HughE Dillon: Made in America
The Budweiser Made in America festival opened in grand style with Gary Clark, Jr. on Saturday and finished on a grand note with a two-hour set by Pearl Jam in the rain Sunday night on the Parkway. Nearly 74,000 people attended the two-day event with no trouble reported. It was one of the most organized, well-run events I have ever attended.
The logistics of the festival grounds were genius, as the two stages for bigger headliners—the Rocky Stage and the Freedom Stage—were within two blocks of each other and staggered so the audience could move from one stage to the other. (Behind me in this shot is the Rocky Stage; across the way, with the American flag, is the Freedom Stage.)
Below: Jill M. Michal, president and CEO, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Jill and her team maintained a table backstage where many of the artists came by and signed merchandise that will be auctioned off to benefit the United Way. Proceeds from Made in America went to benefit the Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey branches of the United Way. A check for $500,000 was presented to them.
Below: Janelle Monáe wore her signature suspenders while performing Saturday, and then she hurried down south to kick off the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.
Below: R&B singer and songwriter D’Angelo leaves his trailer while being filmed by director Ron Howard’s production team. Howard is doing a documentary on the whole weekend. Although I didn’t see Opie personally, I hear he was everywhere, directing, running the cameras, and enjoying downtime with Jay-Z backstage.
There was plenty to do on the festival grounds: delicious food to eat, a DJ Tent that was as large as a football field and packed, Made in America merchandise to buy (anything with a USA flag was popular), promotional tents, a “Cause Village,” which housed various charity booths, an Arts and Culture Village, Budweiser beer-tasting tents … and did I mention more than 30 acts performing on three stages?
I had tweeted on Friday that I thought Kanye West would perform at the event as I heard a few of the songs that he and Jay-Z collaborated on rehearsed that evening. Sure enough shortly before Jay-Z took the stage Saturday night, Kanye West and girlfriend Kim Kardashian (in white jacket) arrived in a convoy of police, from the helicopter pad at Penn’s Landing to the top of the Art Museum steps where Jay-Z’s dressing room trailer was located.
Below: Jay-Z performed for nearly an hour. After he finished off his closing set, he told the audience “since you’ve been so good to me I’m gonna be good to you.” Then Pusha T took the stage to kickstart a full GOOD Music set, with the “I Don’t Like” remix with Kanye West.
Below: During the Jay-Z performance, I spotted Beyonce watching from the wings. I didn’t see Kim Kardashian, fueling the rumors that maybe the two really don’t get along. Maybe she was back in the trailer eating Starr Catering while watching the livestream with her BFF Jonathan Cheban, who accompanied her to Philadelphia. It was reported that shortly after the concert ended, the trio headed back to NYC, while Jay-Z and pals partied backstage till nearly 1 a.m.
Below: Philadelphia’s own Jill Scott took to the stage on the second day looking radiant. At one point, she welcomed everyone to Made in America and told how she was made “in North Philadelphia,” then at Pierce Elementary, then Girls High, then at Temple University, and in the streets. During her set, she brought Philadelphia-native and rapper Eve on stage. They performed “Let Me Blow Your Mind” together. Later that evening, Jill Scott hosted a party at Union Transfer. “Jill’s Joint” benefited her Blues Babe Foundation, with special guests DJ Aktive, DJ Afrodjiak and a few other friends.
Below: One of the most anticipated acts to perform at Made in America Festival had to be Run DMC, who performed for the first time in more than a decade. The group broke up when bandmate Jay Master Mix was killed in 2002. The duo paid tribute to him on Sunday, bringing up Jay’s sons T.J. and Jam Master J’Son, who performed “some beats.”
Below: Watching the Run DMC reunion from the wings were Vanessa, Russy and Angela Simmons. Others spotted in the crowd were Jaden Smith, Emmy Rossum, and Fab Five Freddy. Plus, Jen Carroll tells me she spotted Chaz Bono in the VIP section.
Below: When Beyonce and Jay-Z weren’t watching the musical acts from the VIP section, she was hanging out with his new protege Rita Ora (left). The Roc Nation newcomer’s debut album, Ora, went number one in the U.K. this week, following a number one with her “How We Do (Party)” single.
Below: One of the last performances of the festival, was from the sleek, talented Drake, who kicked off his set at 7 p.m., wearing white. In the middle of his set, he brought out a few surprise guests, including 2 Chainz for a version of the summer smash “No Lie.” 2 Chainz then came out on the stage to perform “Spend It,” and minutes after he walked off the stage, Drake introduced French Montana to perform “Pop That.” On Saturday night, Drake was seen in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hanging out with his bud Meek Mill (who had preformed on Saturday with his group, MMG). The duo then headed to McCormick & Schmick’s for dinner.
Pearl Jam packed them in for the final performance of the festival. Despite a light rain, fans enjoyed the two-hour set on the Parkway that brought an end to Made in America. I am already hearing that Jay-Z signed on to do two additional years, and I look forward to next year’s festival, and you should too. Check out PhillyChitChat.com for fashion shots at the festival.