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Florida Georgia Line, Nelly map a collab at iHeartRadio Music Festival

Updated September 18, 2021 - 6:31 pm

When it comes to collaborations, Florida Georgia Line and Nelly know no boundaries.

The country (and beyond) duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley appeared with Nelly on Friday night at iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena. The temporary triumvirate performed “Cruise” and “Lil Bit,” two songs that have added country spice to Nelly’s career.

“I’ve had a lot of great success in all formats of music, and country’s been one that has accepted me and shown me a lot of love,” Nelly said in an interview with “Entertainment Tonight.” “I get a chance to maybe tap a little bit more into that sound, but bring my own Nelly flavor.”

FGL, which headlined a limited run at Zappos Theater in December 2018, has previously performed “Everybody” (Backstreet’s Back) with Backstreet Boys in the 2016 iHeart festival. BSB also appeared on FGL’s “God, Your Mama, and Me” release. Hubbard and Kelley have also partnered with The Chainsmokers, Ziggy Marley and Bebe Rexha.

Outside of the FGL pairing, Nelly performed “E.I.,” “Where The Party At” and “Air Force Ones.” The set closed a buoyant first night at iHeart. Nelly also invited City Spud for yet another unbilled appearance.

More from the opening-night scene at T-Mobile:

Weezer throws it down

A mustached and mullet-sporing Rivers Cuomo led the crowd on a rock show that included “Beverly Hills,” from the “Make Believe” album, and then “All My Favorite Songs,” from this year’s “OK Human.” Cuomo then took a trip to “Africa,” the Toto classic, from “The Teal Album.” Cuomo took to reclining on the set, in front of the drums, to address the crowd. Comfortable in his own skin, is this rock star.

Come back Rucker

Darius Rucker, who performed at the opening of Resorts World Las Vegas in June, wheeled through “Hold My Hand” and “Only Wanna Be With You” from his Hootie & The Blowfish catalog. “Beers And Sunshine” was in the set list, which sent the crowd to a sing-along with “Wagon Wheel.”

“Beers” is also Rucker’s latest album, out this year. In a news release, he talked of the album’s sunny theme. “I don’t know how we fix any of these big, real issues that we’re facing, but while we work through this time, I think it’s important that we find the silver lining where we can really enjoy the little moments and the simple joys of time spent together with friends and family.”

Cole’s ‘Power Trip’

Groundbreaking rapper J. Cole stormed through a medley spotlighted by “Middle Child,” “The London,” “Power Trip,” “Wet Dreamz” and “No Role Modelz.” Cole also introduced special guest Bas for “The Jackie.” Cole said he was “scared as (expletive)” in his first performance in two years.

He’s like, fancy

Walker Hayes performed live his TikTok sensation “Fancy Like.” The lyrics describe Hayes eating a steak and imbibing on an Oreo shake at Applebee’s on what he says is a fancy date. His TikTok dance (which is sort of Pitbull meets Human Nature) has inevitably gone viral with more than 656,000 views.

Hayes has also turned out such dance-able tunes as “You Broke Up With Me,” and “90s Country.” According to iHeartRadio’s count, the latter song incorporates 22 references to 1990s country songs. But no references to restaurant chains.

‘Optimism’ advocate

Finneas sings the sentimental single “The 90s,” but he reminds of artists even further back, from the 1970s. A former cast member of the Fox series “Glee” (where he played Alistair), Finneas alternated from piano to acoustic guitar, sampling from his upcoming album, “Optimist,” due Oct. 15. Look for “A Concert Six Months From Now,” performed Friday, as the lead single. Finneas’ full name is Finneas O’Connell, and contemporary music fans know his sister is Billie Eilish, for whom he has written and produced. There was no mention of the familial ties. There didn’t need to be. As an artist, Finneas can stand alone.

He’s a little bit iHeart

Donny Osmond turned up as one of the celeb presenters. He and host Ryan Seacrest introduced Nelly to close out the night. Osmond told Seacrest backstage he’d just hustled over from his show at Harrah’s. Seacrest had his arm around Osmond and said, “Is that why you’re still warm?” Osmond, wearing a black leather jacket, answered, “I’m hot!” The solo career seems to suit him well.

Jogging his memory

Seacrest mentioned to me a few years ago he liked to jog the Strip. That was him at about 11 a.m. Saturday, running in front of New York-New York and Park MGM, among other landmarks.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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