Arts & Entertainment, Features

REVIEW: Forbes Under 30 music festival inspires conversation over beats

[mediagrid cat=”33555″]Boston City Hall Plaza was transformed into quite the unconventional venue on Sunday, bringing together over 1,000 entrepreneurs, CEOs and students for the 2016 Forbes Under 30 Music Festival.

The summit celebrates top professionals in fields such as consumer tech, finance and food and drink. The music artists in the festival represented the same type of diversity of the honorees, as acts such as Delta Rae and Jason Derulo shared the same lineup.

The North Carolina-based folk band Delta Rae started slow with “Out of the Badlands,” a song they’ve only played live and is not on either of their two albums. The true thrill of the performance was achieved by the breathtaking voice of band member Brittany Hölljes in “Bottom of the River,” one of the group’s well-known singles.

The song combined chains, steel cans and drumsticks, highlighting the band’s rough-around-the-edges harmonies that matched the summit’s theme of innovation and creativity.

Most notably, the six-person group was the only act of the night to bring current events to the stage.

“This song is about the 2016 presidential election,” said lead singer Eric Hölljes, Brittany’s brother. The crowd laughed. “It’s called ‘Scared.’” They also sang a song written about ending racial justice, “All Good People.”

An overarching theme throughout the concert seemed to be appealing directly to the diverse interest of millennials, with appearances of top entrepreneurs such as Jim Koch, the founder of Samuel Adams beer, who told the crowd to embrace personal revolutions, and be an “enabler” for risks.

A major risk taker during the concert was opener Gallant, whose vocal delivery was a mix of poetic and galactic. His characteristic falsetto in “Weight in Gold” shifted the mood, as the sun set to create a dim atmosphere, matching the purple haze and blue lights on the stage.

The stand-out in Gallant’s performance was most definitely his electric vocals. His fast-paced dance moves, however, became a point of conversation. Moving from crouching position to an empowered superman pose, the Maryland-born artist often sprawled his arms and body back and forth, whisking a black towel as his prop.

In fact, it seemed as if Gallant’s possessive, galactic moves united an otherwise starkly different crowd.

During the concert, a VIP section closed off the 30 Under 30 honorees from the rest of the concert. While at first the divide remained, many laughs were shared as VCs and students reacted to the interactive performance. As the night progressed, the fencing was less and less visible as people filled up the gaps. Glasses of Samuel Adams Millennium ale, a Boston Beer Company special, were shared.

Halsey brought a living-room set to the plaza, with a stripped-down acoustic performance of her classics such as “New Americana” and “Closer.” She referenced Boston as the first place “New Americana” truly had success.

“[It’s about] working hard, no matter how small you feel, not letting anyone hold you down,” said the 22-year-old singer, a glass of red wine in hand.

Finally, in the most eclectic performance of the night, was Jason Derulo, beginning his set in a diamond-studded leather jacket and four scantily-dressed back-up dancers by his side.

His well-known dance moves added a new dimension to the otherwise subdued concert, and undoubtedly brought the highest amount of energy to the venue. The bopping heads soon turned into flippant jumps.

His flashiest pieces included the opener, “Trumpets,” as well as “Wiggle” and “Ridin’ Solo,” all of which featured smoke bursts and lunging dancers.

Derulo, who was on the 30 Under 30 Class of 2016 list under the music category, put out an album in May of 2015, titled “Everything Is 4.” He referenced the album in between performances with an engaging video that featured a montage of his interviews, concerts and time in the spotlight.

As Derulo ended the night, his pulsating and seductive performance garnered twirls atop networking picnic tables and claps from advertisers in the back.

And as the stage dimmed, all of a sudden the mohawks and Hermes belts were barely recognizable. Instead, there seemed to be a new defining characteristic of the venue. There was a different kind of networking that happened on Sunday — one over music, and one no elevator pitch could describe.

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