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Five years into the Philadelphia front yard party known as Made in America, the promise and perplexity of this festival showed itself through two days of frenetic music. What united the disparate sets that spanned from deep-trap to popped EDM, was how the five stages were secondary to crowd interaction. Whether it was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (below)watching as Alex Ebert passed beers and the microphone to the front row, or Philly’s own Lil Uzi Vert catapulting himself over, around, and between the crowd all before turning the soundboard into an elevated riser. Who needs a stage when the action was Bill Clinton registering young voters in a Non-Profit Caring Village, or taking a ride in a Budweiser gondola, or dancing with friends as the sun dipped past the stoic griffins above the Art Museum roof. Here’s a few of our favorite moments from 2016, on-stage and off.
Lil Uzi Vert
The man’s energy was outstanding. He jumped off the stage and hopped a 12-foot chain link fence to find his Francisville faithful to join him on “You was Right.” Lil Uzi Vert has urbanized teenage suburbia, and it has made him a millennial rockstar.
With a a red shirt-dress with a deep v-neck, SZA’s outfit owned the crowd. On the front left side, over her heart, were the words “Fuck Trump.” SZA’s voice, soulful and rich, caused fans to break into dance in the middle of the street. As a member of TDE, she brought special guest performer ScHoolboy Q to perform his top single “That Part.” The crowd rushed the stage to sing along.
While only 23 years-old, already nicknamed the “Father of Trapsoul,” Bryson Tiller embodies how fans and critics identify his as a founder of the blending of trap music and R&B. He shared a story about how his closest friend told him it only took one song to make it, and ended that story with the dropping of “Don’t.” The crowd was under his spell and sang along with “Sorry, not Sorry” and “Exchange” as if they had written the songs themselves.
ColleGrove (2Chainz and Lil Wayne)
Expecting just a couple of hits from their collaboration album, the crowd was surprised when each artists started to perform their own solo acts. 2Chainz held all the pure sing alongs on “Love dem Strippers” and “Birthday Song,” but it was Lil Wayne who was the surprise of the night. Wayne crushed “Crazy,” “It’s Me Bitches,” and “HYFR.” And as the crowd became fully turnt up, the duo sensed it was time to combine forces. By the time “Paper Bag Boy,” “Pop That,” and “No Problem” finished, it was clear the festival belonged to these two.
It was something that has never been done before at Made In America: performing on a floating glass bridge that was suspended over the crowd. In keeping with the avoiding the main stage theme, Rihanna sang and danced to “Sex with Me.” Once she made it back on stage, it was a time machine that gave a decade of hits starting with “Umbrella.” She wasn’t shy about letting people know how many songs she’s been featured on, hits like “Run This Town,” and “Take Care.” It was a proper rundown of top-40 hits, and for Rihanna none of it seemed like “Work.”
He truly shared with the world why he is the self proclaimed the “Best to Ever do it” by dropping hit after hit: “I got the Keys,” “For Free,” and “I’m on One.” It was Beyoncй’s birthday so he dropped some jams from “Lemonade” to recognize her. Running back and forth from mixing table to microphone, Khaled was a Tony Robbins of hip hop, baptizing the crowd with his mantra of “All We do is Win.”
Chance The Rapper
An electrifying performer, Chance started by performing tracks from Acid Rap. Proving just how deep their love for Chance, the crowd broke into screams and danced along with “Favorite Song.” Offering his story about coming from Chicago and how he always he knew he would blow up, he transitioned into “Coloring Book,” sharing the stage with Lil Yacthy on “Mixtape.” Slow dances to “Juke Jam” and emphatic bouncing with “All Night” demonstrated the unique versatility of Chance’s songs. And before Coldplay offered their own version of heaven, Chance offered the benediction of “Sunday Candy.” And as Jay and Bey snuggled, we all felt blessed as well.
all photos by Ian Doreian