Made in America: Philly's Popping Summer Music Festival....Yay or Nay??
Labor Day weekend is, for many, a weekend of rest and relaxation. For Philly, however, Labor Day weekend is a weekend filled with music, food, and all the other beauties that festivals bring. It’s a weekend for Made in America, the Jay-Z funded festival filled with dozens of popping DJs, musicians, and bands. For me, it was a weekend of free fun. My friend and I volunteered for a stand at MIA so we got into the festival free of charge. That being said, this review of the festival will be from the perspective of a girl who didn’t pay a dime to get into a festival that costs more than $200.
Day 1 started with my friend and I being lit and excited in an Uber for the upcoming events. Of course, snapchat filters were involved in the making of this video.
Upon arriving to the venue, we got acquainted with the people we’d be working with and learned what we’d be doing for the majority of the day: making and serving drinks. It wasn’t anything extremely exhausting, and truth be told, it was pretty fun! I felt like a true bartender. Our booth was near two stages, so we constantly had a soundtrack playing behind us, but we also got to take breaks to watch performances. Fortunately for us, every performance we saw was spectacular.
Sabrina Claudio was the first performer we saw. Her voice, sultry and smooth, was paired with simple theatrics. She danced around the stage with no additional background performers or dancers—and she actually sounded just as she does on the track (not going to lie, I was actually shocked).
After going back to work, we encountered a literal stampede of kids (most of them couldn’t have been out of high school) running to go see rapper Tekashi69. Yeah, your guess is as good as mine about that one. My friend and I were genuinely confused, especially when we looked up and he was in his underwear. Yes. Shirt off. Boxers on.
One strip of clothing away from being naked. Why? I wish I could say I got it on video, but sadly, we were working and very much in shock.
After Tekashi’s performance, our real adventure started. We took a break from work and took some time to out to get some flicks (and of course, boomerangs) in, see some performances, and play a fun game of festival truth or dare that involved random twerking, conversations with strangers, and dancing with strangers.
After our festival-inspired truth or dare, we saw my favorite performance of the entire festival: Janelle Monae. If you haven’t yet seen Janelle Monae in concert (as I hadn’t before this night), you’re missing out on a true performer. Wow. Already a beautiful and detailed artist, Monae came onto the stage with a thrilling band, great background singers and dancers, and a stage presence that’d probably give your favorite artist a run for their money. A mentee of musical legend, Prince, Janelle Monae gave a riveting performance, complete with both outfit and set changes, that would make the Purple One proud. Guys, I’m still thinking about how amazing this performance was—I damn near lost my voice with this one! She was magnetic. She was charming. But she was also candid about her sexuality and the importance of her concert being a safe space which made the concert even more beautiful. I had video evidence for this one, as it was one of the performances I was on break for, but beware: I’m singing pretty terribly.
After this performance, we saw Philly Native, Meek Mill, get the crowd hype with some classics, and also some relatively new songs. To be honest, by this point my friend and I were exhausted, so we started to leave mid-performance. Unfortunately for us, he played his classic “Dreams and Nightmares,” and we came running back—still exhausted.
The next day we had way more free time to go see the performances we wanted to because our stand was over-booked with volunteers. Lucky us! The first performance we saw was Ty Dolla Sign and again I was surprised he could actually sing in real life! Maybe I just have too little expectations! He was another great performer and was super involved with the crowd. I’m pretty sure he passed both a bottle of Henny and a blunt during his time.
After we were hyped from Ty, we decided to stay in the general area, so we could be in the front to see Daniel Caesar perform (which was actually kind of silly because we were dehydrated and hungry, but, hey, it’s Daniel Caesar!). As I said, we honestly didn’t see any bad performances this weekend, and Caesar was no different. Beautifully simple, yet passionate vocals filled the stage as he belted above us. We unfortunately left before the end of his set because we were extremely hot. And hungry. And thirsty.
Okay, so now, let’s talk about food. During this two-day festival, our main choice of food was dumplings. Partly because dumplings are my favorite things in the world, and partly because the dim sum food truck at the festival was yummy af! When we went out of our comfort zone, however, and tried to get some jerk chicken cheesesteaks (because after all, Philly is home of the Philly Cheesesteak), we were thoroughly disappointed. But I guess that comes with the territory with festivals.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time at the festival and it was a cute—and much needed—weekend vacay, especially with classes just starting. All of the performers I was excited to were phenomenal! But there were definitely some downfalls. First: the festival was filled with high schoolers. And that’s perfectly fine…but it was a little odd to be surrounded by freshmen in high school when I’m a senior in college. The second thing that annoyed me, which is more a personal problem than a problem with the actual event, is everyone, and yes, I mean everyone was wearing the same thing. If I took a shot for every jersey I saw that weekend, I’d have died of alcohol poisoning. My friend and I did find ourselves getting bored when we were waiting for a performer to come on—we even tried to go back to work, but they were already filled with volunteers. Getting to see all of the performers I did was truly worthwhile, and I’ll definitely be volunteering again. But will I pay upward of $200 to come next year? Eh, probably not. I am, however, glad I finally got to experience Made in America, so if you have the funds to go to the festival, you should def come out and see for yourself!
Cover Via Philly Voice