Set against the peaceful waves of the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica Pier bustled heavily with tourists and locals alike on Saturday evening. As the sun began to set, a crowd patiently waited for Magic!, Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea in Pandora’s “Pandora Summer Crush,” in front of the iconic yellow Ferris wheel.
Canadian reggae band Magic! entered the stage full of charisma and smiles as they quenched the crowd’s thirst for live music with its song “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool.” The group’s music complimented the joyous atmosphere of the pier and contrasted against the gloomy sky. Despite emerging two years ago in 2012, the band looked at home on stage, engaging with the audience and playing songs from their album “Don’t Kill the Magic.”
“The beach is right there, isn’t that beautiful?” said lead singer Nasri to the cheering crowd.
Magic! rounded off with “Rude,” its hit single that has commanded the radio airwaves this summer. The Pandora crowd sang along, basking in the ripples of positive energy released.
Rita Ora’s performance was almost as electrifying as her light blue hair. But the British singer and actress’s energy did not make for a fulfilling performance.
Accompanied on stage with an acoustic guitarist and cajon box percussionist, Ora sang “Shine Ya Light” passionately, encouraging the crowd to “use (their) light.” The onstage screen depicted a tunnel with a circle of light at its end, adding a nice touch to her performance.
Ora’s show peaked at “How We Do (Party)” as she rallied the audience to party with her. Colorful lights of the stage, that almost mimicked the prisms shone by the Ferris wheel, dawned on Ora under the hazy sky. Her vocals occasionally drowned in the instrumentation of her songs, particularly in “R.I.P.” Unfortunately, the star whipped her hair back and forth, danced and sang with no artistic individuality.
Although Rita Ora presented a good amount of excitement, her set was forgettable. On stage, Ora looked like a star desperately trying to shine her light.
Bass reverberated across the wooden floorboards of the pier at the moment that chants of “Iggy! Iggy! Iggy!” echoed. The onlookers needn’t ask “Who dat? Who dat?” as Iggy Azalea set foot on stage, radiating with intense confidence and swagger.
Fierce in curve-hugging pink pants and crop top, “I-g-g-y” rapped breathlessly to the beats of DJ Wizz Kidd and lively movements of her equally fierce back-up dancers.
The Australian star’s aggressive presence softened, however, as the stage lights dimmed for her song “Work.”
“Three jobs, took years to save/ But I got a ticket on that plane/ … No money, no family,” Iggy Azalea rapped, taking her audience back to her humble beginnings and baring her vulnerability. Although almost too brief, it made for an admiring moment that was perhaps the most memorable of the night.
Before the show, a rumor speculating Rita Ora joining Iggy on stage to perform “Black Widow” circulated among the crowd. Sadly, the anticipated duet did not happen and the rumor turned out false.
Perhaps the most dissatisfying, and shockingly so, was the live performance of the widely regarded summer anthem “Fancy.” Iggy’s two back-up singers replaced the famous vocals of Charli XCX proudly singing “I’m so fancy/ You already know.” While the soulful take on Charli XCX’s part proved intriguing, they didn’t deliver her verses with the same confidence and oomph that has made listeners feel truly “fancy.”
Despite the disappointing moments, Iggy Azalea gave the Pandora crowd what it was they were waiting for. As sprinkles of rain began to descend, Iggy Azalea put both of her hands out to feel the water on her palms, eyes locked on her audience. It was a stunning sight and one that nearly lives up to the title “The New Classic,” that she so badly covets.
– Gail Acosta