A lengthy line snaked around Pier 36, a multipurpose event space on Manhattan’s lower east side. The younger-skewing crowd was eagerly, and patiently (fans were in line upwards of six hours), waiting for the night’s event to begin: the fifth installment of Pandora Sounds Like You, which welcomed performances from dance trio Cheat Codes, Ty Dolla $ign, SZA and Post Malone.
Once fortunate fans made it in the building for the first-come-first-serve free show on Tuesday (Dec. 5), they were greeted by a winter wonderland setup complete with a life-size snowglobe, hot chocolate cart and dancers clad in all white who left a trail of silver glitter wherever they went.
Throughout the four-and-a-half hour-long showcase, Cheat Codes served as both host and intermittent DJs, performing on a side stage so that the main stage could quickly be changed over for the three main acts — the first of which was Ty Dolla $ign. The rapper’s set included snowflake canons (keeping with the night’s theme) that went off as he opened with “Paranoid,” the first single off his 2013 debut EP Beach House. He later performed his feature spots on hits such as “It’s A Vibe” and Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home.”
While both acts to follow, SZA and Post Malone, were running behind schedule, they made sure to pack as much in during their time on stage. SZA led with CTRL opening track “Supermodel” and “Broken Clocks” before addressing the packed space: “Y’all have really changed my life,” she said, assuring that she wouldn’t have earned five Grammy nominations this year (the most of any female artist) without her fans.
She continued with more CTRL favorites, from the provocative Kendrick Lamar-assisted “Doves In The Wind” to the harmonious Travis Scott-featuring “Love Galore” — during which butterflies fluttered on the screen behind her, reminiscent of the song’s music video. And when the breakout R&B star said, “They’re about to cut me off, but I just have one question to ask. What day is it?” everyone knew what was coming. SZA closed her set with “The Weekend,” causing a vibey dance party — despite the fact that it was only Tuesday.
As soon as SZA stepped off stage, the crowd thinned a bit allowing Post Malone fans to slither closer to the front. After a near 45-minute delay due to technical difficulties, the Hot 100 chart topper was finally ready to go. “New York City, I’m sorry it took so fucking long,” the hip-hop artist, who introduced himself by his real name of Austin Richard Post, said, “we’re about to get so goddamn weird though.”
He made sure to include all his hits, from “I Fall Apart” and “White Iverson” to his current No. 1 “Rockstar,” which is atop the Hot 100 for the eighth consecutive week — something Post jokingly apologized for, as he insisted he had no idea it would be so big. Elsewhere, he paid respects to peers like A$AP Yams and Lil Peep, saying “I don’t want to die too fucking young,” before delivering the aptly titled “Too Young.”
“People told me I’d never be shit,” Malone declared, making clear he’s proved them wrong as his 2016 debut album Stoney continues to grow a year later, before bringing the night to a celebratory close with his hit “Congratulations” — a fitting summarization of the breakout year Cheat Codes, Ty, SZA and Malone have all had.