COLUMN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
It might be the end of summer this weekend, but don’t fret about shorter days and the foliage changing colors just yet — it’s not over until one last bang up of a music festival, Budweiser’s Made in America, which takes place Saturday and Sunday on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Tickets sold out faster than ever before in the festival’s four-year history, so late last week, the city of Philadelphia did the right thing and announced the expansion of the festival site in partnership with Budweiser, Live Nation and Roc Nation, allowing for the addition of 10,000 tickets per day.
That’s good news for music fans, not so good for people who don’t like traffic.
After the inaugural two-day music festival in 2012, Mayor Michael A. Nutter revealed that the event generated at least $10 million in economic impact for the city’s economy. The Jay-Z-curated fest took it one step further last year, holding a concurrent event in Los Angeles. For whatever reason, that plan has been shelved this time around, putting the focus solely on Philly.
Featuring artists from megastar Beyoncé to Canadian indie synthpop outfit Metric to U.K. rock ’n’ roll upstarts The Struts, there is something for everyone’s musical tastes spread across five stages named Rocky, Liberty, Skate, Freedom and Tidal. But before you head down to the Parkway, there are some things you need to know.
Don’t drive. It might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised. The festival grounds are just over a mile from 30th Street Station, so whether you’re coming from the suburbs, over the bridge or even out of state, that’s the hub you want to target. Trying to navigate around the tens of thousands expected is not a smart thing to do behind the wheel.
If you don’t have a ticket, don’t bother coming. That great idea brewing about hanging outside the gates to hear A-Trak’s DJ set? Forget it. Security will be out in full force to prevent loitering.
Doors open at noon both days of the festival.
There’s a whole list of prohibited items, stuff you aren’t going to get into the event. No glass containers, no drugs, no alcohol, no weapons are the standard that you shouldn’t be considering anyway, but there are some that aren’t as obvious. No bikes, scooters or skateboards. No balls, balloons, laser pointers or Frisbees are allowed. No lawn chairs. No instruments — unless you are a scheduled performer. No flags, banners or signs of any size are permitted.
Backpacks must be smaller than 12-by-12 in size. For water bottles, empty aluminum and factory-sealed bottles up to 1 liter are allowed. There will also be free filtered water service onsite with different stations. Visit the Budweiser Recycling Store or the Make a Plan booth to learn how you can get a free, reusable Budweiser Made in America water bottle.
There will be tons of food and drinks available, though you have to be over 21 to get into the beer garden areas.
All right, so now that all that is out of the way, who to check out? Everyone is going to want to catch the spectacle of Queen Bey on the first night, and you should, too. Her shows are always top notch and the reason why festivals like this exist: The stage needs to be big to support such grandstanding.
If you’re a fan of sing-a-long choruses and loud guitars, absolutely do not miss The Struts. Hyperkinetic frontman Luke Spiller’s antics are reminiscent of a young Mick Jagger, and Spiller looks like a dead ringer for Freddie Mercury.
Legendary hip-hop trio De La Soul will be in attendance. Want to see where today’s biggest acts in the genre learned how to lay it down? Then check out the Long Island rappers currently working on their first album since 2004.
Death Cab for Cutie continues pressing on as one of indie rock’s finest mourners of a broken heart. Brooklyn rapper Fabolous is a veteran hit maker who still exudes a rookie-of-the year swagger. And electronic artist Santigold’s live presence is rivaled only by her hit songs and collaborations with everyone from Drake to the Beastie Boys.
When it comes to newer or smaller acts you may be unfamiliar with, there’s quite a few to catch at least a portion of their set.
Mississippi garage rockers Bass Drum of Death, Pennsylvania’s own Superheaven and indie singer songwriter Sarah Jaffe are three to make time for on Saturday. Nashville alt-rock foursome Bully, Miami hip-hop up-and-comer Bizzy Crook and electronic popsters Lolawolf should all be on the list for Sunday.
And if for some reason you’re unable to attend the festival but still want to see some of the acts, global music and entertainment platform Tidal will exclusively livestream select performances.
Saturday’s streaming acts will be The Struts, Vic Mensa, De La Soul, Meek Mill, Modest Mouse, Beyoncé, Young Rising Sons, Earl Sweatshirt, G-Eazy, Nick Jonas, Death Cab For Cutie, Bassnectar, Bass Drum Of Death, Mike Floss, Sarah Jaffe and Tanlines.
Come Sunday, look for Halsey, Action Bronson, Metric, Big Sean, J. Cole, The Weeknd. Saint Motel, Fabolous, Santigold, Future, Banks, Axwell & Ingrosso, Bizzy Crook, Jidenna, Bully, Twin Peaks, Hippo Campus and Lili K having there sets streamed.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out his blog at our sister publication www.delcotimes.com