Made In America Festival – Benjamin Franklin Parkway – Philadelphia, PA – September 3 & 4, 2016
Made In America headlined at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for what may be the last time this past labor day weekend. 2016 marked the end of a five-year contract Budweiser had with the city of Philadelphia, leaving whether or not the event will return up for debate. Regardless, more people than ever showed up to attend – over 150,000, beating last year’s high of close to 120,000.
150,000 individuals gathered in one space to celebrate one thing: music. And better yet, it was happening in the city of brotherly love. Walking around the grounds is always a show in of itself, with carnival rides, food trucks, and plenty of alcohol to go around. Ride a wave of eccentric people over that, and you’ve got an intense experience only Made In America can render.
Gates opened at noon, providing the sight of a mini-exodus. Hundreds of people ran for their lives to attain whatever beloved spot they were set on. It wasn’t long before each of the five stages had an audience eager for entertainment. An hour later, the festival was off to a chirpy start. So was a weekend promising of memories.
By 3:00, attendees had enough time to survey the grounds. That meant it was go-time for Philadelphia’s very own Lil Uzi. He spent half his time in the crowd, either climbing something or hopping a fence. The other half was on stage flaunting his signature shimmy. It fulfilled the anticipation of wild acts with impressive speed, and festival goers went ballistic. Philly pride radiated as he acknowledged his fast come up and his appreciation for the city. It was received by a sea of smiles. Bearing the shortest performance to grace Rocky Stage, he ended with fan favorite “Do What I Want” after just 20 minutes.
Shortly after, the ever-so angelic SZA followed up with tracks from her 2014 release Z. SZA, sporting a red blouse that read “Fuck Donald,” engaged in playful banter with the crowd before inviting TDE labelmate Schoolboy Q to perform his hit single “That Part.” No one expected it, but everyone encouraged it. Boos when he left the stage could be heard. Perhaps a full-set from him would have been better, for it took away from SZA’s daintiness played off of in her songs. Their music doesn’t necessarily clash well, but who cared; they were on the same stage together.
Over on the Liberty Stage, A$AP Ferg came out in full-throttle performing trap anthems like “New Level” and “Shabba.” Festival goers of all backgrounds rapped along to each word – the vibe was mob-like. Mosh-pits started almost immediately, and before you knew it he was in the crowd too. He only returned to the top of a speaker to light a blunt… at least he did it with style.
Jay Electronica performed an unscheduled set filling in for Philly rapper Eve, (who in turn was supposed to be filling in for Grimes). In fact, most had no clue he was going to perform. It made for an awesome thrill and feeling of spontaneity. Joining the others, it took a few minutes before he jumped town into the photo pit and proceeded to lay in the crowd – yes, lay. The performance reached its peak when Electronica stood up to invite the audience onstage with him. In my three years of going to MIA, this really topped everything. Hundreds of fans on the second largest stage had never happened before. For the rest of the day, stories about the stage-rush could be heard while weaving in and out of the crowd.
Up next was easily the most anticipated show thus far: Bryson Tiller. A few minutes late to the stage, he opened with most-famous “Don’t.” Fangirls could’ve probably been heard miles away. Tiller continued with hits off his debut album T R A P S O U L, including but not limited to “Exchange,” “Sorry Not Sorry,” and “502 Come Up.”
The most Philly moment of Budweiser’s Made In America Festival occurred when ColleGrove (2 Chainz and Lil Wayne) brought out Freeway. The Philly hip-hop legend performed OG classic “What We Do.” An obvious sense of hometown pride was eminent and every word was rapped by everyone. It was incredible.
Closing the evening with a nearly two hour, high-energy performance was none other than Bad Girl RiRi. Personally, I couldn’t find her for the first 15 minutes of her act until the floating structure in which she was standing literally moved over the crowd onto the stage. Again, something never done before at the festival. 2016 was clearly a year of pushing boundaries, or going out with a bang for MIA Fest. Rihanna sang mostly from her new album Anti, but ultimately spanned her whole career after the 2 hours was over and the clock struck noon.
What I was able to take away from the second day; Made In America brings out the desire for artist to perform their sets in odd and somewhat unsafe places. Travis Scott performed “3005” in the crowd… in a tree above the crowd. It may have been Sunday but the turn up got very real, very fast. Travis Scott had fans in the palm of his hand, taking them to a whole new level of energy.
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros followed, providing the perfect refreshment from a heavy trap-house atmosphere. They even invited a girl on stage to play tambourine with them and the very personal interaction between fan and artist was super cool to see. Sharpe continued down to the pit and crowd for selfies and banter. He radiated good vibes that complimented the hip-hop throw back to come next.
DJ Khaled’s set was geared towards those who were around during hip-hop’s golden era of the 90’s and early 00’s. Mixed in with “All I Do Is Win” was DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat.” Deja vu, and DJ Khaled called on Freeway to join him on stage. Freeway spit “What We Do” another time because Philly really could not get enough. I promise no one complained.
Coldplay wrapped up the evening and the festival with a beautiful display of music and color. A ethereal laser light show illuminated festival goers as the musicians performed “Yellow” and “Hymn For The Weekend.” The performance was a bit shorter than Rihanna’s the previous night, but made up for it in the all-around ensemble. An array of fireworks lit up the cloudy night sky to hues of every color and at last, a final “thank you” was said. The party continued as attendees fled into the night, still high off an adrenaline rush the British Rockers provided.
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 7, 2016.
Photos by Nick Bergmann © 2016.
Rihanna and Coldplay photos courtesy of Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Anheiser Busch © 2016