Jingle Ball is the best time of the year. Y100’s Christmas-themed concert is jam-packed with the hottest musicians, free reindeer antlers, and a reason to drag your mom out on a Sunday night. The line to the BB&T Center stretched past the parking lot and was filled with restless kids and their annoyed parents, high schoolers who were too cool to take their siblings with them, and millennials attempting to sneak snacks into the arena after they blew their Christmas money on floor seats. It’s safe to say Jingle Ball is for everyone.
This might be one of the only concerts that started on time in South Florida history. At 7:30 p.m., the giant screen above the stage began to count down from 60 seconds, enticing the fans to get out of their seats. By the time the screen hit ten, kids were screaming at the top of their lungs while their parents, knowing the night would be long, rolled their eyes. With their little reindeer antlers bouncing atop their heads, young fans continued to yell and jump as the first artists, Jack & Jack, hit the stage. The duo performed only two songs, and the audience sang along to just one, “Rise,” while the performers walked from one side of the stage to another, attempting to hype up the audience.
Grammy-winning artist Alessia Cara took the stage next, opening with her debut single “Here.” She changed her lyrics up to accommodate the location: “So tell my people when they’re ready that I’m ready/ And I’m standing in Miami with my beanie low/Yo, I’ll be over here.” She wore the same oversize suit and tie she’s been sporting since her album The Pains of Growing dropped, which she says represents trying to fit herself into roles that can be too large to handle. But she handled the stage and her performance well, singing selects from her album, along with fan favorite “Stay” with Zedd.
The Y100 stage continued to rotate with new sets and artists. Girl Meets World star Sabrina Carpenter took the stage full of energy, but the real treat was Shawn Mendes and his guitar. His first song was “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back,” which prompted everyone to sing along as he strummed his guitar. After thanking the audience, he waved at one fan in the fourth row and blew her a kiss. Her teenage heart melted as her friends looked at her in jealousy. He continued by singing a few of his biggest hits, including “Stitches,” “Someone Like You,” and “Isn’t in My Blood.”
The stage rotated yet again to reveal Calvin Harris on a giant DJ deck with monitors on all sides. An impressive, electricity-draining laser and light show unfolded as he spun his hits, including “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Summer,” and “We Found Love,” while the kids jumped and sang along. It was the closest they’d get to a rave in ten years.
A few more rotations revealed Bazzi. Clad in a black leather jacket with a white wool collar and cuffs, he posed for the Christmasy weather that South Florida has never seen. As he ended his set with “Mine,” he asked the crowd to sing along: “You so fuckin’ precious when you smile/Hit it from the back and drive you wild.” This allowed the adults in the audience to put their hearts into it while the kids murmured the F-word as their parents attempted to catch them slipping.
Bebe Rexha graced the stage toward the end of the night. Dressed in a studded black-and-gold leotard, she put her all into her last show of the year. By then, the crowd was wearing thin, but a 7-year-old in the third row was not leaving until he saw Marshmello.
R&B/pop artist Khalid blessed the crowd with one of the last rotations of the stage. His first song, “Young, Dumb and Broke” got the fans back on their feet as he moved along with his dancers. Maybe he was just having a good time, or maybe he was a part of the choreography; either way, he fell in line with a sturdy Milly rock that had the crowd shook. Of course, he couldn’t leave the stage without performing “Love Lies,” “Better,” and his debut single, “Location.”
Finally, Marshmello delivered the EDM set the 7-year-old was anticipating all night. Unleashing a blinding light show, the anonymous DJ ended the evening with the last bit of electricity that Calvin Harris didn’t use. The screen flashed rainbow colors and images of Marshmello’s signature helmet head while the boy and his brethren lost their minds. Y100’s Jingle Ball never fails to heighten the holiday spirit — along with the realization that your kids party harder than you ever did and that millennials never miss an opportunity to see their favorite artists perform on a Christmas-themed stage.