College football fans and New Orleans residents gathered on Tuesday night for free activities and jaw-dropping performances to kick off the new year. For the fourth year, Allstate’s Fan Fest served as the Central Time Zone Countdown location of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. This year’s live segment included performances by multi-platinum selling artists Sheryl Crow and Usher.
New Year, New Host
Previously, Pretty Little Liars star, Lucy Hale, has hosted Dick Clark’s Rockin Eve in New Orleans. This year Lucy joined host Ryan Seacrest in Times Square for the Eastern Time Zone Countdown. Pose star, Billy Porter, took over as the host for New Orleans this year! Billy performed his #1 hit single, “Love Yourself” while rocking an embellished gold jacket with matching boots and a hat. Throughout the night, he changed about 4 times and surely dressed to impress with each ensemble.
Besides the headliners, the crowd also got to catch a performance by Louisiana native, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys. The local fiddler, singer-songwriter performed a song for the crowd before Sheryl Crow hit the stage.
Louisiana’s Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser also made an appearance. “Like our LSU Tigers, our seafood can’t be beat. We have the best food, restaurants, but what’s most special about Louisiana is our people. We have the friendliest people in the world,” Nungesser said before making a toast with Billy Porter to ‘letting the good times roll.’ They sipped on some Sazerac, the world’s first cocktail that was created right here in the city of New Orleans.
Kicking It Off with Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow was first to hit the stage. The Grammy award winning singer-songwriter performed some of her biggest hits like “All I Wanna Do,” “If It Makes You Happy,” and “Soak Up the Sun.” She quickly got the crowd riled up when she changed one of the lines a song to “…trying to see the Saints play.” Who Dat, am I right?
Crow was charismatic as ever and very interactive with the crowd — from walking around the stage to taking a seat along the edge and singing directly to some of her biggest fans. She even cracked a few jokes during her set. Before performing a song she wrote with Joe Walsh called “Good Ole Days,” she asked the crowd , “How many of yall in your 30s?” before responding “Me too!”
She ended her set in the best way possible, by performing her 1996 hit single, “Everyday is a Winding Road.” A track that she ironically recorded right here in New Orleans in the French Quarter over 27 years ago!
A Show-Stopping Performance from Usher
To sum it up for you, Usher’s set was everything. From the production to his 10 back-up dancers to the outfits changes, he owned the stage. The world renowned singer-songwriter took fans down memory lane performing everything from “My Way” to “U Remind Me” to “Climax” to “Love In This Club.” My personal favorite part of his set was definitely the all of the remixes and breakdowns of her classics, especially the transition from “Bad Girl” to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” to “DJ Got Us Fallin In Love” being performed over the instrumental of “Bad” to the normal track of “DJ Got Us Fallin In Love.”
From the production side, it felt like you were inside the Smoothie King Center watching a show. There was smoke being emitted from every angle of the stage, visuals playing in the background, flashing multi-colored lights that set the tone for each song, and of course pyro during “Burn”.
Usher ended off his set with three of hit singles, “OMG,” “Yeah!” and “Without You!”
Saying Goodbye to 2019
As the night came to an end, Billy Porter and his husband, Usher and his dancers, Sheryl Crow and her band, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys took the stage to countdown to the new year. As the fleur-di-lis dropped in Jackson Square and the fireworks show along the Mississippi River began, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys took us into 2020 with “Old Blind Zion.”
Thoughts on NYRE
Though I missed having Lucy Hale host, I think Billy Porter did a great job as the host this year! He definitely has a personality fit for the New Orleans crowd.
Unlike previous years, there was a new stage design. This year, they incorporated a small pit inside the stage where a select handful of super fans got an exclusive viewing of the performances up close. I loved the new stage design because it allowed for a more interactive set.
Though only two to three songs get aired on TV, the artists actually perform about an hour long set for the crowd. But I can say that an hour definitely was not long enough to cover the discographies of either artist. But both artists managed to fit a plethora of songs into their sets for fans to hear live.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Allstate Fan Fest and New Year’s Rockin Eve event! Want to relive the night? Check out my NYRE Instagram Highlight to watch clips from the show along with the photo gallery below.