The musical stars aligned for a noble cause on Saturday night at Audacy’s eighth annual We Can Survive concert, which boasted a stacked lineup that included Saweetie, the Kid Laroi, Shawn Mendes, Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, Doja Cat and Coldplay.
The star-studded show, which was presented in partnership with the the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, packed the Hollywood Bowl’s 17,500 seats — and kept the fans fed with a night of nonstop hits from every performer. With set times averaging around 30 minutes and the Bowl’s efficient rotating platform eliminating breaks between acts, the audience was given little time to digest before being launched into the next performance — for better or for worse.
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Though the concert’s quick pace gave it a slightly rushed feel, it delivered some magical moments — from the Kid Laroi’s energy-filled set to Coldplay’s slew of onstage guests. Read on for all the highlights.
The Kid Laroi’s Vocal Might
Maybe it was the studded leather jacket he was wearing, but rap-pop dynamo the Kid Laroi gave off major rockstar vibes during his set. Concert footage of Laroi floating around on TikTok didn’t always do justice to his vocals , so it was refreshing to hear Laroi’s singing in all of his pitch-perfect-yet-gritty glory. The 18-year-old Laroi truly seemed at home as he hopped around the stage, interacting with his band members who brought more rock-leaning instrumentation to his songs’ clean-cut melodies. Stand-out tracks include “Go,” Laroi’s song with the late Juice Wrld; “Lonely and F*cked Up,” which was accompanied by some pyrotechnics; “Always Do,” during which he climbed up a towering stack of amp cabs; and of course, “Stay,” his chart-topping record with Justin Bieber about which he happily proclaimed, “This song is one of the biggest in the world right now!” Before ending his set with “Without You” — the track that shot him to international acclaim earlier this year — Laroi ruminated on his own journey with mental health. “It’s something that I deal with and a lot of people around me deal with,” Laroi said before launching into the song, which the crowd chanted back at him.
Shawn Mendes’ Call-and-Response
Following Laroi, Shawn Mendes launched his performance with “Wonder,” the title track from his latest album. Taking the stage without his signature guitar, Mendes seemed a bit out of place until it was back in his arms for his 2017 hit “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” which then went straight into “If I Can’t Have You.” With the audience yelling every word to these two tracks, there was almost no need for Mendes to sing — and he used that to his advantage, oftentimes just filling in the blanks or riffing on his own well-known choruses. Indeed, Mendes was at his best when singing the songs that made him famous, with newer tracks — like “Summer of Love” and “Monster” falling flat with the audience. However, Mendes ended his set strong with an energetic rendition of “Treat You Better” and piano-led “In My Blood,” which he dedicated to those struggling with mental health.
Black Eyed Peas’ Party-Starting Energy
After two back-to-back singer-songwriters, the Bowl was ready for a group and Black Eyed Peas — now comprised of Will.i.am, Taboo, Apl.de.ap and new member J. Rey Soul — obliged with obligatory set opener, “Let’s Get It Started.” But not everyone was up on the group’s member lineup, as an attendee nearby was heard asking, “Where’s Fergie?” The trio was soon joined by Soul, as the foursome segued into “Boom Boom Pow” (worth noting: Fergie’s iconic “so 2000 and late” verse was cut out of the mix). After playing another hit, “Pump It,” the Peas transitioned into their newer Latin cuts, including “Hit It,” “Girl Like Me,” “Mamacita” and “RITMO.” Like Mendes, the Peas were better received when playing the hits — which gave way to one of the most memorable songs of the night, “Where Is the Love?” Will.i.am dedicated the track to all the “first responders, supermarket workers, Uber drivers and cashiers” and asked the audience to put their phone flashlights in the air and sing along. The Peas’ set with a mega mash-up of “I Got a Feeling” and “The Time (Dirty Bit),” as well as a few of Will.i.am’s solo works, like “Scream & Shout” with Britney Spears and “OMG” with Usher.
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Maroon 5’s Hit-Heavy, No-Nonsense Delivery
Kicking off the set with “Moves Like Jagger,” Adam Levine and Co. served back-to-back hits for the entirety of their 40-minute set, barely pausing in between tracks. This resulted in some impressive transitions, including at the end of “Moves Like Jagger,” in which the band cut the tempo in half and segued into 2002 hit, “This Love.” Sporting a bright green sweater embossed with a pixelated unicorn, Levine also surprised when he took a minute of the song to bang out a guitar solo — a hint of more to come. After speeding through “Stereo,” “One More Night” and “Animals,” Levine once again reunited with a pink guitar to prove to the audience he can do more than hit falsettos. But the set’s true highlights were when the band slowed down to play “Sunday Morning,” and only guitarist James Valentine stuck around to accompany Levine on an acoustic rendition of “She Will Be Loved.” Bringing the energy back up, Maroon 5 closed its performance with 2015 hit “Sugar,” with Levine serving up a few more high notes for the road.
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Doja Cat’s Nu Metal Infusions
Easily the most entertaining set of the night, Doja Cat took a break from the festival circuit to bring her much-talked about “Planet Her” set to the Bowl. Accompanied by four dancers and a tight live band, the production value of her set could not be beat. Opening with “Rules,” Doja immediately impressed by keeping step with some high stakes choreography, including rapping while in a back bend — no backing track required. Dressed in an expertly ripped outfit like she just escaped from an alien abduction, Doja brought the wackiness that the evening was in need of with her over-the-top facial expressions and side commentary, at one point signaling out the moms and dads in the family-friendly crowd because she “doesn’t get to see them often.”
After crossing off hits from her latest album — like “Get Into It (Yuh),” “Kiss Me More” and “You Right” — Doja waltzed over to an electric drum kit to bang out the opening beat to “Tia Tamera,” her 2018 track with Rico Nasty. With the rhythm established, Doja again showed off her expert rapping skills — complete with perfectly-timed breath work — and then promptly exited the stage to the beat of an epic drum solo. Doja’s set certainly had a hard rock edge, which was personified in her long-haired guitarist alone, but also made itself known when she sang “Say So” over a nu metal-infused instrumental to close out her set. But of course, despite the new vibe, people could still be seen doing the song’s TikTok dance all over the Bowl.
Coldplay’s Set Full of Stars
Anyone expecting a mellow Coldplay set received no such reprieve as frontman Chris Martin brought an unexpectedly goofy energy to the stage. Dancing with his arms flailing as the band kicked off the set with “Higher Power,” he kept the energy high with “Viva La Vida,” then dramatically fell to the stage floor and and crawled to the piano to sing “Fix You.” Although the Bowl’s video screens were glitchy throughout the set, Coldplay’s neon visuals carried through the crowd as bracelets provided for all pulsed a different color with every beat, providing a light show of its own.
Thankfully, the video projection issue was fixed by the time Coldplay brought out its first guests of the night — Grammy-winning musician Jacob Collier and R&B duo We Are King, who sang a stripped-down rendition of “Human Heart.” The serene mood continued with “Yellow,” which Martin dedicated to the late Benjamin Storm Keough and performed solo with an acoustic guitar as the stage was flooded in the namesake’s color. Following the intimate sing-along, Martin asked the crowd to make a wish for him, saying: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if a Spice Girl would appear out of nowhere?” Sure enough, Mel C — aka Sporty Spice, who was just eliminated from “Dancing With the Stars” — showed up, prompting shrieks from the crowd. The two then sang the famous girl group’s love song “2 Become 1.” Though the rendition wasn’t without its lyrical mishaps, it cemented Coldplay’s set as truly star-studded. To cap it all off, Coldplay played its new song, “My Universe” (featuring K-pop supergroup BTS, whose members were not in attendance), and finished the show with “A Sky Full of Stars,” during which a fireworks display fittingly lit up the night.
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