Budweiser’s Made In America Day 2 Recap!

Could day two of Budweiser’s Made In America festival compete with the acts of the previous day including A$AP Rocky, Beyoncé, 2 Chainz, and Imagine Dragons? Indeed it could, and it did. Nine Inch Nails was Sunday’s headliner, but many more highlight performers led the way as they fueled fans with a strong stage presence and anticipated hit songs.

 

Fans filled in Rocky Stage as Fitz and the Tantrums commenced day two. These L.A. natives set the pace for the day with their neo soul and indie pop hits “MoneyGrabber”, “Out of My League”, and their latest, “The Walker”. Powerhouse leads Mike Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs kept up the hype with their chemistry and talent. The set came to an end with a thank you from Fitzpatrick: “Thank you for coming early and braving the sunshine with us. It’s about to get a lot hotter in here.” And oh was he right.

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The next rockers to perform were our neighbors from New Jersey, The Gaslight Anthem. These guys have an authentic sound when playing live and carry a down-to-earth vibe. Maybe it was their denim and t-shirt ensemble, but when they played their fan-favorites “45”, “Howl”, and “Old White Lincoln”, the audience sang along with their favorite jersey boys, making it one of the least pretentious performances of the day.

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Of course, Made In America wouldn’t be such a success without its variety of artists and genres. The festival’s rock out pace shifted as Beyoncé’s little sis Solange turned on the funk at Liberty Stage and performed smooth, soul pop ballads. It wasn’t just her catchy tunes “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Losing You” that grabbed the crowd’s attention, but her cute, hipster style definitely completed her performance.

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Nothing brings about more hip-hop fans than Kendrick Lamar. Obviously the crowd was tight and overflowing at his 4:30 performance, but his energy seriously matched that of his fans. He even held a noise contest with his closing song to see if Philly could hold the title as the loudest city he’s performed for. Was Philly loud? Hell yeah! What else when opening up AND closing with “m.A.A.d City”?

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As the first rapper of the day, Kendrick deserves props for working the crowd, especially with the sun beating straight down. However, once six o’clock rolled around, weed-rapper king himself, Wiz Khalifa dominated Rocky Stage with his carefree attitude and famous hits. “The Thrill”, “Molly”, and “Remember You” all had the crowd throwing their hands up. It was Wiz’s anthems, “Young, Wild, and Free” and “Black and Yellow” that had everyone singing along though. In the end, it’s really his play hard attitude that trumped his set. “I’m a tall, sexy guy who likes the smell of weed and likes to have a good time,” he said during his performance.

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Following Wiz came Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Liberty Stage. The recent VMA performers had high expectations from fans (and myself), but they put on an underwhelming act according to many attendees. “Thrift Shop” was their best crowd-pleaser and “Same Love” was preceded by Macklemore’s political commentary on equal rights and gay marriage. Their set was definitely enjoyable. Unfortunately a lot of EDM fans fled early to go check out Nero at Freedom Stage at 7:30 p.m.

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The British trio Nero apparently has a pretty big fan base here in Philly. Crowds of people rushed over to the stage to watch their killer performance. “Etude” and “Doomsday” were awesome live, especially paired with Nero’s insane light show. Of course their set wouldn’t be complete without playing “Promises”. This seriously catchy mix is highlighted by vocalist Alana Watson’s voice and frequent bass drops. If you’re into Deadmau5 and don’t know who Nero is, well shame on you. Seriously, check these guys out though, they are one of the best EDM groups out there.

 

Nero set up an energetic crowd perfectly for the next EDM act, the one and only Calvin Harris. Many of Calvin’s singles were recent summer hits, which made him one of the best possible matches for Made In America. Being in the audience at his performance is a unifying experience, because everyone knows the songs, everyone dances, and everyone basks in the atmosphere of ecstasy. “I Need Your Love”, “Feel So Close”, “Sweet Nothing”, and “Drinking From the Bottle” were way more mesmerizing live than I figured would be. A+ Calvin, A+.

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After a very long day jam-packed with talent and thrill, the night wasn’t over just yet. Headliner of day two, Nine Inch Nails took Rocky Stage at 9:30 p.m. After almost two decades of leading the way in industrial rock, Trent Reznor brings something reminiscent to the stage, but also a heightened excitement that easily comes with his raging rock anthems. Reznor opened up with his new song “Copy of A”, which delighted fans immediately and transitioned well into the rest of his set. His rendition of his classics, “Wish” and “Head Like a Hole”, makes it obvious that heavy emotion and music will always be connected, and is something that Nine Inch Nails has mastered. Of course, nothing is more heart-wrenching than “Hurt”, which Reznor ended with triumphantly. The stark and eerie but all familiar tune had true fans singing, and wrapped up day two of Made In America with a feeling of accomplishment.

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This year’s Made In America fest was an honest success. Whatever disappointments I was waiting for never came true, and each artist opened me up to love their music. Budweiser and Jay Z make the optimal team for this event, and Rock On Philly hopes to see you there  next year! Stay tuned for Jay Z’s documentary on Made In America, directed by Ron Howard this October on Showtime.

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