“I’m here to see Rihanna!” declared a keyed up and out of breath Bailey Oleksy from Martinsville, Indiana, who arrived early and positioned herself front row center along the Coke Zero Countdown Main Stage barricade. “I’m really excited!” She, along with thousands of other Rihanna fans arrived early to stake out their best spot for day two of the 2015 NCAA March Madness Music Festival on Saturday, April 4th.
The NCAA secured eight-time GRAMMY Award winner Rihanna as headliner on the Coke Zero Countdown Main Stage. The Barbadian singer, actress, and fashion icon has taken the music, entertainment and fashion industry by storm. As an accomplished performer, she has sold 54 million albums and 210 million digital tracks worldwide making her the top-selling digital artist of all time. She’s put out 7 albums in 7 years, achieved 13 number-one singles and won 8 GRAMMY Awards. With over 6 billion views and 20 Vevo certified videos she is the most viewed artist on Vevo/YouTube and is one of the biggest artists on Facebook with over 89 million friends. In addition, she’s successfully launched five fragrances, two capsule collections with Armani, as well as four River Island collections and is currently the spokesperson for MAC & Viva Glam. At the end of 2014, Rihanna became PUMA’s global ambassador for Women’s Training and now serves as the Creative Director, bringing her styling sensibilities and innovation to PUMA’s collections. [from Rihanna biography]
Rihanna shone bright like a diamond on this night hitting all of the right notes in a condensed fifty minute set performing snippets of songs that began shortly after the Duke Blue Devils beat the Michigan State Spartans in the first semi-final NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball game. Rihanna was the highlight to a day that also saw Bleachers and Passion Pit play to ever growing crowds on the Coke Zero Countdown Main Stage while local acts Party Lines, Kid Quill, and Reaul performed on the Coke Zero Countdown Side Stage.
Unlike the torrential downpour, chilly temperatures, and whipping winds of the day before, Saturday night provided a cloudless sky; and, as darkness settled, a bright moon and shiny bright stars. There was a chill to the air. The only memories of the previous night were the wood chips that were placed down on the White River State Park concert viewing hill; a muddy, mucky mess from the torrential downpour.
Then, in an instant there was a hush over the crowd. All went silent on stage; including all stage video monitors. As if on cue, a thunderous cheer went up as the first notes of “A Night” intro began. And, when it couldn’t get any louder…it did. Eight-time GRAMMY Award winner Rihanna took the stage and belted out “Rockstar 101” to screaming and adoring fans who waited for this moment. “American Oxygen” was next and a portion of her performance was aired on TBS, TNT, TruTV, and via NCAA March Madness Live as the single was used for March Madness promos, and served as the tournament’s musical backdrop.
Rihanna was supported by a full band, along with backing singers and dancers. Fans in attendance showed their love by dancing non-stop to “Rude Boy” and “Where Have You Been.” They sang in unison to “Umbrella,” “Live Your Life,” “Run This Town,” “All Of The Lights,” “FourFiveSeconds” and “Stay.”
“Alright, I don’t want to keep you here too long.” Rihanna told her minions. “It’s cold! You’ve all been out here since what? Some say last night. Some say this morning. I just wanna keep having a good time with ya’ll! Ya’ll are f***ing perfect! I’m glad I’m here with you tonight! I’ll give you a little bit more rap.” She then went into “Pour It Up.”
“Indianapolis, hope ya’ll still like my pop s**t!” yelled Rihanna. “Because, I wanna do some pop s**t!” White River State Park erupted into a single frenzied mass of fans dancing to “Where Have You Been.”
The most powerful song of the night was We Found Love. If this outdoor venue had a roof overhead…it would have blown off due to the energy of this explosive rockin’ guitar number.
“Thank you so much!” shouted Rihanna from the stage. “Indiana, this was one of the best nights ever. I can’t wait to come back here. Would love to come back here for you guys. You guys are the best. Thank you so much. March Madness! Love you!” And, just like, that it was done. A short, but fun time! Rihanna warmed the hearts of her fans who now are looking forward to a return engagement in the Circle City sometime in the future.
A Night (intro)
Live Your Life
Run This Town
All Of The Lights
Pour It Up
B*tch Better Have My Money
Where Have You Been
We Found Love