In between the two nights of the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the music extravaganza moved outside for the iHeartRadio Music Festival Village, in which a collection of pop’s rising stars shared a stage in the sweltering Las Vegas heat. Although temperatures surpassed 95 degrees on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 20), the heat-depleted crowd outside of the MGM Grand lapped up sets from Iggy Azalea, 5 Seconds of Summer, Magic! and many more (while occasionally starting a “water! water!” chant).
Iggy Azalea, the queen of the summer and biggest breakout star of the year, previewed her iHeartRadio set on Saturday night with a truncated performance in the afternoon as the Village headliner. Although the Australian rapper was bestowed with a quiet crowd that had endured hours in the hot sun, Azalea did her best to prod the audience awake in less than 20 minutes. She snarled during “Work,” conjured handclaps for “Black Widow” and joined in some choreography for “Bounce” before asking “Where the bass at?!” and being given the “Fancy” beat in response. With barely any time to develop a rapport with her onlookers, Azalea did her best to entertain the worn-out audience.
A few hours earlier, 5 Seconds of Summer (who are not performing on Saturday night) provoked girlish screams far and wide with an incredibly tight set overflowing with charisma. The Australian quartet covered the Romantics’ “What I Like About You,” riled up the young audience with “18” and “Kiss Me Kiss Me,” joked about their hair colors and appeared appropriately melancholy during the weepy ballad “Amnesia.” Two girls held up a “WE LOVE 5SOS” sign, another tween started literally hyperventilating when the set started (she fortunately seemed okay soon after), and even the dads in the audience appreciatively applauded for the rock whippersnappers.
With so many performers that had recently broken out of relative obscurity with smash singles, the iHeartRadio Village felt like a Top 40 playlist put on shuffle. Nico & Vinz ended a jaunty, harmonica-laden set with “Am I Wrong”; Meghan Trainor performed “All About That Bass” after covering the song that it replaced atop the Hot 100, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”; Magic! continued their victory lap with “Rude”; and Fences got an assist on “Arrows” from surprise guest Macklemore. Whereas the nighttime iHeartRadio Fest showcases some of the most well-established artists in the genre, the Village — now in its second year — offers an opportunity for the Hot New Things to prove what else they have in their repertoires.
As for the more senior artists, Kacey Musgraves shined with an understated smattering of her album Same Trailer Different Park, while Childish Gambino juiced up the audience before abruptly leaving 10 minutes in. Lil Jon was charmingly unhinged while shouting pro-drinking slogans and leading his onlookers in a full-on freak-out to “Turn Down For What.” The most surprisingly effective performance of the afternoon belonged to Neon Trees, whose frontman Tyler Glenn crowd-surfed during “Sleeping with a Friend” and then apologized for being a 30-year-old man throwing his body upon a pile of teenagers. “I did not intend to be felt up that much by you,” Glenn admitted with a sheepish grin on his face.