Philadelphia’s mojo, The City Brotherly Love, is a term that ten gets thrown around in mockery today. As the catchphrase the city, it’s looked at as something ironic more ten than ever before. Is it something that’s been lost?
Despite what anyone might tell you, brotherly love is alive and well. If you’re looking for it, just go to festival.
Though it was cloudy walking through this past Labor Day weekend, you could feel that there was a fresh, new brand energy in the air. As each block in the direction the Benjamin Franklin Parkway became more populated, as the bass from the distance got louder and louder, the signature Philadelphia festival energy was back, and in full swing.
Though this is my third year attending Made In America festival, the energy made it feel as if it were the first time. There wasn’t much time between the moment I entered the festival and the moment the rain began, but it almost felt like it was just another part the festival. After all, there’s nothing like watching and friends perform on the rocky steps in the middle your city.
The festival took place in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, with the main stages at the Eakins Oval just beneath the historic . The main stage, visible from pretty much the whole city and appropriately titled the Rocky Stage, was set just beneath those very steps made famous from the 1976 the same name. Hosting Jay-Z, J. Cole, , , and more, the sets this stage alternated with the Liberty stage, placed just across the street. This stage hosted a variety acts, from and to , and closed each night with EDM headliners like and .
Though Kaskade and Marshmello are both seasoned performers, these specific sets had a sort magic to them. As a crossover music festival with acts all sorts in attendance, a large portion the audience is inevitably going to experience something that they’re unfamiliar with. Of course, this was the case. Some people in the crowd were attending with a passion for electronic music, some were coming because they were pulled into it. Some were attending because they know all the songs by each act, and some were coming because, well, why not?
With such a diverse crowd, there’s a magic in knowing that a considerable amount people were hearing tracks as magical as Kaskade’s “,” or Marshmello’s for the first time.
Personally, as a purveyor all things electronic music, I spent most my time at the Freedom Stage. As one the first stages passed when entering the festival, this was a haven for fans house, trap, and general DJ-oriented music. Situated in an area grass just next to the main street concourse, many joined the crowd out pure curiosity.
On day one, ’s mid-day set had accumulated a huge crowd, as visionary mash-ups drew people from all realms. played a crowd-pleasing set straight fire next, despite happening in pouring rain. and Migos were playing at the same time, so I tried to catch parts each set. Migos’ performance started late, but once it started, oh it started. The crowd was absolutely perfect for Migos, as reflected in the through-the-ro energy. Going into Dirty South’s set, I was excited to hear the progressive euphoria tracks like “,” “,” or “,” but instead found myself listening to a far more tame style progressive house than I had expected. Maybe there was a different vibe in mind, maybe it was the rain, maybe I’m stuck in the past, but either way, none the music that I expected to hear from Dirty South was played.
As the sun set, I had the chance to talk to (interview coming soon) before they headlined the Freedom Stage in a hugely-powerful way. Even though part their set conflicted with Kaskade’s, the guys came through with a home-show performance that left fans in attendance with quite a beautiful memory. Kaskade’s set, not even being absurd, felt like a religious experience. Though a lot the crowd, at least in the area I was in, was not familiar with Kaskade’s music, it was as if I could sense people falling in love with the juxtaposition dreamy ambient sounds and huge EDM. In particular, it was quite a memorable sight to watch a man nearby shed a tear during the last few minutes, when a Kaskade’s “Eyes” and Sebastian Ingrosso’s “Reload” concluded the set. As far as I can tell, it was a tear beauty.
On day two, the sun finally came out, and thank god it did. Medasin started the day f right, vibing the crowd to some compellingly innovative sounds. We sat down just an hour after the set ended, and we talked about everything from production, , UFOs, and more. Midway through, a special appearance from took place, and the conversation which ensued was, well, very memorable to say the least. (Full interview coming soon)
Later in the day, The Chainsmokers played a sunset set at the Rocky Stage, and did quite the job in showing f all they have to fer. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this performance. Would this be a DJ set, or something more along the lines a live band set? This question was answered with a performance , well, both. The set was a balance between the two: Taggart sang/mixed on the CDJs/played guitar, Pall controlled a Porter Robinson-esque rig MIDI controllers, and a third member played live drums. Playing both new and old music, it was so cool to see the duo switch from playing guitar and drums to blasting bass drops and pyrotechnics. Regardless one’s taste for the Chainsmokers’ music, their performance exuded a sense optimism for what the future live performance can hold.
It’s Sunday night, and Marshmello just finished his set, which featured and blew away pretty much everyone in attendance. Next, the man, the myth, the legend himself – Jay Z – took to the main stage at 9:30 p.m. As the man behind the festival, the anticipation for this set was something next-level hype. A mix between new and old, the legendary rapper and entrepreneur finished f the weekend in the best possible way. At one point, Jay-Z stopped the show to sing happy birthday to , who was sitting all the way across the crowd in the elevated VIP bleachers. Just a few minutes after the end his set, as the festival was supposed to end, sounds started playing at the Liberty Stage. Philadelphia native began a surprise set, and Jay-Z joined him on stage. Unfortunately, I tried to beat the rush in leaving the festival and in doing so I missed this performance. I’ve been kicking myself ever since.
At music festivals like Made In America, there’s something to be said for just taking everything in. It’s easy to get caught up in the music, obviously, but great festivals have something extra to fer. Though this phrase gets thrown around a lot, it’s a sense unity in the case Made In America Festival. As the Ron Howard about the music festival explains, this is pretty much the exact reason the festival was made in the first place. All types music, and all types people (mostly dressed in USA colors) come together at Made In America. Not only does this truly bring us together in the name music, but it ultimately bolsters an authentic sense American pride and patriotism that we so desperately need today.
At Made In America, you really feel like you’re a part something. Even though at the end the day it might just be a music festival smack-dab in the middle Philly, there’s a kind love in the air at Made In America that you don’t quite feel anywhere else.
If you’re looking for an example what brotherly love means, Made In America is a great place to find it.
See all our photos from Made In America 2017 .