When the Budweiser Made in America Festival curated by Jay-Z was announced and founded in 2012 there was ample excitement but very few could have predicted what the festival would turn into over the next 5 years. During that time festivals popped up like wildflowers across the country and while many only last a year or two before they downsized or folded Made in America continued to blossom, grow, and expand as each year passed. The anticipation for the line up announcement every summer has become it’s own traditional for music fans here in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and even New York. Each year’s line up has been wonderfully diverse and unique with very few repeats making it on the bill from year to year.
2016 may have been the last of Made in America’s 5-year contract with Philadelphia but it will be shocking if the festival doesn’t return next year as it just had one of it’s best year of performance to dates with talent ranging from the alternative giant Coldplay all the way to the rising stars Lil Uzi Vert and Dorothy. There is no accurate or best way to sum up what took place on the Benjmain Franklin Parkway this year, it is impossible as there is so much to see in such a short amount of time but as with any show there are certainly stand out moments and here are 5 that caught our attention this year in Philadelphia :
Lil Wayne Is Here to Stay
This set stole the show on Saturday despite a scare the night before and early in the morning before the scheduled 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne Collegrove performance. Twitter, TMZ, MTV, and the usual click bate sites were buzzing that Wayne had retired based on a series of tweets that occured late on September 3 but it all turned out to be nothing as Wayne later clarified both on Twitter and on stage. The crowd had rushed the Rocky Stage prior to the performances start and tensions were high when just 2 Chainz appeared on stage at first for about 10 minutes, many feared the rumors were true but after a brief introduction Wayne burst onto the stage and gave the crowd a set to remember. He may have not been the “headliner” that night but he stole the show with the biggest crowd at the Rocky Stage on Saturday and a set full of his classics and new Collegrove material.
EDM Doesn’t Need Pyro to Be Incredible Live (Less is Sometimes More)
Just prior to Rihanna taking the Rocky Stage the Made in America crowds were treated to a stunning performance from Jamie XX, one of the most nontraditional EDM artists around. His music has a very organic flow and his heavy hand as a producer is evident in the sound as well, Jamie XX understands music on a fundamental and technical level that allows his sounds to be monumental in size. Normally an EDM would couple this with over the top production as Martin Garrix did on Sunday with fireworks going off every 30 seconds but Jamie xx bucked this trend and went for a tasteful approach. Fans were treated to a gigantic disco ball, pulsing strobes but always a solid color wash that complimented the music being played. I’ve never seen so much fog and lighting used in the way Jamie xx did which made his set one of the most memorable EDM performances Sight of Sound has ever covered. Martin Garrix don’t get us wrong we loved your set in fireworks but sometimes a subtle more artistic approach gets the job done better!
Philadelphia Loves Their Alternative
Coldplay and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were hands down the two best performers of the festival this year, those are fighting words but listen to why. In a festival line up that was mostly dominated by rap artists these two bands stuck out more than ever because it was a change of pace. Made in America has always been about musical diversity and Edward Sharpe delivered that on the Rocky Stage. Not many people in that ocean of a crowd knew who the band was prior to their set but by the end of the set the band had made a fan out of everyone in attendance. Coldplay had a bar set high by Rihanna the night before but with minimal effort they surpassed the expectations and left Philadelphia on a high note. Even St. Lucia who performed earlier in the day on Sunday brought the same level of passion to their set and raises the questions as to why more alternative didn’t make the line up this year. It could have come down to tour routing and timing but hopefully it makes a triumphant return to the line up in 2017.
All Fans For One and One Fan For All
The Budweiser Made in America Festival is ultimately about one thing; the fans. Year after year thousands flock to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and come together for this festival putting aside their differences to experience the culture. There is no other festival in the world where you can see a Coldplay fan and a Lil Uzi Vert fan sharing a beer and a conversation together. Made in America is about the music sure but for the attendees it is about the experience and no other festival in the area provides what this festival can. Whether you like rock, edm, alternative, rap, pop or anything else under the sun you can find it on the parkway in Philadelphia every labor day weekend. People look out for each other and keep each other safe; sure it gets out of control sometimes but all within reason and for the sake of making memories at Made in America. After 3 years of covering the festival in the row we can say that this was without a doubt the best one yet and it left Sight of Sound hoping to see the Budweiser Made in America Festival return in 2017; we will keep you all informed as we here more about the future of this great festival.