The name is terrible. The lineup is underwhelming. And it’s going to be the best.
Tickets for the Budweiser Made in America music festival go on sale today at 10 a.m. Pearl Jam is headlining for rock fans and Jay-Z for hip-hop fans. That’s a pretty decent top-two acts, but the bill’s a little disappointingly thin from there: The No. 3 act billed right now is constant Internet punching bag Skrillex.
There’s some decent hip-hop (Rick Ross, Wale and Philly’s about-to-blow-up Meek Mill) and R&B (D’Angelo and Janelle Monae, Frank Ocean if he’s with Odd Future) but the rest of lineup is kind of drab. After Pearl Jam, Riot Fest East (July 19th at the Festival Pier) almost has better name recognition among the rock acts. The hip-hop undercard is better at Roots Picnic (June 2 and 3).
And, um, Questlove said this lineup would “be big enough to rival Philly’s Live Aid from ’85.” Live Aid had Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, surviving members of Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan. Unless X suddenly got bigger than those guys in the last week, it’s hard to make the comparison. And, also, where the fuck are The Hooters? Can we even have a big Philadelphia concert without The Hooters?!
It may not be a Live Aid-sized lineup. But let’s be clear: Who cares! The Roots Picnic is always fun, and now Philadelphia has an even more high-profile festival that the city has to figure out how to completely block off all of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a concert that costs $114 (with fees). The last super-huge festival on the Parkway was Live 8, which also featured Jay-Z (and Will Smith doing the Fresh Prince theme) and went off really well. It’s going to be a bit of a mess, of course, and that’s why this thing is going to be really fun. We should celebrate it, underwhelming lineup and all.
But this is Philadelphia, a city where we love to take stock of our standing constantly. If the Made in America festival is as big as they want it to be, we have to see how it stacks up. Ideally this festival will be better than the other big-name summer festivals. I decided to put it up against Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits (which announced its lineup yesterday) in completely arbitrary categories in order to rig a Philadelphia win.
Made in America: Philly, 2 day, $114
Austin City Limits: Austin, 3 days, $200
Bonnaroo: Manchester, Tenn., 4 days, $259.50
Lollapalooza: Chicago, 3 days, $230
The other festivals are bigger and more expensive, and Bonnaroo shows its roots as a hippie jam band fest by being in the middle of nowhere and having a ton of things to do. (My favorite is the screening of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, Game 6.) There’s more to do in Philly, Austin and Chicago outside, obviously. (To note: Philly’s price rises as more tickets are sold, and apparently cheaper tickets for these other fests could have been had earlier.)
Winner: Bonnaroo is closest to Burning Man, so I guess it wins
Made in America: Pearl Jam, Dirty Projectors, Passion Pit, X
Austin City Limits: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Jack White, The Black Keys
Bonnaroo: Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys (with Brian Wilson and Mike Love!), Phish
Lollapalooza: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Sabbath, Jack White, The Black Keys
Philly has a weak rock lineup after Pearl Jam, but I’m tempted to give Made in America the win just because Philly’s festival is classy enough to admit it is not 1992 and avoid putting the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the bill. (For now, at least.) Of all the old acts at the other festivals, I’ll rank them 1. Beach Boys 2. Neil Young 3. Sabbath.
Winner: Bonnaroo, but if Philly adds, say, Springsteen on night 1 (and not RHCP) it wins
Made in America: Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Odd Future, Meek Mill, Wale
Austin City Limits: The Roots, Big K.R.I.T. Childish Gambino, Die Antwoord (reaching!)
Bonnaroo: The Roots, Ludacris, Black Star, Mac Miller, Childish Gambino
Lollapalooza: J. Cole, Wale, Die Antwoord (again)
Again, at least Philly can be a little snobbish (for now!), avoiding booking festival with Childish Gambino, aka Community actor Donald Glover. Jay-Z is an all-time great and Rick Ross’s fingerprints are on a ton of recent huge hip-hop tracks.
Winner: Made in America, though Black Star and Ludacris is a pretty great lineup
Hip Stuff for the Kids
Made in America: Skrillex, Janelle Monae
Austin City Limits: Gotye, Kimbra
Bonnaroo: Fun., Skrillex
The last two songs to top the Hot 100 are “We Are Young” by Fun. featuring Janelle Monae and “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra. Hey, between them we have them all! Made in America and Bonnaroo also have Skrillex, who gets made fun of so much on Twitter, he must be super-popular!
Winner: Made in America, mainly for Janelle Monae
Made in America: D’Angelo
Austin City Limits: Iggy Pop (& The Stooges)
Bonnaroo: St. Vincent
Lollapalooza: Emily Haines (of Metric)
Do you remember this video?
D’Angelo’s hips look like an action figure’s. Those other candidates up there are just placeholders; D’Angelo would win a “hips” category against anyone but models, ballet dancers and Shakira. It’s been 12 years, so let’s hope D’Angelo has kept in prime physical condition!
Winner: Made in America
Made in America: None?
Austin City Limits: Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Weezer, Rufus Wainwright (his only U.S. festival)
Bonnaroo: The Beach Boys (on their 50th anniversary tour), Danzig Legacy, GZA performing “Liquid Swords”
Lollapalooza: I dunno, Bloc Party’s only playing six U.S. dates this year
During Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s performance at Coachella in April, the pair were joined by a “hologram” (actually a Pepper’s ghost) of Tupac Shakur, rapping right alongside them.
I hope you know what I’m getting at. Bonnaroo wins this category for now, but I’d put the chances of a Notorious B.I.G. hologram showing up at the Made in America festival somewhere around 100 percent. If a huge West Coast festival gets Tupac back, a huge East Coast festival needs to get Biggie back.
Winner: Made in America, because that’s definitely happening
So, there you have it. Five all-important categories and Philly takes three of them, even though the last category should definitely have been awarded to Bonnaroo. Hey, I told you I’d be rigging this! It’s going to be great.