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Flo Rida, Pitbull, Maroon 5 bring the party to March Madness Music Festival

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Latin beats, social justice, wild parties, love songs and a sprinkling of hybrid musical genres from the powerhouse lineup of Maroon 5, Pitbull, Aloe Blacc and Flo Rida closed out the three day March Madness Music Festival on Sunday night.

Produced by Turner Sports Live Events, the Capital One Jam Fest held at Discovery Green Park, did not disappoint. Treating fans to a free concert on a first come, first serve basis, everyone received complimentary clear bags with the NCAA Final Four logo as a security measure.

Concert-goers arriving after 5 p.m. weren’t so lucky. Closed-off gates and barricades set up by police officers was as close as these fans, most of them families with small children, would get to park. Surprisingly, many cheerfully stood outside listening to the music drifting from the park.

Not wanting to miss out on Maroon 5, Martin Camacho and Irais Sanchez, both of Baytown, arrived in the afternoon and still managed to secure a place in the front of the stage. Telling the crowd they were meeting friends, Camacho said they zigzagged their way towards the stage.

Without any games scheduled on Sunday, players competing in Monday’s championship game between Villanova and North Carolina rested.

Fans on the other hand, many of whom were from out of town, flocked to downtown looking for things to do. Whether it was meeting an NBA legend like Charles Barkley at the Fan Fest inside the George R. Brown Convention center, walking across the street to Discovery Green or sitting at an outdoor bar to people watch, Sunday’s weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.

Inside the park, Aloe Blacc, warmed up the crowd with his sultry and thought provoking songs, including “The Man” and “Wake Me Up.”  Accompanied by a full band with a horn section and two drummers, Blacc’s performance included a mixture of funk, soul, rock, jazz and pop.

Houstonians were then treated to the Miami Invasion.

Flo Rida got the party started with “Wild Ones.” And just like the songs title implies, he sprayed the crowd with champagne, gave out long stem roses and threw wads of cash into the crowd. Singing one hit after another, Rida kept the fans dancing throughout his 50 minute set.

The festivities continued with Mr. 305 and Mr. Worldwide himself. Surrounded by a bevy of beautiful dancers, Pitbull took to the stage singing “Que No Pare La Fiesta”/“Don’t Stop the Party.” Dressed all in black, he took turns rapping and singing to some of his greatest hits in English and Spanish.

“Let me tell you what I love about music. It’s that it brings everybody together no matter where you’re from, no matter what you represent, no matter what your beliefs may be, your cultures may be; It breaks down limits, it breaks down walls, it breaks down borders and it’s truly the universal language,” said Pitbull.

The evening came to a close with the much anticipated Maroon 5 performance, followed by fireworks. Taking the stage after the sun had set, Adam Levine, the band’s front man, gave an emotionally raw yet powerful performance, setting the mood and the stage for the final matchup of the Final Four.

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