The 2018 B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash officially kicked off the holidays in Chicago on Dec. 8. With performances from Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes and more – the Bash was something I’ll never forget!

It was the cold Saturday morning of the Bash, and I woke up readily energized to have the time of my life. I had been waiting for this day since Sept. 21, when the lineup was revealed. After hearing the star-studded list of performers, I knew this was a concert I HAD to attend.

I dressed up as dapper as possible, since my ultimate celebrity crush Camila Cabello would perform in the same room as me. Oh, and did I mention my sister won us front row tickets, that ended up being in the dead center of the barricade? Not only would Camila bless me with her presence, she would be directly in front of me! This was bound to be the night of my life.

My family and I left for Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois at 5 p.m. sharp, in order to storm through the doors at 6:30 p.m..

We finally got in line at the arena entrance, and let me tell ya – that was the longest half hour of my LIFE! Temperatures were only in the 20s, and the wind chill felt like it was in the single digits. On the other hand, the merchandise table ONLY had double digits.

As always, the prices of the merch were insanely high, but totally worth the $40. B96 had a couple of options when it came to choosing a shirt. For $35, you could purchase a purple short-sleeved t-shirt that had the B96 logo on the front, with the artist lineup on the back. Or, if you were feeling like a total baller, you could purchase a grey long-sleeve shirt with the exact same design on it for $5 more. I ended up paying the extra $5 and got myself a new go-to sweater for the winter, which was was surprisingly good quality.

After nearly draining my bank account at the merch table, I just had to push it a little more when I spent $6.50 ON A BOTTLE OF WATER. Yes, you read that right – a bottle of water cost me six dollars and 50 cents. I also didn’t get to keep the cap either, for whatever reason. Still, I would rather destroy my bank account than pass out from dehydration.

We made it to our seats at 7 p.m., the show kicking off with Camila in exactly half an hour.

After eagerly waiting, the lights finally began to dim… the 60 second countdown appeared on the jumbotron, fans began to scream louder and louder, and goosebumps started to cover my skin. I had been waiting for this exact moment for three months now – and it was finally here.

Once we reached the last second, everyone jumped out of their seats. “The B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash is here… tonight at the Allstate Arena,” the jumbotron voiced, “Please welcome the one and only Camila Cabello.”

I nearly passed out. Two-time Grammy-nominee Camila Jahnke – I mean, Cabello – opened her set with her smash hit “Never Be the Same,” which had the crowd singing word-for-word. Cabello performed her classic “Bad Things,” as well as some album deep-cuts like “Inside Out” and “Into It.” Last but not least, Cabello closed out her set with her No. 1 smash “Havana.” As always, the future pop princess delivered vocals, choreography, and excellent fan-interaction. Cabello took to Twitter Sunday morning to announce she is “taking [my] first real break in 6 years – gonna get some rest and inspiration for the next era, I CAN’T WAIT.” What better way to close out an era than in Chicago?

Up-and-coming artists Lauv took the stage after Cabello, opening with his smash “I Like Me Better.” Even though I underestimated him in my preview article to the Bash, Lauv blew me away. His vocals were out of this world, and I fell in love with his song “Paris in the Rain,” which, by the way, needs to become a single ASAP. Lauv also sang his latest single “There’s No Way,” which features “Issues” singer Julia Michaels. Whether I knew the words or not, every song he sang left me in awe. Lauv is a true talent and deserves a lot more recognition.

Mike Posner was up next, and this is exactly when I should have taken a bathroom break. Opening with his extremely mello and boring track “Song About You,” I nearly fell asleep. Although he picked it up with his 2010 smash “Cooler than Me,” I still wasn’t feelin’ it. Sure, he did run through the area interacting with fans while performing the track, but it wasn’t enough to make me say I enjoyed the overall performance. He closed his set out with his smash “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” in which he dedicated to producer Avicii, who passed away earlier this year. Admittedly, this was a beautiful performance, but I wish he would have played the remixed version of the track rather than the acoustic. Talented man indeed, but definitely lacked energy and opened with the wrong song, which killed the whole vibe for me.

Shawn Mendes performs at the B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash. Photo Credit: Dylan Jahnke
Shawn Mendes performs at the B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash. Photo Credit: Dylan Jahnke

Up next was Grammy-nominee Shawn Mendes. As always, Mendes had Chicago screaming at the top of their lungs as he took the stage. He opened with his smash “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” which set the mood perfectly for his performance – energetic and upbeat. Mendes delivered A-list vocals and excellent stage presence, something the man has never lacked. Mendes sang classics like “Stitches” and “Mercy,” which are some of my favorites. I was hoping Shawn would bring Camila back out for a performance of their 2015 smash “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” as the two had teased a possible performance on Instagram earlier that week. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but Shawn still delivered an amazing set.

Taking the stage second-to-last was boy band “Why Don’t We,” and honestly, I have never heard a crowd scream so loud in my entire life. The boys opened with their smash hit “Trust Fund Baby,” each of the five boys taking the stage one-by-one throughout the song, which was actually pretty cool to see. I have never listened to these guys in my life, so I couldn’t even tell you what else they sang besides their own version of “Feliz Navidad” and a mashup of songs like “Losin Control” by Russ, “Starboy” by The Weeknd and “Love U Better” by Ty Dolla $ign. Of course, the boys threw in their upcoming smash “8 Letters,” which was one of the few songs I actually knew by them. They are definitely a talented group, but I’m not sure if they have what it takes to become the world’s next hot boy band.

Last but not least, five time Grammy-nominee Cardi B took the stage, opening with her single “Drip.” I’m going to keep it real with you – even though her microphone cut off for a solid 15 seconds during “Money Bag,” Cardi B owned the Jingle Bash and had a level of confidence I have never ever seen from any other artist in my entire life. Not only can she spit bars live, but she can dance at the same time. Cardi literally sang every song of her’s you can think of – from “Motorsport,” “Finesse,” “Bodak Yellow” and “Girls Like You.” Cardi put on a spectacular show and had energy that was out of this world. Earlier this week, Cardi took to Instagram to announce that her and her husband Offset are no longer together. The rapper proved it by changing her “Motorsport” verse to “I turn Offset on, I told him the other day – yeah we gonna get a divorce.” As of this weekend, the Instagram post has been taken down. Offset responded to the verse switch-up by tweeting “F— YALL I MISS CARDI.” Whether Cardi is still married or not, she put on an outstanding show that will impact my concert-going experience forever.

The concert ended around 11 p.m., and I didn’t officially get into bed until 1:30 a.m. Getting out of the venue was a challenge, but getting out of the parking lot was even harder. Taxis and Ubers were everywhere, surrounded by a ton of parents trying to find their kids. Even though it was a pain in the butt, this is what makes a concert a concert.

Honestly, this is one of the best shows I have ever attended. I got to see my wife and Grammy-nominee Camila Cabello, discovered my new favorite artist Lauv, saw rapper of the year Cardi B, AND SAT IN THE VERY FRONT ROW. Christmas definitely came early for me! What else could I possibly ask for now? Jingle Bash 2018 was definitely one for the books.

Photo Credit: Dylan Jahnke
Photo Credit: Dylan Jahnke

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