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B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash

by Assessor
B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash

I was super excited to get tickets to Jingle Bash this year because, well of course, Taylor Swift was headlining. Swift has never done a radio concert performance like this in Chicago – and she’s only doing three other ones across the country during this holiday season, so I knew that I had to jump at the chance.

I didn’t quite realize how excited I was for this lineup until I actually got to Allstate Arena last night. I had only been to a radio concert once before, it was 103.5 Kiss FM’s Jingle Ball in 2014. Here’s the lineup.

I have to say that I definitely liked B96’s format and lineup better: I prefer less artists who have longer sets. The concert I went to in 2014 featured twice as many performers and most of them only sang 2-3 songs. B96’s was different.

2017 breakout artist Khalid opened the show at 7:05PM to an arena slowly filling up. I was happy to see that he had decided to open his set with the song “American Teen,” which is one of my favorites by him. I have been following Khalid’s career since January, when he was just starting out and was performing at venues with less than 100 person capacities. Khalid had so much energy that it felt contagious, dancing around the stage wearing a personalized Chicago Cubs jersey with backup dancers dressed as cheerleaders. The crowd seemed a tad unfamiliar with his catalog until he got to songs like “Location,” and “Silence” – a tune he collaborated on with the DJ Marshmello, who ended up appearing to perform with him on the song.

Photo Credit: Floyd McCraney via B96

Khalid closed his six-song set (which was longer than some of the other artists on the bill) with his current single, “Young Dumb, and Broke,” which got the crowd singing along. It’s safe to say that he’s still young, but he’s definitely not dumb, nor will he ever be broke again.

Khalid recently announced a tour that starts early next year with no Chicago date. All signs point towards a slot at Lollapalooza 2018.

The next performer was Sabrina Carpenter – I was really shocked and confused as to why she was ahead of Khalid on the lineup, but my guess is that more people would be familiar with Khalid and perhaps would want to get to the show earlier? Anyway, I did not see her perform, I left my seat to get a beer, go to the bathroom, etc. I am familiar with her one song, “Why,” which is actually doing fairly well on Spotify. All I know about her is that she’s 18-years-old and that she’s on the television show “Girl Meets World” She also has a lot of Instagram followers (13.5 million – which is more than Khalid, Logic, Fifth Harmony, and Backstreet Boys – interesting).

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Photo Credit: Floyd McCraney via B96

Following Sabrina Carpenter was Fifth Harmony – the girl group that has gone through a lot drama this year following Camila Cabello’s departure from the group just about a year ago. Fifth Harmony released their third full length album in August this year. The performance begun with the group’s hit “Worth It,” – appearing onstage with matching holiday inspired attire and high-level choreographed dance moves.

The energy was definitely there from the start, but it was lost for me after the girls continued with four songs (yes) in a row that I was not familiar with. I guess I can’t complain too much because I haven’t heard their new album. In all fairness, the ladies of 5H seem happy and confident performing as a (fairly) new quartet, but it just felt like something was missing for me.

While some of the other artists made a point to perform their most popular songs, Fifth Harmony failed to sing a couple of their own – missing was a very obvious “Bo$$.” I remember watching the creation of Fifth Harmony on The X-Factor in 2012, and I have followed their careers pretty steadily up until this year. I hate to say it, but I think they were better with Cabello.

Photo Credit: Floyd McCraney via B96

Logic (real name Robert Hall) has had an impressive year. I first came across his music when my college had him as the performer at their spring concert this past year (I had a sinus infection and attended to see opener Jesse McCartney and left about three songs into Logic’s set because it was pouring rain). As I’ve said before, I don’t really listen to rap music but something about Logic’s music is really different and inspiring to me. Logic’s music is extremely positive and uplifting, and you can see this evident in his smash hit song “1-800-273-8255,” which is the phone number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. After the release of the song in April, the hotline reported receiving “the second highest daily call volume in its history” and Google searches of the phone number increased over 100%. His stage presence was infectious and it was really inspiring to see him sharing these powerful messages through his music. I was super impressed!

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Photo Credit: Floyd McCraney via B96

Let me start off by saying that I had no idea how much I would enjoy Backstreet Boys’ performance. The BSB were most relevant when I was maybe 4-years-old, AKA I wasn’t at the right age to appreciate them compared to my sister (who I was with at the concert) who is 27. I was going through their catalog on Spotify yesterday to prepare for the show and realized how badly I wanted them to hear “Larger Than Life” and they opened with it. It was amazing. I was seriously impressed with their dance moves, vocal ability and overall stage presence.

I had never seen them before even though I was a fan when I was a lot younger (casually, because again, I was pretty young during their prime), so I guess I underestimated their performance abilities. Not sure why I did, because they’ve been touring for over 20 years. It was such a fun performance and they ended up singing the most out of anyone there. They ended their set with a encore performance of “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” which was the absolute perfect way to close.

Photo Credit: Floyd McCraney via B96

The moment was finally here! Taylor Swift was coming. Her performance began around 10:20PM – which is honestly the time I’m usually in bed ready to sleep. I maintained my composure (as much as I could) when I saw Taylor’s mom, Andrea, appear at the mix booth on the floor – and it finally hit me that I was about to see Taylor for the first time since I met her in 2015! I hadn’t seen Taylor perform at Allstate Arena since 2011 during her Speak Now tour, so this was a really cool moment for me and the rest of the fans who have been following her for this long. She opened her set with a fiery performance of “…Ready For It?” wearing a sparkly top, black shorts and combat boots.

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It was interesting to see her incorporate more dance moves in her performance and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet, but she seems to be having a lot of fun, so I approve. She continued with a performance of “Blank Space,” then went acoustic for “I Don’t Want to Live Forever,” the Grammy-nominated song she co-wrote with Jack Antonoff for “50 Shades of Grey.” I assume she’s been performing this song as a way to campaign for the win. I would have preferred her singing “Call It What You Want” but I’m seeing her twice next year, so I really can’t complain that much.

The only thing that was TRULY disappointed about was that 1) She decided to debut the live performance of “Gorgeous” at this show instead of performing “End Game” again, a song that’s presumably the next single off of Reputation and a song she’s been performing with Ed Sheeran at the other radio shows. Obviously Ed wasn’t on the lineup so it wouldn’t have really been perform-able, but I would have liked to hear LITERALLY ANYTHING off of Reputation over this song. I just hate this song and I have no problem admitting it.

I also wish that 2) she sang more than six songs! For her to be the headliner and not singing more songs than other artists (Khalid sang six, Fifth Harmony sang eight, Backstreet Boys performed for 50 minutes – I can’t remember how many they sang), I was hoping she’d throw in a couple extra. But she is the headliner and can do whatever she wants, so I guess I understand.

I really loved hearing “Look What You Made Me Do” live and thought it was such a fun performance. Overall, I had a great time at this event and was really impressed with the majority of the artists I got to see perform! I think the lineup was really solid and would definitely consider returning to this event next year.

This was also the last concert I will be attending in 2017, so I think it was a great way to finish out the year!

I have one more post coming about every set I saw this year and the 10 best performances. Be on the look out!

– Kristin

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