By Stephen Kane
The Made in America Festival held on Logan Circle on the Benjamin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art went fantastically well last weekend.
Together, over 40 artists played on four different stages spread with thoughtful precision over spacious grounds containing tents, vendors, craftspeople and much more.
Over 40,000 people celebrated Labor Day weekend with great music and entertainment, and not only locals were drawn to the festival, as many traveled from great distances.
Each act was driven with passion and energy, proving that Made in America has found a stable home and audience in the city of Brotherly Love.
On the Rocky Main Stage, conveniently located in front of the Art Museum, the Liberty Stage, the Freedom Stage and the Skate Park Stage, top notch performances included an electronic DJ, rock group, hip hop artist or singer-songwriter.
The weather was sunny and hot—-a last hurrah for the short but sweet summer of 2013.
The all-star lineup got started at noon on Saturday. The Rocky Main Stage, a giant platform by the steps of the Art Museum, provided large video screens projecting footage from actual performances throughout the festival.
Opening the festival on Saturday were Ohio natives Walk The Moon with great alternative rock.
Next up was Haim, who will be releasing their debut LP “Days Are Gone” on Sept. 30, and who made a delightful appearance on the Liberty Stage.
Local Philly band Restorations then played a set by the Skate Park Stage, which is actually built next to a full-sized half-pipe with professional skateboarders providing enthralling tricks and reaching incredible heights.
London’s heroes Rudimental played a fantastic set on the Freedom Stage, which was cool and more shaded than the other stages. The band had multiple instruments, including a trumpet. Getting the crowd excited and dancing seemed easy for Rudimental—they are no strangers to the art of getting people to groove.
Public Enemy then took the Main Stage and performed with style and grace. Chuck D and Flavor Flav were both on their game and the crowd enjoyed it. An introduction to Public Enemy’s DJ led to an astounding mash up between the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Many Deadmau5 fans were in the crowd at Made In America and for good reason. The electronic artist made people move and dance with undeniable control with playing on the Liberty Stage. Getting the audience in a raving trance was Deadmau5’s specialty, with a masterful light show.
Then it was the time for the act everyone was waiting for—Beyonce took the Main Stage just a bit after 10:30 p.m. on Saturday to the applause of an admiring crowd. She performed for an hour and a half with back-up dancers, intense lights and stage special effects. With elegance, Beyonce made it look easy and performed a fantastic set at Made in America.
On Sunday, the morning seemed even hotter than the day before, but another full day of music lay ahead. Starting the festival on the Main Stage were LA indie-pop group Fitz and the Tantrums playing to an enthusiastic crowd.
Next up were Californian pop-punkers Wavves on the Liberty Stage playing a last-minute set. Nathan Williams of Wavves performed with great vocals and stellar guitar work.
Then the Gaslight Anthem took the Rocky Main Stage for even more classic rock ‘n’ roll.
Robert Delong made his way to the Freedom Stage with an amazing performance, ending his set with a variation of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”
Next on the Skate Park stage were Nashville, Tenn., rockers Diarrhea Planet. With six members of the band and a total of four electric guitars, the wall of sound was incomparable and the energy they emitted was impressive.
Slowly over the past year or so, Diarrhea Planet has become a favorite for the punk rock kids of Philadelphia, and with good reason. They played with epic power, ending the set standing on top of the monitors soloing while other members were shredding guitar in the crowd.
Next on the Skate Park stage was another local band, The Front Bottoms. Playing their pop rock songs about being desolate teenagers, they had the crowd singing along. It was great to see a local artist on stage at such a well put-together festival.
Queens of the Stone Age made their way on the Rocky Main Stage around 7:30 p.m. for some more loud rock ‘n’ roll. Playing with attitude and vicious guitars, lead singer Josh Homme seemed to be having a good time.
Prompting the crowd to “party,” Queens of The Stone Age were an important addition for the festival, providing class-act rock music for all the loud rock fans. Playing new songs off their latest record, Queens of the Stone Age were on point.
Electronic artist Calvin Harris then took the Liberty Stage with an extreme light show and intense music. The crowd was enthralled by song after song in Calvin Harris’ set.
With so many people into electronic music at the festival, Calvin Harris was a must-see. Playing a great mix between dance and dub step, his performance made for a great experience.
Then, as Made in America’s grand finale, Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails played the Rocky Main Stage. Old and new fans alike made their way to the front of the Art Museum to see the iconic and legendary performer and he did not disappoint.
Playing classic favorites as well as new songs from his upcoming record, “Hestitation Marks,” Trent Reznor proved his status as one of the kings of industrial and electronic music. It goes to show that with time comes masterful skill and technique.
The two days of Budweiser’s Made in America festival in Philadelphia went considerably smoothly.
With so much music to see and things to do, the event was top notch. While it may not be as big as Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo just yet, there is certainly room to grow, and it does look promising.
Hats off to Jay-Z for making the Philly festival possible. He deserves credit for sharing such great talent and music, and most of all for supporting artists as well as the audience.
Made in America had a n extremely successful sophomore run, and the annual festival shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.