To say that the Made in America Festival is nothing but great music, people, and an all-around great time is an understatement. The sold-out venue in the heart of downtown Philadelphia catered to an eclectic group of people and made the experience more than just music and day-drinking. Shutting down Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 5, 2015, and with vendors from all over, the festival packed in music lovers from all over the East Coast to experience the annual event. The crowd was only a reflection of the large variety of artists in the event. Acts like Vic Mensa, Bass Nectar, Nick Jonas, The Struts, Modest Mouse, Earl Sweatshirt, and the show’s headliner, Beyonce, played a part in keeping the crowd’s energy up, and the various vendors made sure to keep goers fed, drunk, hydrated, and happy.
On the humid September day, Independence City blocked off Benjamin Franklin Parkway to cater to the massive crowd. Dressed in their American flag bandanas and paraphernalia, the patrons came in large numbers both to let loose and to let the music take over.
The Made in America media check-in was pretty basic. Members of the press had to show identification, be patted down, and have their bag checked before getting their credentials. The set-up for the media left a little to be desired, but the arctic air conditioning circulating through made a good getaway from the sweltering heat during the hotter temperatures of the day. Upon first entering the site, the Budweiser was flowing and some music was already being played.
Considering that it was a Budweiser event, there was plenty of beer on tap, as well as other vendors giving away goodies for patrons. Though there was no hard liquor anywhere to be found, other than the bottles sneaked in by festival-goers, certain Budweiser stations offered free beer refills on tap. This element made for a nice break from having to spend too much to stay hydrated and allowed for an easy place to get to know random strangers, as people bonded over drinks and music.
The first memorable set of Made in America came from Odd-Future-vet Earl Sweatshirt. The young rapper took to the Liberty Stage for a 45-minute set, which was a mix between his early works and some tracks from his debut, I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside. His energy was high, but by this time the sun was baking the crowd with little relief. It was too hot to be too hyper.
The next act to grab a large following at the Made in America festival was the Chitown native, Mensa. He took the main stage, Rocky Stage, to give a high-energy afternoon performance. Though Mensa’s musical catalogue is not extensive, he still managed to go through his hits, including Down on My Luck, Wimmie Nah, and U Mad, while also delivering some of a new Kanye-West-produced track for the Made in America crowd. Bouncing from hip-hop, dance, electro, and a little bit of rock, the eclectic set definitely reflected his unique persona.
Following Mensa were the hip-hop legends, De La Soul. Taking to the stage to deliver some of their classic joints, like Me, Myself, and I and Ring, Ring, Ring (Ha Ha Hey), and the later hits like Shopping Bags, the set definitely kept the crowd entertained and their energy up. Members Dave, Maseo, and Posdnuous proved that even the older acts still have the capacity to keep Made in America’s crowd of hip-hop’s new generation moving. The vibe, coupled with the abundance of weed smoke and tipsy patrons, made for a great set.
Of course, a Made in America would not be complete without the appearance of Philadelphia’s own Meek Mill. Though the rapper basically embarrassed himself by starting an unnecessary beef with fellow emcee Drake, the love for Mill was still in the audience. The majority of his set was just snippets of his Dreamchasers hits and a little cameo from his son. Mill won over the female onlookers with a surprise appearance from Nicki Minaj and her posse. Considering that Minaj only performed a verse from their joint song, All Eyes on You (featuring Chris Brown), and mimed the rest, it seems her appearance was not planned.
As the sun started to roll behind the clouds and more patrons entered into Made in America, it was clear that if festivalgoers wanted to see a later act, they would have to show up at the stage hours before that act went on. The crowd around the Rocky Stage was already taking over a majority of the area as members of the #Beyhive were waiting for their headlining queen to take the stage. One thing that set Made in America apart from other festivals is the precise time that each act came on and the large screens that showed footage from other stages across the area. If a festivalgoer was stuck waiting for Beyonce’s 10:30 p.m. set, large screens on the side of the stage showed other performances from the Liberty Stage, like Jonas and Bassnectar.
By 10:30 p.m., it seemed that all eyes were on Rocky Stage, waiting to see Beyonce grace the audience with her presence. Promptly starting on time, the Houston native delivered the best set of the night. Her use of an interchangeable wooden-box prop, videos, and flawless choreography were just a small portion of a near-perfect performance.
Starting with a remix of her first solo hit, Crazy in Love, the star quickly sped things up and went through an array of hits, including Halo, Feeling Myself, Drunk in Love, Blow, Partition, Ring The Alarm, and more. Transitioning from the more club-centered tracks to the more romantic ones, like XO, Beyonce remained poised, showing moments of humility as she flashed the audience an adoring smile.
Both girls and guys in the packed audience sang and swayed to every song as Beyonce gave the crowd a show-stopping performance. The Made in America festival was hers as she rocked the stage solo with only her band, props, and dancers as back-up. At times, there were slight hints of a pending wardrobe malfunction, but that situation was easily rectified once Beyonce rocked the stage in a bedazzled Sixers pullover. The hour-long set drew to a conclusion as she thanked her band, fans, and avid supporters.
Day one of the festival drew to a great close. The atmosphere was welcoming, the crowds were not too crazed, no fight was seen, and Beyonce closed out the night with a phenomenal performance.
Opinion by Tyler Cole
Live Nation: Budweiser Made In America Festival 2015
Featured Image Courtesy of Vibe Magazine
Top Article and Second Image Courtesy of Budweiser
Third and Fourth Image Courtesy of Live Nation