Dear on-the-rise pop singers, pay attention to Nick Jonas. On Saturday, Made in America Festival's first day, the 22-year-old laid the blueprint for how a young, upcoming hitmaker should approach a festival set. Jonas played the Liberty Stage, MiA's second-biggest, and after catching his performance it’s clear he’s aiming for a spot on that main Rocky Stage next year.
"Rising” or “upcoming” may not sound like a label for Nick Jonas—he was part of the Jonas Brothers. Disney helped launch the three brothers into superstardom in 2006, yet they disbanded in October 2013 to pursue solo projects.
For Nick Jonas, a former child star turned male pop singer in his early 20s, redefining yourself as an actually cool adult star is a challenging path, one that doesn’t usually lead to No. 1 singles and national tours. Nick Jonas defied the odds, but not without hard work, perseverance and smarts.
Before even stepping foot onstage at Made in America, Nick Jonas’ fans were audibly excited to catch a glimpse of their crush-worthy fave. When Nick finally took the stage singing his hit single, “Chains," there was no doubt that the crowd was ready. After giving the fans a bit of the familiar, Nick performed the brand new single “Levels,” which he performed for the first time at last week's MTV VMAs. The vocals are still going strong and don’t sound like they’re simmering anytime soon.
A few songs later, Nick launched into a funky cover of OutKast’s “Roses” followed by a short rendition of the Weeknd’s current No. 1 hit “Can’t Feel My Face.” After singing his own “Teacher,” Nick pulled out one last surprise, ‘90s R&B group Bell Biv DeVoe’s classic “Poison.” Surprisingly, Nick’s fans seemed to know the words to all three covers.
Nick asked the feverish crowd if they were ready to dance and launched into the uptempo cuts “Take Over” and “I Want You” off his 2014 breakout solo album. Wrapping up the set, the soulful singer slowed it down with “Santa Barbara,” a chill, guitar-driven ballad. The crowd chanted the song’s anthemic "ooooh ooh oooh" refrain back to Nick, who was obviously pleased with how it all went down.
Closing the 45-minute set with his smash “Jealous,” it was clear Nick Jonas has transcended his Disney past, on his own terms. Nick’s become a star in his own right with the soulful vocals, charming stage presence, hit singles and loyal fans to prove it. Like we said: Pay attention, up-and-comers.
Full Nick Jonas at Made in America 2015 setlist:
4. “Good Thing” (Sage the Gemini feat. Nick Jonas)
6. “Roses” (Outkast cover)
7. “I Can’t Feel My Face” (the Weeknd cover)
9. “Poison” (Bel Biv DeVoe cover)
10. “Take Over”
11. “I Want You”
12. “Santa Barbara”