On Saturday night, a curated bill of hip-hop and R&B with Snoop, Lamar, Cole, Miguel and Schoolboy Q (who, along with Lamar, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul, constitute the Black Hippy collective) rattled Staples, and the Roots, along with a host of special guests, kept the groove going late into the night at Club Nokia.
And all this action came before Sunday's show. But viewers at home wouldn't have known.
The telecast made a brief mention of its new digs, and plans for R. Kelly to close the show with a performance beamed from Staples were punted.
Instead, he made great use of the Nokia auditorium early in the telecast and had dozens of backing singers fill the aisles and tear through a medley of his hits before he took the stage.
As for the awards? Two of the night's notable winners, Miguel (he took home the award for R&B male) and Lamar (he went home with new artist and hip-hop male) also triumphed with their performances — both on the telecast and in their concert slots Saturday.
It would have been ideal if the millions of viewers at home had gotten a sampling of what they missed over the weekend.
But as with any great music festival, the experience is better felt on the ground, sticky heat and all.
As fans and celebrities headed home or to after-parties, a swath of the audience made a familiar pilgrimage — over to Staples Center to catch the closing performance of Kelly, New Edition and the Jacksons.