Michael Haskoor

Nearly 60,000 people gathered on the Great Lawn in Central Park on Saturday to rock out in support of the Global Citizen Campaign to help end extreme poverty. The Global Citizen Festival, as it was called, was a free ticketed event for which you simply had to sign up to become a Global Citizen via http://www.globalcitizen.org/. By signing a few petitions or spreading the word through social media, you earned points which would enter you into the drawing for a pair of tickets. With a lineup consisting of K’naan, Band of Horses, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters and Neil Young with Crazy Horse, this offer was hard to refuse.

The doors opened around 2:00pm and concertgoers were instructed to enter on either the East or West side of the park, depending on what your ticket specified. It was a long barricaded line to the center of the park, but upon arriving, you were greeted by thousands of anxious fans waiting for the music to start. The enormous stage was magnificent. K’naan was the first performer to go on at around 5:00pm and performed three of his most popular songs: “In The Beginning,” “The Seed” and his classic “Wavin’ Flag.” Some of the audience seemed to recognize his songs but most were just settling in.

The second act was Band of Horses who put on a clean sounding show. They played four of their greatest hits, with the singer even stating “we have to play our best songs even if they’re sensitive” (referring to their third song titled “No One’s Gonna Love You”). They opened with “Knock Knock” followed by “The Great Salt Lake” and ended with “The Funeral” which seemed to be the only song everyone knew.

The third band to come on was The Black Keys who definitely had the best crowd response. They were the first band with a longer set. Everyone’s phone came out ready to take pictures and video, and the crowd yelled and clapped throughout the performance. They were arguably the best performance (although Foo Fighters and Neil Young with Crazy Horse were not far behind). The highlight of their set had to be “Little Black Submarines.” Not much was said by frontman Dan Auerbach except that he was really glad to be there.

The Black Keys setlist:

Howlin’ for You
Next Girl
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Little Black Submarines
Money Maker
Strange Times
Nova Baby
She’s Long Gone
Tighten Up
Gold on the Ceiling
Lonely Boy
I Got Mine

The Foo Fighters were next. Frontman Dave Grohl made a statement that this was most likely their last show for quite some time and what better place to do it than there. Grohl came out solo to open the set with “Times Like These” then the band jumped in mid-song. With some talking in between and jam extensions of most of their songs, Foo Fighters played a few less songs than The Black Keys, but they did play nearly all of their timeless classics and had the crowd excited. The highlight of the set was definitely “My Hero” where crowd participation was at its peak.

Foo Fighters setlist:
Times Like These
All My Life
My Hero
Learn to Fly
These Days
Best of You

The final band to perform was the legend Neil Young with Crazy Horse. With the majority of the festival consisting of contemporary bands, this festival drew in a younger crowd. Many people left following the Foo Fighter’s performance. Even so, this barely diminished the large crowd. Neil Young with Crazy Horse jammed a long and heavy eight songs and finished out their set with one of the highlights of the night; Dan Auerbach and Dave Grohl on guitars for “Rockin’ in the Free World.” One of the festival announcers made a very corny joke that Neil Young should change the name of the song for one night to “Rockin’ in the Polio-Free World.”

Neil Young’s setlist:

Love and Only Love
Born in Ontario
Walk Like A Giant
The Needle and the Damage Done
Twisted Road
Fuckin’ Up
Rockin’ in the Free World

Other music celebrities were present. MTV’s Quddus was the MC throughout the festival and there were guest appearances by Selena Gomez and John Legend who even performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” prior to The Black Keys entering the stage. There were Global Citizen awards given for commendable charitable acts and video clips that brought the problems related to extreme poverty to light such as Polio, Childbirth Casualties, Lack of Education and Malaria. The festival was a success. Global Citizen put a lot into this event and it showed.

[photo by Katie Couric]