When Jay-Z puts on a festival, he does it right; proving so with the forth annual Budweiser Made In America Festival in Philadelphia. Hand picking the line-up with co-founder Steve Stoute, the annual festival was held Labor Day weekend September 5th and 6th. In the city of brotherly love, the line-up ranged from from hip-hop, rock, EDM, to pop, making sure there was something for everybody to listen to and get excited about. Whether it was Beyonce, Nick Jonas, Halsey, or Bassnectar, music lovers could sit back, listen to music, drink Budweiser, and have an amazing time. Consisting of five stages: The Rocky Stage, The Liberty Stage, The Freedom Stage, The Tidal Stage, and The Skate Park Stage, despite the oppressive heat, and the huge SOLD OUT 70,000+ fans in attendance; day one was ready to be a blast.
The day began with Young Rising Sons on The Liberty Stage who is from right over the bridge in Red Bank, NJ. Vocalist Andy Tongren had the perfect decor added to his microphone stand for this performance decked out with an american flag. Their high energy levels got the crowd moving. They had the crowd on their feet dancing and singing along to their Indie Pop Rock sound keeping them alive by yelling “What’s Up Philadelphia?” in which the crowd responded very well too.
Beginning the day over on the Rocky Stage was a band from Derby, England called, The Struts. We soon discovered that there is one thing that sets The Struts apart from any other band that I have seen perform live before, and that is their undeniably electric stage presence. Within moments of the band gracing the stage, everyone in the room was on their feet. Frontman Luke, added a touch of glamour to the festivities; with his wild embellished sparkling shirt. He had more energy and charisma than any lead singer I have ever seen. Everything, from his raw yet rich vocals to his unique dance movements. He had a class that few frontmen are able to possess and it was intoxicating. The rest of the band; Gethin on drums, Jed on bass and Adam on guitar were just as magnetic as their frontman, a rare feat for any band. The Struts performed a collection of infectious and unforgettable tracks, each more powerful than the next. The kind of tracks that grab your attention and forced you to take notice.
Heading back over to the Liberty Stage as Earl Sweatshirt takes the stage. Dressed in black shirt and shorts and high white socks, the lyric poet of the now-disbanded Odd Future hip-hop crew was accompanied by a DJ and hype man as he took his time spitting rhymes over loping, pounding beats. He put on a great performance, premiering three new songs for the crowd, including “I Be Outside,” “Mirror,” and “Hell.” Fans filled the space nearest The Liberty Stage filling the air with clouds of smoke and jamming along to the music.
Vic Mensa then taking control of The Rocky Stage, for his explosive set. Vic being a new artist on the rise, had a great energy about him. Although he’s a newer act, he performed on the Rocky stage and had the crowd jamming out to classics like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in between his originals. On stage he’s a striking presence with his blonde tips and menacing throat tattoo reading “SOUTHSIDE,” Vocally, he had full command, hitting basically all of his lines and making himself heard above the pounding bass. Vic was also one of the few acts who took advantage of the T-shaped main stage setup, which featured a pathway from the stage which separated one side of the audience from the other. He even jumped into the crowd for some brief crowd-surfing, ultimately leaving everyone very impressed with the young performer.
The old-school hip-hop slot at this year’s MIA Festival went to De La Soul, the trio of New York rappers who helped stretch the boundaries of the music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As the late afternoon sun started to set on the red-white-and-blue crowd, the band served up a laid-back vibe on classics like “Me Myself & I” and “Stakes Is High.” They also did their best to direct security to give water to fans smashed onto the barricade in front of the Rocky Stage, who still had a long time to wait for Beyoncé. Nearly 30 years have passed since De La Soul conquered rap radio with hits like “Me Myself and I” and “Buddy,” and the trio has had some time to perfect the art of working a crowd which they did at day 1 of Made In America. G-Eazy conquered over on the Liberty Stage, Keep an eye out for him cause he is going to top the charts with his hits.
The maturing Jonas Brother, Nick Jonas; played all of his currents hits, including “Chains” and “Jealous,” as well as several covers, including a snippet of The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.” But the moment he finally won over the naysayers was during his cover of Outkast’s “Roses,” proving his vocal chops are very impressive. As well as playing his newest hit single Levels, making the crowd go wild. Nick Jonas, currently out on a headlining tour which began 1 day after his MIA Festival Performance, proving himself as a solo artist, as he conquers the current radio station’s in Philadelphia. He came out wearing a leather jacket and shades which neither stayed on long, before throwing his shades off and ripping off his leather jacket exposing just a white t-shirt. For Nick Jonas, a former child star turned male pop singer in his early 20s, redefining yourself as an actually cool adult star is a challenging path, one that doesn’t usually lead to No. 1 singles and national tours. Nick Jonas defied the odds, but not without hard work, perseverance and smarts. Closing the 45-minute set with his smash hit “Jealous,” it was clear Nick Jonas has transcended his Disney past, on his own terms. Nick’s become a star in his own right with the soulful vocals, incredible stage presence, hit singles and loyal fans to prove it.
Philadelphia’s own rapper, Meek Mill up next on the Rocky Main Stage in which he gave many of hometown shoutouts throughout his set, rapping through all of his hits rather quickly. As he quite a special surprise in store for us nearing the end of his set; He brought out his son to dance (Whip & Nae Nae) for the crowd, then bringing out his girlfriend, Nicki Minaj. The crowd erupted into cheers as Nicki walked out onto the stage to perform a duet “All Eyes on You” with Meek. (Watch Nicki & Meek Perform Here: https://youtu.be/pBUXQ4Pu4hk)