Wednesday, September 4, 2013

{RECAP} made in america festival

I was so excited to go to day one of Made in America Festival this past weekend for so many reasons: I’m not making it to FreeFest this year, seeing Walk the Moon and Imagine Dragons again, maybe figuring out or feeling connected to this new city of mine, and, of course, I had the highest hopes that I would spot Jay-Z (and that he’d come out to sing with Beyonce) and the power couple would ask me to babysit Blue Ivy. While MIA didn’t quite meet all of those expectations, there was still a lot of good -- and a lot of work to be done for it to become a fully functional music festival.

clockwise from top left: walk the moon favies // emeli sande, my newest girl crush // balloons and lights!! // phoenix -- featuring their rafa-lookalike 

Click ahead for the full Made in America recap!

Walk the Moon started off my day, which was, in a word, awesome. Their set was really short, which was such a bummer, but they got so many of TIOJ’s all-time favorites in there, including the always-wonderful “Shiver Shiver.” (The boys were also wandering around during HAIM’s set, so I did get the chance to say hi to Eli. It was not unsimilar to this.)

HAIM was up next, and those girls are just such badasses. Like at Firefly when they borrowed some hats, they were in need of some shoes -- and several audience members obligingly tossed their kicks up on stage. And it was a definite highlight when one of them commented, “There are so many babes in the audience. So hot, Philly -- literally and figuratively.” I really dug their latest single, “The Wire”:

We wandered over to Emeli Sande, and I only knew her radio hit “Next to Me.” Damn. That girl has some pipes on her. She was so sweet and cute and warm, and was genuinely so excited to be singing at Made in America -- which made up for some of the craziness that then ensued. One of my favorites by her was “My Kind of Love.”

Things kind of went downhill from there. Add in thousands of far too drunk 19-year-olds, wayyy too few water stands, and some poor organizational flow, and you have, essentially, a shitshow. Honestly, I expected a little better from Jay-Z. A$AP Rocky, 2Chainz, and Public Enemy all played during this time of mass confusion, and my only takeaway was that Public Enemy donated a lot of money to the Philadelphia school system. The future educator in me was so very happy about this.

The night picked up again during Imagine Dragons. These guys are always so happy to be performing, and their enthusiasm is so infectious. One of my favorite moments, though, was when lead singer Dan Reynolds beatboxed and covered “Hang Me Up to Dry” by the Cold War Kids and segued right into “Stand By Me.” He also took out his earpiece at one point to really hear the audience, and he just looked so so happy. Not to get too sappy, but it’s always so nice to remember that musicians are just normal people doing something they love, and they can be such positive people. And it’s always so weird and cool to see people totally raging out to “Radioactive.”

Before heading over to Empire of the Sun, we befriended a lovely British girl in the bathroom line who was singing AlunaGeorge’s praises. For a minute, I was a little sad I wasn’t going to day two, but that wistfulness didn’t last too long. Empire of the Sun was, as to be expected, so weird and cool and bizarre -- be sure to read our full recap of their 9:30 Club show here.

Phoenix was up next, and their set was honestly the first time in the entire day that it felt like I was at a music festival. They counted off in French and had background video of Paris, which made me so nostalgic for TIOJ’s summer jaunt to Europe. Then, as my brain was getting loopy, I started to wonder why these Frenchies were at Made in America. Their lead singer looks strikingly like Rafael Nadal, though, and he took crowdsurfing to a new level (think crowdswimming), so I was not disappointed.

DeadMau5 was over at the other stage next, but I am very afraid of him, so I did not venture to see him. However, it was during his set that Jay-Z made his only appearance. Bummer.

Beyonce finished out the night with The Mrs. Carter Show. That girl. If I were Jay-Z, I would never do anything wrong because she’s so intimidating but in a great way (I guess her alter-ego is called Sasha Fierce for a reason). I wish I could’ve seen her show at Verizon Center or another similar arena -- the spectacle of it, including the twelve most talented dancers I’ve ever seen, was lost at a festival.

Although the video interludes during Bey’s SIX costume changes were a little remiscent of perfume commercials, she sure knows how to put on a spectacle. She got everyone singing and dancing with her during “Single Ladies” (and believe you me, the dance is even better in person/on a Jumbotron) and my favorite Beyonce song, “Irreplaceable”:

All in all, Made in America has some work to do (a common thread we’re finding for smaller festivals in their second year). I hope the second day was a little more organized and/or sane, but I was actually really glad to not be going back (and when have you ever heard a TIOJ girl say she didn’t want to go to a show?). There were definite high points, but it wasn’t enough to overrun the entire festival experience for me. Here’s hoping that Mr. Carter and Philadelphia figure it out a little more for next year.

Up next! TIOJ interview alumni Sylvan Esso pair up with Justin Vernon's latest project, Volcano Chair -- September 12 at the 9:30 Club!

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