The Third Global Citizen Fest -- Pop Against Poverty
  • MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2014

  • Posted by: Austin Price

It hasn't been unusual for musicians to throw their not-insignificant cultural weight behind social causes in the past. Oftentimes results have been patronizing, with some rather confused politics: there's a chance, as with events like Band-Aid and We Are the World, for dissonant corporate shilling and insular self-congratulations.

Luckily it seems we've all learned a lesson since then. As much potential as there was for the third Global Citizen Festival to fall apart under a bunch of smug celebrity self-righteousness and audience pandering, the event organizers realized that this kind of behavior was more than a little insular. Hence the inclusion of a number of major political figures, including, but not limited to, guest appearances by the U.N.'s secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, Samantha Powers -- America's ambassador to the United Nations -- and Nardena Modi, the Prime Minister of India. Though there's a certain bit of uneasiness inherent in this kinds of interactions, something uncomfortable about global political players rubbing too-friendly elbows with celebrities like Jay-Z, Tiesto, and the members of No Doubt. The inclusion of people who are actually directly involved in finding solutions to many of the world's worst problems suggests that someone on the board of directors for this event cares as much about altruism as they do about drumming up media attention. The fact of the matter is the whole event drew over 60,000 fans onto the Great Lawn in Central Park in an attempt to raise awareness and money for the purpose of ending global poverty by 2030, so that's something.

Good intentions and results aside, though, was the concert worth attending? Should you be ready for next year? Hard to say. Those who were there seem unanimous in their praise for Jay-Z's set, which featured a lauded special-guest appearance by Beyonce, and The Roots' perfect cover of Fela Cuti's "Water No Get Enemy." Even No Doubt's team-up with Sting seemed to float more than a few viewers' figurative boats but opinion was divided elsewhere.

There was little love for Alicia Keys' set, which was described as "leaden" by The New York Times while Carrie Underwood's performance was, even worse, "bionic." In the end, though, it all seems to depend on your tolerance for big pop acts, show-biz glitz and global altruism. In the case that all three are fine by you, or even just one, though, then it's not a bad time to start preparing: getting tickets to this event has always been a bit unorthodox and generally requires a bit of volunteering from anyone who'd like to go. You've got to give something to get something, I suppose.

PS: While it was difficult to find high-quality clips of some of the less-lauded here are a few of the highlights:



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