Made In America: United & Entertained – Day 2

If you read the first day’s recap, you’d understand that I was still buzzing and still trying to digest exactly what the hell was going on in my head because I couldn’t believe what I witnessed the day before: MMG, G.O.O.D Music, D’Angelo & Jay-Z (just to name a few). It was going to be difficult to top that off on Day 2, but I wasn’t thinking about all of that because there were some great acts lined up for the day, and the order was insane too: Rita Ora, Jill Scott, Run DMC, Odd Future, Drake and then to end the night, the main event of the weekend (for me the main event already happened), Pearl Jam.

The forecast called for rain (which I only discovered upon arriving in Philadelphia) and it was already starting to drizzle as we were leaving the hotel, but no worries, the bus driver told us to go and get some ponchos when we got to the Center City and that wouldn’t be an issue. Little did we know that there wasn’t a convenience store close to the train station – we would’ve had to walk downtown, and that wasn’t a journey worth taking, so we (Amara & I) were just going to see if they sold some at the park (common sense right?).

Today was going to be cooler, because of the cloud cover and light rain (thank goodness, because Day 1 was a scorcher), but when we got to the park at around 1pm, we automatically started asking around for ponchos. We were told that people were walking around selling them, but it wasn’t all that obvious. A bunch of people pointed us in several directions, and basically it was just whatever because we’d eventually find them. It wasn’t as packed as the day before, maybe because of the rain, people wanted to let it die down or maybe weren’t coming until later to see other acts, but I feel like for $153.80, you’d want to take advantage of everything for both days, right? Exactly.

Sprinkles of people

So, opening the day was Roc Nation’s own, Rihanna………I got you there, admit it. No, it was actually Rita Ora, which a lot of people compare to Rihanna based on looks and sound, but just not as…talented? I don’t know what the word is, I don’t listen to Rihanna unless it’s on the radio, and I don’t listen to the radio voluntarily. So, I heard a couple of Rita Ora songs a couple of months back to see what the hype was about, but nothing of interest came to me, but to watch her live to kill some time? Sure why not.

She’s a cutie

She came out to a smaller crowd, and a few people knew the words to her song, but overall her set was alright. I had no idea she was British, but I love her accent. Her music is pop driven and really it wasn’t my spot of tea (Ha!), so me and Amara left, and as we did, she performed a song that Drake had his hand in called ‘R.I.P‘, and that was basically her breakthrough song. That was all fine and dandy, but we weren’t going back to watch the rest of her set. Instead, we were heading over to the Rocky Stage for the first performance over there, which featured the likes of Santigold. Now, I don’t listen to her music, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I also didn’t know that she was from Philadelphia until she told us, but on to the performance.

Funky glasses

She performed a bunch of songs that I didn’t know, but what I did like about her set aside from the colour creativity of her outfit and the band’s, was the choreography of the dancers plus everything else that flowed well with the songs. Santigold has a lot of energy. She showed that off well mixing in some dance moves with her singing as well. She has upbeat songs that are cool, and she had good transitions and even chose a bunch of people from the audience to serve as back up dancers, which was also cool.

Overall it was a good performance, but I still wouldn’t feel motivated to listen to her music. That’s just me. But shout out to her getting exposure on such a major platform.

After the Santigold show, it was time to just walk around and get some refreshments of that sort. We walked over to the little vendor strip and saw the OVO mini shop, and showed some love to the homegrown label. I walked around a bit more, picked up myself a ‘Made In America’ shirt (the choice was difficult, because there was so much selection), and we pretty much walked around until we got to the Liberty Stage and ‘The Hives’ were performing. I’ve only heard their songs from video games (Madden to be exact), but they were rocking the crowd and people were really into it. I’ve been such a skeptic when it comes to Rock & Roll because of the new stuff that’s out – it doesn’t really hold any particular interest to me, but the older stuff is great, although I’m still getting into it.

We were really just killing time until Jill Scott’s performance at the Rocky Stage. I’ve been listening to Jill Scott for years (one of my mother’s favourite artists to play in the house, so of course it was only natural to pick up on) and I was excited to see what she would bring out. I was excited to hear “A Long Walk” live, although she does have many great songs. It seems like the place was more full than it was yesterday because I think more people were anticipating Drake and just wanted a good spot, although you had to consider Run DMC & Pearl Jam fans were also filing in by the hundreds.

Jill came out to a raucous crowd, and she looked absolutely stunning. I always looked her as a gorgeous woman, but since she had lost a lot of weight, she looked even better. She’s been working on a new project, so she went into her newer songs that had a groovy tempo and still had that soulful sound with it.

2 crazy things happened during Jill Scott’s set:

  • First thing, rewinding a bit, before I left the hotel, something told me to bring a Sharpie, because of my experience in Buffalo and meeting Ab-Soul & ScHoolboy Q, I didn’t have a sharpie for autographs, so I didn’t want to make that mistake. Okay, now let’s jump back to the performance.

During Jill’s set, Amara (thank God she’s tiny) turned around, then she turned to me and said “Jordan, Syd the Kid is right behind us.” For those who don’t know who she is, she’s 1/2 of ‘The Internet’ & the DJ/Audio Engineer for Odd Future. Kind of like a big deal. She’s not really people person and she was just with her girlfriend (she’s lesbian, by the way) enjoying the set, and I thought that was pretty cool. I would’ve asked for an autograph, but  a simple handshake and a “nice to meet you” was good enough for me. Amara got a picture of her, and I sort of sneaked one in (she turned her head, so it wasn’t the greatest, but whatever)

Curse you, Budweiser woman *shakes fist*

The 2nd thing that happened was when Jill Scott said “Ladies & Gentlemen please help me welcome, EVE!” And the crowd LOST IT! For one, where THE HELL has she been for the longest time? I knew she was acting, but I really didn’t hear or see anything from her, but I do know that she’s supposed to be making an album that would be coming out this year, but who knows these days? She performed ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’ which was funny because they were playing that song as start-up music before Rita Ora’s set (oh, the foreshadowing).

E-V-E

Eve is still gorgeous, and it would’ve been crazy if she performed ‘Who’s That Girl’ because it would have given me a logical excuse to do the Harlem Shake (Don’t judge me, it’s what I do). Jill & Eve shared a Philly moment with a daps and representing their respective areas of up-bringing, which is cool because no matter where you go, you shouldn’t forget where you come from, unless you have a strong reason to do so. Jill went on to perform the classic hits like ‘The Way’, ‘A Long Walk’, and even ‘He Loves Me’. The crowd was filled with a lot of females and a lot of tears flowed and emotions were struck. The best thing about the whole set was when she started singing in Spanish. I think my heart melted at that point and it was just like ‘UGH…Jill…mi corazon’. Amazing performance by such an amazing singer.

Now, the good thing about the ending of this set was that we didn’t really have to move. Run DMC was after Gary Clark Jr. (whom we saw on Day 1) so we could just stand at our spot and chit-chat with the other festival goers. One of the people we talked to was a woman named Jasmine (hopefully that’s how you spell her name, because let’s be honest – there’s like 10 ways to do it), and I would say that she was around our age, and her main concern was getting close for Drake’s performance. See, I didn’t know that American girls went crazy for Drake like that, but that’s what Amara told me, and I had to really see it to believe it. She came with a bunch of people from Connecticut, but she’s originally from California (never met a Cali girl before). She was really funny, and it was cool to just interact with other people who were around us too (many people still went wide-eyed when we told them that we came from Toronto). It was all about the uniting of people for this event. It wasn’t just something that only local people were designated to enjoy – it was a union of people all over to enjoy. It was a beautiful thing.

RANDOM! Out of nowhere, while we’re waiting for Run DMC to set up for their set, all I started too hear were cheers and screams and whatever. Then I started to see camera operators and security like someone important was walking through. Wouldn’t you know that Jay-Z & Beyonce were walking literally a few feet in front of us towards the VIP area. I got the best picture I could because I didn’t realize it was them until afterwards.

You can see Beyonce’s hair and Jay’s bald head. That’s the best i could do for ya, people.

I didn’t grow up listening to Run DMC in either my mother’s or father’s household, but I knew of their importance in not only hip hop but also the black culture when it came to music innovation and urban fashion. They were the originators of what we (the youth) call ‘Swag’, and it was amazing to see them in concert. They had a thunderous performance with booming speakers & 2 live DJs, basically bringing back the aura of a classic hip hop show. Reverend Run & DMC are in their 40s, but they still have great energy to rock the crowd.

Rest in Peace, Jam Master Jay

One cool thing that happened during this set was the fact that they brought out Jam Master Jay’s sons (both are DJs) and allowed them to spin for the crowd. JMJ’s Son & Dasmatic (their DJ names respectively) aren’t bad, and it’s great that they’re carrying on their father’s legacy by DJing. It was great to see, and hopefully they’ll have thriving careers.

Dasmatic
JMJ’s Son

Is it bad that the only song I know (aside from Christmas in Hollis) is ‘Walk This Way’? Yes? Well, like I said, I didn’t listen to them, so I wouldn’t be expected to know their music like that. Wu Tang on the other hand…but overall, for pioneers of the rap game, they had great energy (especially DMC rocking with the crowd and all of that good stuff) and people were really enjoying the vibe. People even took off their Adidas shoes and held them int he air when ‘My Adidas’ was being performed. Music really is more than just noise & words layered over each other – it’s a part of people’s lives and they cherish it. It was evident that even generations of hip hop-ians from different races and cultures could come together and be united like that. Run DMC was the first group to really break the barrier and bridge the gap between black & white for rap music, and it showed on this day. Great performance, and it was amazing to see the legends up close and personal.

The Run DMC set started off a chain of events that would have Amara & I running back and forth between the stages. The difficult thing about being close to the front was that we had to basically bob and weave our way through the crowd and literally run to the other stage where Taco had already started off the set by playing some trap music (customary start to Odd Future shows – I saw them Halloween 2011 in Toronto).

Taco & Syd often switch DJing roles

The thing that many people must know before going to an Odd Future show is that their fans are probably the craziest rambunctious set of fans ever. Their a rap group, but their fans act like it’s a death metal rock band. Crowd surfing, mosh pits, brawls all over the place. Think of a Soca fete minus the paint & dancing with other females and you got that. It’s a zoo, it’s a mad house, but it’s one of those things you have to experience at least once.

 When the set started and Domo Genesis came out to perform ‘Bitches’ from their most recent group mixtape (OF Tape Vol. 2), Amara & I were in the middle of the crowd, but slowly were moving forward because of the little pushing and shoving that was  going on, but that didn’t escalate as of yet. Hodgy Beats (the group’s eye candy for the females) came out afterwards to start off his verse since it was a song that they do together. But, everyone was anticipating the leader of the pack, Tyler, The Creator. He walked on stage casually having all of his eccentricities that make him who he is – the lovable vulgar asshole. These kids are energetic, weird, but they all bring a powerful dynamic that seems to make the crowd go absolutely insane. It’s amazing.

Mike G shortly entered the stage to perform his song from the album as well. From the album, they performed: Bitches, Ned Flander, Forest, Rella, and Sam (Is Dead). They got the crowd into a frenzy and Amara & I were able to use that to our advantage to get to the front of the crowd.

During the set, each one of the members got their own chance to perform tracks from their individual projects (or just older songs from older group mixtapes):
Domo – Rolling Papers (with Tyler) & Elimination Chamber (from No Idols)
Mike G – Everything That’s Yours (which featured a bunch of two stepping and off-key singing by the rest of the members, which was truly hilarious)
MellowHype – Fuck Police (from Blackendwhite)
Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers, Radicals, French (Bastard), Sandwitches, and a new song from his album that isn’t done yet but it got the crowd AMPED!

Tyler, The Creator

If you follow Odd Future, you would know that there was a mystique surrounding the group because of one missing member, Earl Sweatshirt. He’d been sent to a reform school in Samoa because of his behaviour in school and it was quite the story that even the likes of the New York Times was fascinated by. Earl came back in about February, and since then he’s been really keeping to himself but has had features on other Odd Future projects (Super Rich Kids on Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange & A couple of verses on Domo Genesis’ No Idols). We don’t know if he’s working on another album or mixtape, but hopefully we get some new music from him soon. The point is that he’s only done 4 shows ever prior to Made In America, and when Odd Future was in Toronto, he wasn’t there, so this would be the first time I’d be seeing him and I was excited about that.

Tyler & Earl have a song called ‘Orange Juice’ which is rapped over Gucci Mane’s ‘Lemonade’ instrumental. So in the beginning of it, people got hype, but then when Earl Sweatshirt appeared on stage, it went crazy as he went into his verse and the crowd of course (as well as myself) rapped along with him

“It’s the rap monger, rap monster, Earl sweat, attack conquer”

Odd Future will always put on a good show because they bring out the energy to keep the crowd going from start to finish. They’re entertaining, they’ll make you laugh and at the next moment, they’ll make you shake your imaginary dreadlocks and feel the need to punch the next person beside you, but…don’t do that. You won’t win. When you’re at their show, you feel like you just want them to keep performing and not end because they have so many songs to go from, and trust me, for only 45 minutes, there’s not a lot that they could have done anyways, but they did the important songs and I was satisfied with that.

It was 7:15…now we had to run from the Liberty Stage to the Rocky Stage and at least try to find a good spot for Drake’s performance. I’d only seen Drake live once, and that was in 2009 when he showed up during Jay-Z’s ‘Blueprint 3 Tour’ (ironically the first concert I ever went to), and performed ‘Successful’ which was a big song since he was riding the wave of ‘So Far Gone’ (in my opinion, his last great project). Drake’s from Toronto, and being from Toronto and seeing him at a show where thousands of people were watching and cheering for him, I did feel a sense of pride, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I still like his music.

Drake came out and had a live band with him. He started off with ‘Lord Knows’ and then went right into ‘Over’, and there was such a quick transition between his songs because he doesn’t have a lot of songs with more than one verse, and it’s so irritating, but I digress, he did bring the energy with him, and what I didn’t realize was just how many people really enjoy his music. Not just black people, but surprisingly, a LOT of white people (not that it matters, I’m just making an observation). He performed songs from his album like: HYFR (Hell Yeah Fuckin’ Right), Take Care (sans Rihanna), Underground Kings, Crew Love, Marvin’s Room – yes, he ACTUALLY did this song as I witnessed couples all over the place making out and singing to each other “fuck that nigga that you love so bad” (mind you, there’s a lot of white people in the crowd, so…) and also he performed ‘Trust Issues’, and honestly, he can’t sing live, and I really don’t know why he performed these songs, but I have to remember…women…love…Drake, so I’ll give him that. He also performed his verse of ‘I’m On One’, and I thought Rick Ross would have come out at some point.

After he was through serenading the crowd and attempting to put the people (maybe just me) to sleep, he addressed the crowd saying that he knows that he didn’t put out an album this year, but he wanted to show the people what he did over the summer, and following that, he brought out 2 Chainz and they performed ‘No Lie’ and that was great, because for the 2nd night in a row, I got to see 2 Chainz perform, and he even performed ‘Spend It’, which was one of his more popular songs, but aside from myself, Amara and other people, not a lot of people around us were hype to see 2 Chainz, but I didn’t care either way.

After that, Drake brought out French Montana to ‘Pop That’ as he performed his verse and then Drake did his (probably Drake’s best verse of the Summer), and afterwards they performed ‘Stay Schemin’, which  Drake also performed his solid verse that included the infamous line ‘BITCH YOU WASN’T WITH ME SHOOTIN’ IN THE GYYYMMMM!’ That was pretty cool to hear thousands of people say that in unison.

HAAAAAAAAAAA (French Montana’s signature ad-lib, not to be confused with Kanye West’s ‘HAAAAAAAHN’ ad-lib)

Drake is known for being a humble guy and showing love for his city, we all get that, and I even get into little spats about him not representing the city all the time and people say that he does. Now, I get that he’s in Philadelphia and he wants to show love to Philly and all of that, I get it, but when you say “if it wasn’t for Philly, I wouldn’t be here” like Toronto wasn’t your main fan base in the beginning, come on man, at least throw us a shout out, and there were a bunch of people from Toronto that made the long trek over to Philly, so that was one of the few things that I was like “really, Aubrey?” aside from the singing. He’s alright as a performer. If I actually liked a majority of the songs he performed, I would have liked his set overall, but it wasn’t all that impressive for me (Read my review of Take Care to get my thoughts on that album). He still did his thing, and I was amazed to see all of those people in awe and support of this kid from Forrest Hill.

That was basically the end of the major acts that I wanted to see for Made In America, because I didn’t know a whole lot about Pearl Jam, and I doubt that we were going to stay for the full 2 hour set. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who were leaving and filing in when Drake’s set was over, it was pretty crazy that so many people were coming strictly for Pearl Jam, but that was already expected, so me & Amara decided to get some Soul food and Ice Water (it’s like…a gelato with no cream). Pearl Jam was starting up as we were walking around and looking at the mural wall by the OVO vendor shop, and it was pretty awesome.

I could hear Pearl Jam starting in the distance, and we walked around for a bit and they got a few songs in before we found a spot to stand in the back where we could watch one of the big screens that was showing the performance. I don’t know one Pearl Jam song, but I did enjoy their music so far. Classic Rock music is so chill and they had a lot of heartfelt things to say. The Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder spoke on his past shows in Philadelphia & what it means to be apart of ‘Made In America’ while speaking on other topics like the Government, the election, and jobs for the people here (similar to President Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech). It was great to hear how the American people felt about their country IN their country (Canadian acts don’t really speak on the government and other issues like that, so it’s cool to hear it somewhere where they at least vocally care…just saying).

Grande Finale…Pearl Jam

The rain started to come down, and it seemed metaphoric & dramatic as an end to the great day and the amazing weekend that was ‘Made In America’. We walked around a bit more and really sat down to reflect on what we’d seen and just how fortunate we were to be at that event.

It really has nothing to do about being lucky, it’s just about having that decision to make a choice about what you want to do. Sometimes, you just have to take a trip or go on an adventure because you really don’t know who you’ll meet along the way. I learn that everyday, and this was just another example of that theory. Made In America was more than just a music festival, but it was more like a bringing of people who wouldn’t really be in one place at the same time. You had rock, hip hop, punk, techno, and indie bands in one place just entertaining the people and unifying them through music. You had vendors, video booths, art displays, and photo booths to capture the essence of the festival and to cherish memories. Of course the place was too big to really see everything, but I know for a fact that this won’t be the only festival, and I can see it running for many years to come because the amount of acts are pretty much endless at this point. To see who’ll be there next year is in great anticipation. I was glad to see artists that I grew up listening to, who I’m currently listening to, and will start listening to. I got a mix of everything and a taste of what’s to come in the future. Exposure to the things that you’re not familiar with helps you grow as an individual, and these festivals help the cause. Jay-Z is a great man for making this, and how he’ll improve next year with the acts, we can only imagine, but maybe next year, I’ll be writing about more experiences as well as sharing my own story of how I enjoyed this festival, because I know that whatever newcomers Made In America brings, they’ll have the same emotion that I was feeling at the time when I was witnessing it. Until then, thank you for reading the recaps of Made In America, I know they’re long, but again, it’s just a glimpse of how you can create your own paths and take some cool journeys in your life to share memories for years later. This is one of them.

That’s My Word & It STiXX

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