I lost my phone (sorry to the friends that called/texted), missed the draft for my fantasy football league, and nearly passed out from standing in a crowded space with no water. Needless to say, Made In America (MIA) was well worth it, kinda.
This past weekend Philadelphia hosted the annual Made In America music festival. Spread across two-days, the music festival boasted a lineup ranging from Pop to electronic, Trap to the Blues, and everything else in between, all performed across three stages: The Rocky stage (main stage), Liberty Stage, and a Tidal stage, a smaller stage for up-and-coming acts (also a shameless plug for Jay-Z). Aesthetically, the sponsors and planners of the festival have it down pact – a mini amusement park in the middle of the Parkway, free food and drinks you can sample (just have to be willing to stand in line), and water stations. It’s truly a marvel to see The Parkway turned into a full-fledged music festival space. In short, the festival’s worth the hype.
Music festivals typically have multiple stages that are staggered throughout the day. For example while Travis Scott was on the Liberty Stage, DJ Khaled was preparing to go on at The Rocky Stage. Depending on who you want to see, sometimes it’s best to leave one stage early in an effort to get a good spot for the next act – an opportunity cost of sorts. I’m not crazy about the snapchatting DJ by any means, but I wanted a good spot for Chance The Rapper and Coldplay, both of which were playing the main stage after DJ Khaled. So, I left Travis Scott’s set early (where he climbed trees and yelled at camera men) to get in position for DJ Khaled’s set. After jockeying for position with other festival goers for 30 minuets DJ Khaled began his set to the sound of “All I do Is Win”, and when the song says and everybody's hands go up, the crowd went WILD! Khaled also brought out Jay Electronica, Michael B. Jordan (he’ll always be young Wallace from The Wire), Terrance J, and Philly legends Freeway, and the Young Gunz. Khaled’s set closed with him snapping the crowd and telling us about “them” (whoever “they” are).
This is where things got…interesting. After Khaled finished his set I stayed to get a good spot for Chance, foregoing the option to see Desiigner (I’m good on him). The only problem with me staying for a better position is that, well, everybody had the same idea. So, for roughly thirty minutes people yelled at each other, pushed and shoved, some people – claustrophobic – couldn’t take it. There’s no turning back at this point, it was hot, and I was thirsty, but I was committed to getting a good spot. Night finally fell, and Chance took the stage backed by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. With much energy Chance bounced around the stage, dancing, running and flailing. Then it happened, the reason all that waiting became worth it: over the music, I could hear the crowd near me start to roar. Unfortunately I’m either the same height, or shorter than the people I’m standing near, so I’m on my tippy toes trying to see the what’s the fuss. I finally hear someone say “That’s Beyoncé!” and through a crack in the audience I see Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Malia Obama, Kelly Rowland and Carmelo Anthony walking down the walkway that divided the crowd near the stage. Unbelievable. Back to Chance…
After making her grand entrance, Chance then sang Happy Birthday to his Aunty Yoncé, as she stood behind Jay-Z, blushing. Continuing with his set, Chance performed music from his mixtapes, 10 Day, Acid Rap, and his most recent mixtape, Coloring Book, ending with Blessings, as the crowd sang the lyrics Are You Ready for Your blessings.
Rounding out the festival, the night concluded with Coldplay. With a stage decorated with multi-colored flowers, Coldplay opened with A Head Full of Dreams as lead singer Chris Martin ran onto the stage (looked like he was going to run off the stage). Over the course of their hour set, Coldplay worked through their catalog spanning nearly 20 years playing crowd favorites such as Viva La Vida, Yellow, Speed of Sound, Hymn For The Weekend (everybody thought Beyoncé would sing with them. Sorely mistaken.) and more; and to enhance the performance the band had everyone in the audience white wrist bands that would light up in the night’s sky, synchronized with each song and changing colors.
With 2016 being the final year of a 5-year contract between Budweiser, Live Nation (sponsors of Made In America), and Philadelphia, 2016 could be the final year MIA is held in Philadelphia (they better not go to Brooklyn), but if it is, MIA’s brought a new element, and good, to the city’s rich musical history.