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As thrilling and welcoming as the first day of the Made in America festival was, the second day (September 7) was a completely different experience. Considering that it was Labor Day weekend and the majority of the patrons were off the following Monday, Benjamin Franklin Parkway saw a much larger crowd this go-around. The larger crowd and extreme heat of September 6 made for shorter temperaments in some people, mild crowd fights, more instances of people passing out in the tightly spaced crowds, and stricter security. Even with these coupled setbacks, Made in America Festival Day 2 still brought in great live performances from Jidenna, Bizzy Crook, Future, BANKS, Santigold, and headliner The Weeknd, as well as many more.
Taking from the experience of Made in America Day 1, this time around, it was better to come as early as possible to get close to one of the many stages and experience other vendors the festival had to offer. For media, it was a chance to network with vendors such as Tidal, New Era, Puma, and host Budweiser before their attention was completely distracted from the masses that came pouring in.
As time passed, the sun seemed to get closer to the back of the neck, and the patriotic event patrons rolled in waves to the sold-out festival. It seemed that in a matter of minutes, Benjamin Franklin Parkway went from practically empty in the morning hours to loaded with people looking to partake in what Made in America had to offer. The vendors, goods, and attractions (a carnival lifter ride in the middle of the parkway) had not changed from the day before, but it was new to those who did not make it on September 6. As it should be, the main attractions were the list of new performers on tap for September 7.
The majority of the attention was drawn to the two main stages, Liberty and Rocky Stage, of Made in America. The performer that seem to draw the largest scene in the afternoon was the New York City (NYC) emcee Fabolous. Opening with a hilarious Kevin Hart-featured clip about how Fab should act in Philadelphia, the veteran rapper brought all eyes on him as he walked out. The Holla Back rapper wasted no time in treating the Made in America crowd to tracks from his latest music catalogue (The Young OG Project mixtape). His early performance included Lituation, We Good, and Ball Drop. Then, he quickly transitioned to some throwback songs like Holla Back and Put it in the Bag.
Just when Fab’s set was about to come to a close, he surprised festival-goers with a reunion of Freeway and Yung Gunz. A crowd pleaser and completely unexpected treat that was nothing but gold. The crowd rejoiced and sang along as the rappers went through classics such as What We Do and Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.
Following Fab’s set, the majority of the audience moved over to Rocky Stage to watch the hilarious rapper Action Bronson perform. Others moved on to watch newcomer Jidenna take over Tidal Stage. The Classic Man singer gave a high-energy, crowd-pleasing performance as he danced, rapped, sang, and delivered some new material to the audience. There was even a moment of crowd interaction as one of Jidenna’s hype men went through the front row to pick out some women for a “Yoga Booty” dance contest on stage. Out of the eight patrons, one was the clear winner. Keeping it classy, Jidenna praised and thanked the ladies for being bold enough to come on the stage. The rapper/singer even let the crowd know that, even though the ladies may have been dancing provocatively, there was no need to judge them, dancing is no judgement of character.
Following Jidenn’a set, patrons moved back over to Liberty Stage to catch Philly native Santigold make her appearance. The eclectic singer has been under the radar for some time, but she has not lost any of her uniqueness as demonstrated in her great performance. Bringing along her two militant background dancers, Santigold adorned the crowd with hits such as Disparate Youth and L.E.S. Artistes. With each song, the audience witnessed a costume change. The most interesting of these costumes was a bubble wrap jumpsuit. As the energy started to drain and the sun continued to amp up the temperature, Santigold kept the crowd’s attention by inviting fans to dance with her onstage during Creator. She closed out the set with a surprise joint performance with Canadian artist Makonnen.
As Santigold’s set closed out, crowds rushed to catch Future’s set shortly after. 2015 is one of the best years for the rapper’s career and his following, which is nicknamed #FutureHive. Their influence was in full effect. Although it was 45 minutes between the two sets, the rushing to the stage, heat, and short temperament of many patrons started to get the best of some. A few pushing fights began to break out as Made in America festival-goers tried to make their way through the crowd.
All was not in vain, however, as Future graced the stage and got the crowd hype. Future had plenty of tracks to choose from to keep the crowd entertained, but the singer stuck with a majority of his mixtape singles from Dirty Sprite II and Monster.
Once Future closed out a great set, it seemed the majority of the crowd was back over to Rocky Stage to catch Big Sean. One of the beauties of Made in America was the acts started promptly on time and when each one ended, another great performer took the stage. The only problem in that punctuality was the large audience made it difficult to really get close. Sean’s set was another example of that. Thankfully, the large screens around the stage and great sound system compensated for the missed chance to get close to any of the Made in America stages.
Following Big Sean’s set, J.Cole took to the main stage. Accompanied with only a mic and his band, Cole’s stage presence was enough to keep the attention up and the Made in America crowd entranced. His latest project, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, was the biggest of his career and the first rap album in the last decade to go platinum without any features. There was no surprise that the North Carolina emcee’s set included hits from this project. Cole did not leave out his other hits such as Nobody’s Perfect and In the Morning.
The hour-long set was just another great moment delivered during the Made in America Festival Day 2 and a great lead-in for the closing headliner. As the sun went down and the crowd began to build for The Weeknd, a live stream of Axwell & Ingrosso’s upbeat, a vibrant set kept festival-goers company while they waited.
The night had come, the stage went black, and The Weeknd finally made his much-anticipated appearance. Considering that this latest project Beauty Behind the Madness topped the Billboard charts and he was the closing headliner for Made in America, one could say that Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) was at a career high. The singer rocked the stage solo with a digital, graphic backdrop behind him and fog machines working overtime around him.
The Weeknd had the crowd swaying, dancing, and belting along as he danced across the stage like Kanye West as well as delivered amazing live vocals. Going through the majority of his latest tracks, such as Can’t Feel My Face, the anti-romantic Tell Your Friends, and Often, Tesfaye did not shy away from his original works. He took some time during his set to go back to his House of Balloons/Thursday classics, such as Morning, Wicked Games, and The Zone.
What some thought would have been a relaxing and chill performance was anything but. The Weeknd kept the energy high and even lit the stage up with some pyrotechnics during The Hills. The set was such a great moment that Tesfaye came out to give an encore to the cheering Made in America crowd. He ended the night with some praises, a big “thank you” to the crowd, and some fireworks.
The second day of Made in America may have been a different experience than the previous day, but it was just as great. Although the patrons and security may have been a little bit more aggressive this time around, the acts made up for every low moment.
Opinion By Tyler Cole
Edited By Leigh Haugh
Live Nation: Budweiser Made in America Festival 2015
Featured and Sixth Image Courtesy of Billboard by Kevin Mazur
First and Fourth Image Courtesy of Vibe Magazine
Second Image Courtesy of Idolator
Third Image Courtesy of Saidy Lopez’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Fifth Image Courtesy of City Never Sleeps