Alessia Cara with Lorde, Liam Payne, The Strumbellas at iHeartRadio Beach Ball, Day 1

Photographs by Moe Yang.

In some of the hottest weather that Vancouver has seen this summer, iHeartRadio and Virgin Radio held the first annual Beach Ball at the PNE Amphitheatre that featured some of the hottest acts in music at the moment. As the PNE typically hosts free concerts, this particular event brought a fresh new energy to the exhibition.

As I made my way into the venue, two representatives from Virgin Radio came to the stage to introduce the act and hype up the crowd, which was still trickling into the amphitheatre. The first performance I caught was Virginia to Vegas, who came out with their brand of sensual pop and carefree summer vibes. He had way with the screaming girls in the crowd playing songs like “F*** Me Up”, “Light’s Out”, and “Selfish”, even making a trip down to the audience to serenade the front row. He made sure to snag a picture with the audience before he exited the stage and two different Virgin Radio Reps came out to catapult t-shirts into the crowd.

The entire day was fueled by crowd energy and interaction, and they came prepared complete with signs and gifts for the performers. Shawn Hook’s drummer interrupted his set with a present for Shawn and a chorus of Happy Birthday. The Nelson, BC native told the story of when he first moved to Vancouver and held his first job at the PNE and won the talent show that was put on in 2006. This was the set that the beach balls the festival was named after made a first appearance in the crowd.

Slotted in the middle of the day was the late addition to lineup, Lorde. The pop powerhouse strutted out onto the stage to “Perfect Places”, the closing track to her latest album, “Melodrama”. With her catalogue expanding this year, she debuted her new music to Vancouver playing “Sober”, “Supercut”, and “Homemade Dynamite”. Her body moved as if she were commanded by the drums, owning the stage and milking the crowds cheers. The rollercoaster that hung over the amphitheatre prompted her to explain how she felt “intrigued and frightened” as it gave the passengers a glimpse of the legendary performer. She dipped into her debut album with songs like “Team” and “Royals”. Starting out her set with a more ominous feeling, she gradually took the energy up throughout and closing the set with her hit off of “Melodrama”, “Green Light”.

The crowd cleared out a little bit to go enjoy the exhibition as Scot Helman took the stage followed by The Strumbellas. This gave a more indie rock feel to the mostly pop lineup, but the people who stuck around showed the love they deserve. Scot’s fans brought him Bueno Bars (apparently his favourite) and The Strumbellas got the crowd to participate in a sing along to “Spirits”. Scot’s set was chalked full of upbeat guitar riffs and happy sing alongs closing with “Bungalow”, his number one song off his debut album, and playing his most recent release, “Kinda Complicated”, which has been on Virgin Radio airwaves since its release.

As the day turned to night, fan favourite Liam Payne took the stage complete with backup dancers and screams for attention. His presence on the stage brought out a sea of cameras recording his every move. With only two songs under his belt since his departure from One Direction, his set was short but sweet, and it only left the audience wanting more.

The closing act was Alessia Cara and she explained how it was very special as this was her first time closing out a festival. A couple of young girls behind me praised her entrance to the stage with a series of shrieks and belting out the words to every song. Alessia showed off her pipes that rung out through the entire park performing her song “How Far I’ll Go” from the Moana soundtrack. Her set was chalked full of sweet melodies and empowering vocals including the song “Wild Things” where she banged on the drum to the point where the drumstick flew right out of her hand. A great set to end the night with that left the audience ready for the next day.

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