BEST OF 2016: Made in America

One of our favorite music events in Philly this year was Budweiser’s Made in America Festival. If you missed it the first time around, check out our write-up and photos from the fall!

Over Labor Day Weekend, Budweiser’s Philly music festival Made in America drew crowds, artists, and celebrities to the Benjamin Franklin parkway for its fifth year in 2016. Saturday kicked off the fest, with Rihanna headlining and dozens of artists playing across the 5 stages from 1:15PM to 10:30 at night. One of the five stages, the Skate Stage, was set up adjacent to a skate ramp where skaters performed tricks and jumps during performances. The Rocky Stage, the main stage of the festival, was set up directly in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps (where Rocky himself trained!).

At around 4PM, as the festival grounds began to grow crowded, Cherry Glazerr, a high-school-garage-born rock band from LA took to the Skate Stage to perform a short set. “Trick or Treat Dance Floor” and “Grilled Cheese” were crowd favorites, fittingly accompanied by the sound of polyurethane skateboard wheels on concrete.

At 5:15, Gallant brought his own version of electronic alt-R&B complete with his stunningly glossy falsetto and poignant lyrics to the Skate Stage. In an evocative performance, Gallant almost destroyed one of the mic stands after throwing and kicking it during “Weight in Gold”. His movements around the stage were fiery, impulsive, and affective, adding a new dimension of expression to an already stellar performance.

The Freedom Stage hosted a variety of EDM-style artists throughout the day, featuring Adventure Club, Tchmai, and NVoy in the evening.

Jamie XX performed on the Liberty Stage before Rihanna, his moody ballads and glittery textured synths filling up the space between his towering speakers and the tired and sweaty crowd anxiously awaiting Rihanna. His songs sounded especially full on the massive speakers, from the booming basslines to the melancholy tin of steel drums in “Obvs”. Rusty oranges and deep blues danced across the stage, a light show as carefully choreographed as Rihanna’s upcoming performance, creating a sensory experience that tempted Rihanna fans to linger and watch on their way to the Rocky Stage.

Rihanna’s performance was incredible, living up to every expectation except for one- no surprise appearance from Drake, who had made their relationship public just days before. Emerging from the middle of the crowd on a high platform, she descended to the main stage over the course of three songs on a giant clear bridge rigged (precariously, it seemed to me) with thick wire cords. “I only want you on your phones if you’re taking pictures of me,” she told the crowd, firm and flirtatious. Her vocals were immense, reaching to every end of the massive crowd, and her power ballads were skillfully interspersed with her pulsating soul/R&B jams. Effortlessly seductive, triumphant, and full of swagger, Rihanna delivered a stunning performance that went above and beyond creating a jealousy-inducing snapchat story.


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