Made In America Festival: 10 Things Seen and Heard
BY JESSICA LETKEMANN, ERIKA RAMIREZ AND JASON LIPSHUTZ, PHILADELPHIA
Pearl Jam’s inspired live mashup with Jay-Z brought his inaugural Made In America festival to an unforgettable close in Philadelphia on Sunday night (September 2). The Pearl Jam crowd spontaneously erupted into chants of “Hova! Hova!” as the headlining Seattle band crowned its two-hour set melding its rarely played “W.M.A.” with Jay-Z rapping “99 Problems” over the beat and bassline. On a weekend in which rock and hip-hop may have issued forth from the same platform but not at the same time (Drake and Run-D.M.C. preceded Pearl Jam on the main Rocky stage), and in which collaboration seemed to be the spirit of the festival (Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music with Jay-Z on Saturday, 2 Chainz and French Montana with Drake Sunday), it was Jay’s walk-on during Pearl Jam’s rock workout Sunday that brought together the genres and the diverse crowd.
The two-day festival brought plenty of other great moments to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s three main stages, which on Sunday also featured an early afternoon turn by Rita Ora, a guitar workout from Gary Clark Jr., and a raucous second stage set from Odd Future that had some fans squeezed up front waiting for Drake’s main stage gig wistfully mulling bailing out to go check them out. Perhaps only Jay-Z and Beyonce, who went power-walking around VIP areas and just inside barricades to survey the scene all afternoon, or filmmaker Ron Howard, who ran around the festival with a camera and a big smile making his Made In America doc, could have possibly seen it all. But we sure did try.
– Pearl Jam To Headline Made In America
Here are 10 of the most notable things we witnessed at the Made In America festival this weekend:
1. Pearl Jam and Jay-Z’s excellent “W.M.A./99 Problems” mind-meld Sunday night, which ended with Hova saluting the crowd and hugging Eddie Vedder, and bassist Jeff Ament grinning as hard as a man can possibly grin, was the penultimate song in a 24-song set that thundered from the gate with early favorites “Go” (1993) and “Corduroy” (1994) but swung through tunes from the band’s whole 22-year career and roared with covers that included The Who (“Love Reign O’er Me” in a light rain) and the Clash (“Know Your Rights”). After delving lightly into politics (“I won’t mention any names but… One of the parties wants to make it harder for you to vote. That means that they must think your vote counts if they are trying to keep you from voting. So go out and vote,” ) Vedder gave big thanks to Jay-Z and a laundry list shout-out to the fest’s other performers including Drake (who earlier had profusely asked his crowd to cheer for Pearl Jam). But his most creative name-check was a Ramones-style “Hey Ho, D’Angelo!” at the end of “Daughter.” “Better Man” and “Nothing Man” (1994) and “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town” (1993) elicited the biggest singsongs, but it was the muscular moments, including “Jeremy,” “Do The Evolution,” and “Comatose” (1991, 1998, 2006) that got the crowd leaping up and down. “W.M.A./99 Problems” flowed into an apt cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” that found Vedder running to the extreme ends of the stage to throw tambourines to fans and returning to front center to douse the front rows with the remnants of his bottle of red wine before Stone Gossard and Mike McCready’s squalling guitars hit their final notes and the whole band came to the lip of a stage for a bow.
2. Not all of the action was on stage. The biggest fan at the festival just may have been director Ron Howard, who was spotted here, there and everywhere around the festival happily toting a camera and trying to capture it all for his forthcoming documentary about the festival. Right before Pearl Jam took the stage, Howard was down in the photographer’s pit between stage and the front barricade walking down the line of Pearl Jam fans shaking everyone’s hands.
3. As concertgoers made the rounds on day one of Made in America, rumors spread as to who would Jay-Z bring out during his headlining set. Rihanna? Beyonce? At 9:30 pm Jay took the main stage to put on the best show of the day, and after a special video message from President Barack Obama, Jay blazed through his plethora of hits. An hour into his set, Hov brought out a few unexpected guests: Kanye West and the G.O.O.D. Music crew of Big Sean, Pusha T, Common and 2 Chainz. After capping off the night with their “Watch The Throne” hit “N—as in Paris,” ‘Ye and Jay closed the set with two glasses of champagne and fireworks across the sky.
4. For rock fans wondering where previously announced performer Chris Cornell was on Sunday — the Soundgarden frontman was no longer listed on the main schedule within the festival, with a glaring “TBD” in his presumed time slot — all one had to do was check his Twitter. “Woke up to learn some people fucked up. I pulled out of the MIA Festival 2 weeks ago….” Cornell posted on Wednesday. Still, Made In America found a more than capable replacement on the fly: Gary Clark Jr., the blues-rock virtuoso who performed early on Saturday at the festival, delivered another blistering set to a healthy crowd on Sunday afternoon to become the only non-rapper to grace the MIA stage on both days of the fest.
5. Gray skies cleared up in time for Drake’s set on day two of the fest. In an all-white ensemble, Drake brought out rappers French Montana and 2 Chainz in between delving into his solo hits. Although it lasted only 45 minutes, a few things stood out from Drizzy’s set. Before performing “Crew Love,” Drake shouted out those who brought out their “real friends” and not “fake friends.” Concertgoers then took to Twitter to ask if Drake took shots at Kanye West after he brought out 2 Chainz and said, “Now that’s how you bring out 2 Chainz.” Could Drake have been referring to Saturday night’s all-too-brief 2 Chainz appearance during ‘Ye’s G.O.O.D. Music set? Stay tuned.
6. After Jill Scott brought out another Philadelphia native, Eve, for a joyous rendition of “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” during her Sunday afternoon set, the R&B great welcomed more special guests to Philly venue Union Transfer on Sunday night, at an after-party that benefited her Blues Babe Foundation Scholarship Fund. Drake and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter were among the guests spotted at the dance party, which featured a DJ spinning classic cuts from Prince and Stevie Wonder.
7. Made In America wouldn’t be a Jay-Z-curated festival without an ode to hip-hop legends, and a reunited Run-D.M.C. served as Sunday’s biggest veteran act. With an emotional message written above the stage (Jam Master Jay Forever), Run-D.M.C. delivered their first performance together in 13 years. Joseph Simmons (aka Reverend Run) and Darryl McDaniels (D.M.C.) performed classics like “It’s Tricky,” “Mary Mary” and “My Adidas.” Before closing their show with their anthem “Walk This Way,” sans Aerosmith, Jam Master Jay’s sons, Jason “Jam Master J’Son” Mizell Jr. and TJ “Dasmatic” Mizell, paid tribute to their late father with a DJ set. “We’re dedicating this moment of them scratching to Jam Master Jay,” Rev Run told the crowd.
8. Want to know the difference between Pearl Jam and Bad Boy rapper French Montana? All one had to do was check out their t-shirts on Sunday night. While PJ drummer Matt Cameron complemented Eddie Vedder’s political musings by sporting a “Free Pussy Riot” shirt during the band’s headlining set, Montana offered a more crowd-pleasing choice of attire when he performed “Pop That” during Drake’s set: a white tee with all the members of the Jacksons pictured side-by-side.
9. D’Angelo took a break from touring alongside Mary J. Blige, to bring a taste of R&B to day one of Made in America. The soulful singer spent quality time behind the keys while performing fan favorite “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” and on the forefront of the stage when showing off with guitar riffs. D’Angelo also treated fans to a new song, “Sugar Daddy.”
10. After their respective sets ended on Sunday afternoon, Rita Ora and Santigold were seen palling around in the media tent while Ora waited to talk to various press outlets. Santigold had another friend by her side as she and her entourage strolled through the backstage area of the festival: a large white Doberman, which was practically the size of the two guys costumed as a dancing horse that Santi brought onstage, followed the pop singer everywhere around the grounds.
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