The music festival scene suffered dearly in 2020. As 2021 started and vaccines began rolling out, artists and festival-goers alike began seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and hope that soon they’d be back in the crowds, vibing to the electric waves of their favorite festivals. For the most part, that hope has materialized as festival after festival has gone forward with little muss and fuss. Rolling Loud in Miami was one of the first to announce a return, and it went off this weekend without a hitch. Well, maybe a single hitch in the form of a shoe. 

Rolling Loud Star Lineup

Rolling Loud 2021 Megan Thee Stallion

This year’s lineup seemed to include pretty much every rap and hip hop artist in the country. After a year of silence, they were ready to hit the stage again – and the fans showed up to enjoy their returns. 

Some of the biggest performances include:

  • Travis Scott: Scott utterly commanded the stage during his performance, taking advantage of a swinging platform over the audience and the runway to physically dominate. Scott’s music also seized the mosh-pit atmosphere of his performances, with fans completely in-tune with his energy. At one point Scott called for the audience to let loose, saying “This sh-t right here is for the ragers and for the ragers only!”
  • Latto: Latto got her start on a rap reality TV show but had no problem taking her act to the stage and plugging in to the audience. Latto’s performance was energetic, highly sexual, and completely unabashed as she confidently owned the stage. 
  • Young Thug: Unfortunately, Thug’s set was beset by technical woes which dimmed the shine of his otherwise stellar performance. Rolling Stone writes, “Thug emerged on stage for his Friday night show as a puppet master, commanding a sea of dancers in violently pink sweatsuits that matched his unseasonable bubble coat, bold graphics, and sparse locs from on high. Stuffed into bejeweled hot pink pants, Young Thug announced his upcoming album, Punk, a work he’s been floating since 2019.” No exact release date has been shared yet. 
  • Don Toliver: Toliver didn’t just show up to perform, he showed up to give fans a multi-sensory experience. The stage displayed inflatable cacti and mushrooms with a matching digital background that took the audience on a trippy and ethereal journey. 
  • Other huge name artists like Rico Nasty, Kaash Paige, Bobby Shmurda, Playboi Carti, and Kenny Mason gave excellent performances, proving tha thet despite long stretch of 2020, it was well worth the wait. 
  • Megan Thee Stallion: Megan is an absolute master of her genre and her performance this weekend was no exception. Once again, the young rapper showed why she’s considered one of the best in the business and flawlessly brought some of her best hits to life on stage.

Notable Moments

Rolling Loud 2021 DaBaby Tory Lanez

However, speaking of Megan brings us to some of the noteworthy events of the weekend. One such happened when DaBaby was nearly hit by a shoe thrown by an audience member. It’s possible that the shoe was thrown in anger for who the rapper brought onto stage with him. DaBaby – real name Johnathan Kirk – brought none other than Tory Lanez onto stage with him. Lanez is an ex-boyfriend of Megan, and was accused of shooting her last July. The kicker (shoe pun intended)? Kirk paraded Lanez onto stage during his set – minutes after Megan left the stage. In that context, a near miss by a shoe seems a mild response for such a blatant challenge. NY Post reports that Kirk responded, “Who the f–k threw that mother f–kin’ busted a– God d–n [Adidas]?”

Other notable moments were notably less emotionally charged. Lil Baby took the stage looking like he was dressed for a night of beers with the boys, but was bedecked with huge and sparkling jewelry pieces to offset the bizarrely casual outfit. Despite his low-key costuming, the performance was out of this world and of the high quality fans have come to expect from the rapper. 

And perhaps one of the best moments of the weekend came when Morray took the stage. Per Rolling Stone; “Fayetteville, North Carolina, is a four-hour flight from Miami, but ‘Ville native Morray entered a new stratosphere with his Rolling Loud debut. An early evening crowd on the thinner side — dampened but undeterred by stubborn rain showers — gradually thickened as Morray slid through a set of his soulful rap ballads. Though he sings of street strife, he was all grins and jest in his set.” Morray’s flawless performance marked one of the best moments of the weekend because it showed that rap isn’t done producing new stellar talents. Every year, someone new steps up to the stage and pushes the genre forward. While the young rapper may not have the clout yet of his more famous peers, the promise of another big name growing in the industry is always something to celebrate.

2021 Festivals

Lollapolooza

Rolling Loud may have been one of the first festivals to announce a return to live performances, but many have soon followed.  2021’s biggest festivals include:

  • Lollapalooza: Headlined by Miley Cyrus, Illenium, Tyler, The Creator, Marshmello, Post Malone, Foo Fighters, Steve Aoki, and others, the Chicago festival is returning July 29th through August 1st of 2021. 
  • Rockville: This rock-centered festival is going live November 11-14 on the Daytona International Speedway, headlined by Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Cypress Hill, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Lynard Skynard, The Offspring, Disturbed and more. 
  • Riot Fest: Another Chicago festival, Riot Fest is happening September 16-19, with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Coheed and Cambria, Machine Gun Kelly, Dropkick Murphies, and more. 

Rolling Loud Miami’s resounding success proves that nothing has been able to stop the music. Not a worldwide pandemic, not economic insecurity, nothing. Music is a vital part of any society’s ability to understand the times they live in, and Rolling Loud was an important part of recovering from a year of uncertainty and fear.