The Made in America Festival Is Going to Be Lame Again

It's a Big Corporate Music Fest, but it doesn't have to feel that way. Here's how to make it fun for Philadelphians.

My friends were so worried I was going to get killed at Made in America. Maybe last year’s 4th of July shooting was fresh in their heads. To me it seemed silly: I had been to plenty of shows on the Parkway without incident, and this was a fenced-in, $100-a-ticket Budweiser Corporate Sellout Tour. The pointman was Jay-Z, a well-respected businessman—a business, man—for two decades. He would make sure nothing bad happened. I’d be way more worried attending an Eagles game. (Who do you trust more: Jay-Z or Jeffrey Lurie? I rest my case.)

The show ended up having 99 problems, but only in the form of a Jay-Z/Pearl Jam duet. (Sorry.) Otherwise: the complaints were minor: It cost the city $500,000, which the promoters covered, while a baseball field was damaged and Parkway residents complained the noise was too loud. Not so trivial, but no great calmity. While these figures are always nebulous, city officials say the concert put $10 million into the city’s economy.

The Made in America Festival returns this year on August  31 and September 1, with the same $100 price tag (for now) for the two-day festival. Jay-Z will headline one night again, KYW 1060 (your source for Jay-Z news!) reports. More of the lineup gets announced at noon today. [Editor’s Note: Find the Made in America 2013 lineup here.]

People care a lot about authenticity in music. We’re not going to get it at Made in America. If you’re looking for something cool and authentic, go to a DIY concert in West Philly. Hell, go to another, cooler festival! The Roots Picnic’s lineup is pretty great this year. The truth is Made in America is always going to be pretty lame. It doesn’t have the cool cachet of the big festivals: Coachella, SXSW, Austin City Limits, Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, Bonaroo are all going to be more respectable than the a big corporate behemoth on the Parkway, designed to deliver music and alcohol to you and money to AB InBev, concert promoters and Jay-Z. The only way this concert could be cool is if it were actually a front for the Illuminati.

But that’s okay! It’s a summer concert with some major headliners in the middle of the street! Eddie Vedder—Pearl Jam was last cool, what, 20 years ago?—marveled it was the first time he’d ever done a show where he could see signs for an interstate highway from the stage. The Parkway’s still a dead zone for Philadelphia residents most of the time, but for concerts and events it is one of the weirdest venues you can imagine. Has Run DMC ever played the Champs-Élysées? Take that, Paris.

Still, while the event went relatively well, obviously there were things that could be improved. I’m sure you have some petty complaints, too, but here are mine:

1. Address neighbor’s complaints. This is Philadelphia. People don’t like change, or new things. (Philadelphia is where people got angry at the removal of a racial slur from a cheesesteak shop’s name.) Last year, the concert was allegedly going to be hidden behind sound-proof walls; it didn’t work.

Look, it’d be nicer if this thing were free. But let’s work in the framework of the corporate Budweiser music fest: If they’re going to fence it off, why not actually figure out a way to make neighbors not complain complain less? Is this really any different than the 4th of July concert and fireworks, other than that there are way fewer people attending?

Fields are going to be damaged during this event with tens of thousands of people trampling over them. Can most of the staging be done on the asphalt of the Parkway rather than grass?

2. More bathrooms. Yes, the only events in Philadelphia with enough bathrooms are half-empty Sixers games. No matter, I’m still going to complain. This is an event that sells $10 beers; Budweiser wants you to drink as many as possible. Put in more portable toilets so I can get rid of that beer before my bladder explodes. Please!

3. A better beer selection. Yes, this is the Budweiser fest. Bud Light is the most popular beer on the planet, and so that’s what’s going to mainly be available. Fine. But if the Phillies and Aramark—two groups not quite known for forward-thinking—can offer dozens of excellent beers at Citizens Bank Park, surely we can get the AB InBev-owned Goose Island at this festival. Hell, look how many brands Budweiser’s parent company owns. At least let me get a Stella Artois or a Hoegaarden. Hell, let’s go crazy and ask for something from Spaten-Franziskaner.

4. Some sort of hologram. I’m going to run this into the ground until it happens. Last year, Coachella had a Tupac hologram. There are so many East Coast rappers deserving of a similar tribute: Biggie, ODB, MCA, maybe even a Jam Master Jay DJ hologram. Why hasn’t this already happened? Why can’t I see a Big L hologram concert at the Troc weekly? Technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

5. Lineup tweaks. The Made in America lineup comes out at noon. Jay-Z is a good start, but I think this show needs a collaboration for the ages. Danger Guerrero on Twitter noticed this 2011 tweet last night, and I believe summer 2013 is the time it needs to happen:

What? Hammer performed with Psy this year! He’ll do this. This pairing might even make this festival cool.