for numbers like “Midas Touch,” “Don’t Trip” and the Black Panther soundtrack entry “Redemption.” He also grabbed his guitar for the Lil Yachty collaboration “Young & Invincible.”
Before launching into “You Can Do Anything,” Zacari delivered a message of resilience apt for the Vegas crowd. “You can do anything. Go to the roulette table and put a grand on black and win,” he joked. A cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and a few howls later, Zacari wrapped his beautifully moody set with “Ten Outta Ten,” and the Kendrick Lamar collab “LOVE.”
Reason was up next from the Top Dawg roster to hold it down for his set. The TDE rookie powered through sound malfunctions and brought some friends for fire moments. After the previously mentioned Boogie, Reason brought out Dreamville’s Cozz for a live rendition of the Revenge of the Dreamers III bar-fest “LamboTruck.” To wrap, he rolled through “Summer Up.”
On the Roll The Dice stage, Ab-Soul made a rare appearance. It’s been three years since the 2016 album Do What Thou Wilt, but the Black Lipped Pastor was still on his job, serving up the gospel while talking fans on a mind trip. Showing love to the ladies and b--ches (used affectionately), Soulo performed “Bohemian Grove,” “Terrorist Threats,” “D.R.U.G.S.,” “The Law "(which features late great Mac Miller), and the Black Panther soundtrack cut “Bloody Waters.”
As for news of new material, Ab-Soul said, “I been cookin’ the bird up slow” before kicking a lethal freestyle, which included the bars: “You know what this is, the Ab-Soulution/ In conclusion, I got the answer / There’s no room for confusion, we in a different space/ The curly-haired Confucius in Gucci shades/ Visionary with the scarred cornea/ But I’m the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia.” He ended the set with: “New album 2020. We takin’ everything.”
It was a TDE happy hour over at the Jackpot stage when Jay Rock and ScHoolBoy Q rocked the mic consecutively. Both acts set the stage ablaze with their respective hits. Eastside Johnny plugged in cuts spanning 2011, from his Follow Me Home debut to 2015’s 90059 to his latest, 2018's Redemption. Honing in on his championship mentality, Rock closed with the fail-proof anthem “Win.” ScHoolboy then spewed his “crash talk” with performances of “Gang Gang,” “THat Part,” and “Collard Greens,” to name a few.
He also added in a bit of his trademark humor by clowning on the crowd after a lukewarm response: “Y’all too old to be at the festival. Y’all 40.” (In the audience’s defense, this writer can speak from experience that no matter your age, a three-day musical extravaganza will leave any human physically drained, especially by Day 3.)
After taking some time away from the spotlight following the release of the Black Panther soundtrack, Kendrick Lamar flowed in his greatness on the Jackpot stage. Kicking things off with a fiery rendition of “DNA.”, the Compton spitter appeared with a cowboy hat, shades and floppy black ensemble before repurposing a similar set list as seen and heard during his past tour and festival performances since the debut of DAMN. at 2017’s Coachella festival.
“My job is to make sure y’all turnt to the motherf--kin’ max,” said Kung Fu Kenny before running through an unrelenting canon of hits and guest verses, including “King Kunta,” “Big Shot,” “Goosebumps,” “Swimming Pools (Drank”), “Backseat Freestyle,” “Loyalty,” “Money Trees” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” TDE singer SiR also popped up for a special rendition of “Hair Down." While it was a let-down that K.Dot dropped zero hints about a new project or opted out of teasing new material, there’s no doubt that if Kendrick’s gonna give us the funk, we gon’ take it.
Other highlights worth noting included Brockhampton’s colorful and vibrant set, specifically the closing performance of “Boogie,” where Kevin Abstract proclaimed, “You are now watching the greatest boy band in the world.” Dressed in a blonde bowl cut wig and blue suit, Tyler, the Creator met his doppleganger and invited the fan named Rob to the stage for a twinning photo after he wrapped his set. Like Q, Tyler let the jokes fly: “This show is way better than I expected. We in the valley. I didnt know what the f--k was gon’ happen.”
Room For Improvement
If there’s any crucial feedback to be given for the first-time festival, it would be to anticipate the worst. While the blockbuster lineup should have been a surefire way to sell out tickets, hosting a three-day festival during Vegas’ chilliest time of the year feels out of place, especially for a newcomer, with the oversaturated summer festival rotation. And if a fall or winter festival is the only way to penetrate the music festival game, opt for branded gloves, thermals and jackets as a giveaway or at the merch booth, and set up heat lamps throughout the festival grounds. A cold crowd is a turnt-down crowd.
The efforts to ensure that attendees were aware of the nearest emergency exits were commendable, though. A message before Brockhampton’s set advised that simulated gun shot sounds may be used in artists’ performances, perhaps to alleviate concerns following the 2017 tragedy where a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest music festival. Signs and video messages also prompted attendees to locate their nearest 911 exits.
Some talent also felt mismatched to their set times and stages. YBN Cordae was probably one of the non-headliners to attract a massive crowd that bled into food truck lines, creating anxiety-induced crowding at the tiny Hunnid stage. Young Thug was relegated to the post-Kendrick Lamar time slot at the Roll The Dice stage on Sunday that even the fireworks display preceded his performance. Talent with bigger buzz were either put on smaller stages or earlier time slots as rising acts were given sets that nearly overlapped with first- and second-tier performances.
Of course, it’s unrealistic for a first-time festival to become an overnight Coachella -- but should there be a sequel to Day N Vegas, let’s hope the differences are like night and day between this one and the next.