Jay Z's streaming service TIDAL put on its biggest live performance yet when it took over Barclays Center with just about every act that has signed to its list of artist owner roster and more. Flexing their muscle and influence over the music industry, Jay Z and co were able to get Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, French Montana, Usher, Nas, Nick Jonas, Fabolous and plenty more.
The show was originally supposed to kick off at 8 p.m., but with the crowd still working their way inside and into their seats, instead waiting in long drink and food lines, the arena was still half empty at 8:30 when DJ Cipha Sounds finally gave way to what was to be the fastest turnover of artists possibly in the history of music performances.
Indochine was up first to play "some French rock n roll" for the hip-hop-centric crowd. They only had two songs, but the crowd seemed to enjoy their set. This began the run of one or two song opening acts over the next 45 minutes that included Flatbush Zombies, who yelled that this was the best night of their lives having grown up right around the arena, Alessia Cara, Bas, Justine Sky, who brought out 2 Milli and Benjamin Booker.
The newest TIDAL artist owner Damian Marley was introduced by Angie Martinez before he did "Welcome To Jamrock" with his flag dude going off.
Hitboy brought out A$AP Ferg and Drake's "ghostwriter" Quentin Miller to premiere a brand a new song.
The string of one song acts continued with a remarkable changeover speed by the production crew who were able to take down and disassemble a DJ booth in less than 60 seconds. There was the main stage in the front of house and then a second middle circular platform in the middle of the floor that some artists performed on like Flatbush Zombies if a longer changeover was required.
Thomas Rhett was up next, followed by Nick Jonas doing "Levels," and then Vic Mensa with "U Mad" as his guitarist absolutely demolished his guitar. That was cleaned up in a matter of seconds. If only the streaming service could have this level of efficiency.
T.I. (Now TIP) couldn't resists the collaboration and guest-fest, bringing out Young Dro for their remix of "We In Da City." He then had the cast of Money & Violence come out and announce that season two will air on TIDAL in January 2016.
Things then started to really turn up once T.I. made way for Meek Mill. The crowd started rapping almost as loud as Mill as he made his way to the center podium where he was joined by Rick Ross, DJ Khaled and French Montana for the most exciting collaboration of the evening. French led a free Bobby Shmurda-inspired rap of "Hot Boy," as Rozay brought out Khaled to "All I Do Is Win" because the crowd was full of winners.
The night still had another hour to go with the breakneck pace of new artists coming up to stage slowing just a little bit. Usher performed his TIDAL exclusive track "Chains" with Nas and Bibi Bourelly live, though after the high-energy from Ross, Montana, Khaled and Mill, it seemed like a letdown.
Fabolous then took over as a local kid, before giving it up to HOV, who commanded the stage with various collaborations with a shirtless Rick Ross "F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit" and Lil Wayne for "Hello Brooklyn 2.0."
Jay, being the gentleman that he is, let the ladies finish things off with Nicki doing two songs and then she brought out Beyoncé to shrill screams of the crowd as they performed "Feeling Myself" for the first time ever live. They showed their on stage charisma with a dance battle between their crews and their individual moves. Queen Bee stayed to sing one of her favorite songs "Holy Grail" with her husband.
Jay capped off the evening in the only way that the fans could be sent home - "Empire State Of Mind." He urged the crowd to sing and they did eagerly as the sold out audience streamed out happy, but a little disappointed the lights came on a few minutes after 11 p.m.
The whole concert felt like a celebration of a service that has struggled so mightily since it's very public relaunch in March.If there is one thing TIDAL is good at, it is artist relations and this was an unnecessary flexing of TIDAL's muscle to put artists in front of you.
According to HOV, they raised "a lot of money" for charity, which is commendable. However the concert was rather messy. It was fun, but giving artists only a song or two is hard to follow in a cohesive manner. They won over ticket buyers with star-power and the collaborations made for excellent story lines and wonderful memories, but a more focused attempt at a concert would be a smarter plan of attack for the future. Sounds awfully like what industry experts have been saying for the music service. HOV said this was the first annual TIDAL charity concert, so they will have an opportunity to work on it for next year.
Update: According to TIDAL, the concert raised $1.5 million for charity.