RIYADH: Gamers8 opened with a bang as a lineup of international and local artists took to the stage at the NXT LVL Mohammed Abdo Arena at Riyadh Boulevard City.
Saudi DJ and music producer El Fuego was greeted with cheers from the waiting audience. His sound, consisting of uplifting electronic beats and sensual, warrior-like vocals, made for an appropriate kickoff to the inaugural festival.
He was followed by Egyptian singer Amr Diab who performed his most popular singles, including “Amel Eih” and Agmal Eyoun.”
Concert attendee Saad Aldawood told Arab News: “The performances were awesome. I came for the atmosphere, but all the performances just made me want to fly. They know how to light up the crowd.
“I feel a higher level of quality in life (with these events) since I’m getting good entertainment from all over the world and my schedule is always full with different events that suit me and my friends and family.”
Diab collaborated in recent years with DJ and producer Marshmello, who will be performing on Aug. 11, on a track titled “Bayen Habeit.”
Uplifting the crowd next was Colombian singer J Balvin, dubbed the “Prince of Reggaeton,” credited with popularizing a music style that is unconventionally slower and minimalist compared to the brisk traditional nature of the Latin reggae genre.
The crowd moved along to his most popular tracks, including “Mi Gente,” “I Like It” and “RITMO” in collaboration with the Black Eyed Peas, who will be performing live on Aug. 25.
Ending the night were Swedish DJ Sebastian Ingrosso and Bosnian-Swedish DJ Salvatore Ganacci, who played back-to-back for the second time on a Saudi stage, preceded by their performance at the region’s biggest music festival MDLBEAST last year.
They weaved in pop music classics to their tracks like Bob Marley’s “Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright” and ABBA’s “Man After Midnight.”
The festival is the first and biggest of its kind, spotlighting e-sports gaming teams and experts from all over the world to participate in a series of tournaments, including Fortnite and Dota 2, with a promise of a pool prize of $15 million.
The day’s festivities kicked off with the initiation of the tournament series featuring electronic sports teams from all over the globe. The opposing teams competed in the Gamers8 quarterfinals, allowing the winners to move to the semifinals that took place on the same day. Some of the more educational elements of the festival include workshops, webinars, and exhibitions led by global experts and specialists.
The festival launched, after weeks of public anticipation, in an effort to legitimize the Saudi gaming and e-sports field. The goal is to create a space where gamers can connect with their community and pursue their passions while contributing to the economy.
“I think (this event) gives an opportunity among the artists and even the Saudi people to meet on Saudi land, where they can demonstrate their perspectives, their art. I’m sure that, I would say, some percentage of the people here have never been to concerts or (to see) DJs. I think it’s a great opportunity for them to see different worlds,” another festival-goer, Moayed Abdulmohsen, told Arab News.
Upcoming gigs include performances by Balquees, rappers Nuss and Lil Pump, DJs Alex Walker and DJ Snake, Nanci Ajram and many others.