The Budweiser Made in America Festival came to a close for 2014, wrapping up simultaneous festival dates in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles on August 31. The Philly event took place at Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the third consecutive year. Kings of Leon and Pharrell were among roughly two dozen artists that performed across four stages on Sunday.
Saturday's perfect weather gave way to increased heat and humidity. An emergency evacuation was required when severe thunderstorms closed in on the festival grounds just after 6 p.m. Spoon's set was halted a few songs in and the entire festival grounds were efficiently emptied. The festival resumed within 90 minutes after the lightning passed, with Spoon resuming where they had left off.
Other key performances included Grimes, AWOLNATION, rappers YG and Danny Brown, and strong early sets from both Bleachers and Kongos. Throw in Kanye West, The National, Steve Aoki, J. Cole, Chromeo and City and Colour from the previous day and it's no wonder that MiA 2014 drew in excess of 80,000 fans this Labor Day weekend.
Look for Made in America to continue in 2015. Time will tell if the inaugural Los Angeles festival was as successful as Philadelphia, or if there are plans to expand the experience beyond the two cities.
Curated by founding partner Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, the festival benefits the United Way organizations of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and Lancaster County, Penn., and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. The primary goal of Budweiser Made in America is to have a positive impact on the communities involved, with an end-result to positively impact the education, income and health of the most vulnerable and needy citizens in these regions.
Pharrell has the Midas touch, his countless collaborations and production credits have generated a multitude of hits. He hit the crowd with a strong mix of covers, old-school N.E.R.D. hits and a few songs from his recent album, "Girl." From "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky" to "Happy," Pharrell easily demonstrated why he’s back in his groove.
Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon were back in stride after a series of show cancelations on the Mechanical Bull tour were forced upon the band due to drummer Nathan Followill's broken ribs. "Supersoaker," "Temple" and a couple other new songs were nicely mixed into a set that truly spanned their entire six-album catalog. Musically tight, the Followill clan seemed happy to be performing live again.
Complex textured loops ensure each performance by Grimes is an altogether unique experience. Her music is order that borders on chaos that plays tricks with the mind. Focusing mostly on her latest effort, "Visions," Grimes took the crowd to another plane.
Touring on their August 2014 release, "They Want My Soul," Spoon delivered airtight jams, particularly "Rent I Pay" and "Knock Knock Knock" from the latest effort. Hypnotic and manicured, they offered a rousing performance for the main stage crowd. Their set was interrupted with lightning and heavy rains during the first few songs as the festival grounds were evacuated for safety. They came back without missing a beat shortly after the grounds reopened.
Addictive electronic hooks are AWOLNATION's strong point. They performed on Sunday at Made In America, rocking the main stage between YG and Spoon. Frontman Aaron Bruno's screams and driven riffs quickly separated their set from from the rest in terms of pure sonic energy. Yes, there was a rock band at MIA and they delivered.
Hailing from Compton, Keenon Jackson (aka YG) was one of the few artists that performed on both coasts during Made In America 2014. Drawing a fan base from his early internet “mixtapes,” Highlights included the angst-wridden “ Bicken Back Being Bool” and the smooth “Who Do You Love?”
Bleachers, the side project from Jack Antonoff of Fun. has generated some buzz. His first single, “I Wanna Get Better,” hit #1 on the Billboard Alternative charts. Antonoff brought high energy to open the Rocky Stage on Sunday, shredding riffs and dragging his mic stand around the stage and he ripped through songs from their debut album, “Strange Desire.”
Kongos, the South African four-piece that features siblings of the same name, have been tearing up the alt-radio airwaves. Strong vocal harmonies and funky grooves are the foundation of catchy songs. There's definitely more to them than radio hits “Come with Me Now” and “I’m Only Joking.” Look for the Kongos brothers to be a household name come 2015. They, along with AWOLNATION, brought solid rock and roll to Philly.