Any artist can play a concert. It takes a special kind of artist to curate a festival. It takes something entirely different to shut down one of the most heavily trafficked roadways in the fifth biggest city in the country and set up a gigantic stage with wings coming out the sides. Jay-Zs first annual Made In America Festival took over Philadelphia this past weekend, serving as another glorious manifestation of all the rappers successes over his career. Just when you think he couldn’t climb any higher, he finds a way to take it just a little bit further. I guess thats the difference between being a businessman and a business, man.
As far as location goes, I was a bit skeptical when I first looked at the festival map. There really wasnt going to be a stage right in front of the famous Rocky steps (also known as The Philadelphia Museum of Art) was there? The only address listed for the festival was Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It wasnt actually going to take place on a parkway, was it? As improbable as it might sound on paper, the whole thing came together remarkably well, and perfectly organized. Hova played the role of host to a tee, and easily avoided any first year jitters.
Once accepting the whopping $11 cost for a can of Budweiser, I was able to enjoy one of the more eclectic lineups in this summers festival season. Regardless of personal taste, its pretty damn impressive to be able to pull off scheduling DAngleo, Dirty Projectors, and Skrillex in immediate succession. The only major complaint I can muster has to do with the severe lack of activity-type (read: cheap) options at the festival. Whether it was a $9 order of fries or a trip inside the mobile Roca Wear shop, Made In America was no place to the thin wallet set.
Even the slim to non-existent breaks in between sets didnt prove to be an issue, and I never found myself wanting to push forward or craning my neck for a better view. The sound was not surprisingly geared toward bass-heavy hip-hop, but when has a little teeth rattling ever killed anyone? As far as next year goes, Im not sure that even Jay-Z can pull off something of this scale two years in a row. But then again, it wouldnt be the first time hes done the impossible.
Photography by Michael Zonenashvili.