COLUMN WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
For Digital First Media
The fourth annual Made in America music festival takes place this weekend on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday and Sunday. Artists from a variety of genres will be spread across five stages each day, and it’s proven so popular that tickets sold out quicker than ever, though late last week organizers announced an expansion of the festival grounds, resulting in an additional 10,000 tickets being made available. For ticket availability, check http://a.madeinamericafest.com. Now the hard part: who do you see once you get inside the gates?
Here, in a special edition of our weekly Seven in Seven, are the acts that you should make every effort to see.
The Struts – Saturday at The Rocky Stage – 2 p.m.
Last week, we pointed out that The Struts are one of the few rock outfits on the docket for the festival, but that’s not the reason to check them out. This Brit four piece are on the fast track to be the clichéd “next big thing,” so it’s best to get in on the ground level before they take the nation by storm. Frontman Luke Spiller has an energy not seen since the early days of Mick Jagger topped with a Freddie Mercury sheen, and the songs are just about as catchy as anything from the last band to generate such a buzz, The Killers.
De La Soul – Saturday at The Rocky Stage – 4:45 p.m.
In 1987, a trio known as De La Soul formed from Long Island, N.Y. roots and changed the landscape of hip-hop as it then existed. For more than 20 years they have rocked out with songs full of inscrutable samplings, whimsically irreverent lyrics, social commentary, light rhythm and laid back rhymes. They have gained respect within and outside the hip-hop community with their contributions to rap, as well as jazz, funk, soul and alternative genres. If you want to see where so many of today’s took their cues from, this is the set to catch.
Death Cab for Cutie – Saturday at The Liberty Stage – 7:30 p.m.
Onetime indie darlings Death Cab for Cutie haven’t been slumbering for too long, having released their eighth album, Kintsugi, this past spring. The critically acclaimed work, which features the hit “Black Sun,” shows that the Washington state outfit hasn’t lost any of what made them so alluring to broken heart clubs around the world. Live, the band are no snooze-fest, and they somehow manage to convey all the emotion wrapped up in their music without it ever becoming boring.
Beyonce – Saturday at The Rocky Stage – 10:30 p.m.
An obvious choice as to who to check out, but still, it deserves mentioning. Beyonce is the type of artist who shines in festival settings with her over the top sets, grand dance numbers and endless list of hits — hits for which have scored her well over a dozen Grammy Awards. The former Destiny’s Child standout has developed a reputation not only as a captivating singer, songwriter and performer, but also as an actress and filmmaker. That certainly can’t hurt in developing theatrics which will have Made in America standing out from the rest.
Santigold – Sunday at The Liberty Stage – 3:45 p.m.
Despite having released just two albums, Santigold has made quite the impact on music with the mega-hits “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Lights Out.” That’s part of what led her to be declared Best Breakthrough Artist by NME in 2008 and Pop Music Vanguard by ASCAP in 2009. She’s also been an in demand talent for other acts, collaborating with artists from Kanye West to the Beastie Boys to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And while her third album is eagerly awaited, it’s onstage where Santigold shines just as bright.
Metric – Sunday at The Rocky Stage – 4:30 p.m.
Canadian export Metric rarely disappoint, and should be in top form as they get ready to release their sixth album, Pagans in Vegas, in late September. Led by frontwoman Emily Haines, the indie-synthpop outfit is a constant breath of fresh air with songs like “Gimme Sympathy,” “Dead Disco” and “Breathing Underwater.” The Made in America Festival is just one of a few appearances the band will make in the States before heading over to Western Europe for much of the fall.
A-Trak – Sunday at the Freedom Stage – 7:15 p.m.
At a time when the DJ sits firmly at the center of popular culture, A-Trak stands out as MVP, the key participant who holds together all facets of the craft. Very few share his mastery of turntablism while also sitting at the forefront of musical innovation, looking keenly to the future with history tucked in his back pocket. A true connector, he hops effortlessly from colossal festival stages to sold-out concert venues and sweaty underground clubs, building links between hip-hop and electronic music while watching genre barriers crumble. If there is only one DJ you catch at Made in America, make it A-Trak.
IF YOU GO
Made In America Festival in Philadelphia takes place Sept. 5 and 6 at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For ticket availability and performer information, check http://a.madeinamericafest.com/
Michael Christopher’s “Seven In Seven” music column appears regularly in Ticket. For more, check www.tickettoentertainment.com