Made in America Festival 2015 Day One: Beyonce, Meek Mill, Vic Mensa & More Heat Up the Stage [EXCLUSIVE]
While many people hit the beach or had cookouts during the Labor Day Weekend, thousands found their way to Philadelphia for the 2015 Made in America festival. Ringing in its fourth year in the City of Brotherly Love, music lovers from all over filled Ben Franklin Parkway for their final tastes of hot weather, a ride on the Vertigo swing and hot performances from their favorite acts.
Dressed in their best patriotic style with endless American flag-inspired outfits, fans were treated to great sets on the main stage, dubbed "the Rocky Stage." Artists such as Vic Mensa, Meek Mill, De La Soul, Earl Sweatshirt, G-Eazy and the day's top headliner Beyonce all delivered fantastic performances.
Here are some key moments from the first day of this year's Made in America festival.
Earl Sweatshirt isn't a stranger to the festival circuit. However, on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 5), fans who've seen the Odd Future member onstage were a little surprised to see him without one signature piece of clothing -- his bucket hat. Despite this, Earl put on an energetic set that included songs from his latest album, I Don't Like S---. Drawing a pretty sizeable crowd at the Liberty Stage, Earl, who was comfortably dressed in a navy-colored T-shirt, shorts, socks and flip flops, hopped around the stage and performed three new tracks for the first time -- "I Be Outside," "Mirror" and "Hell."
Although he made many Odd Future references, it was pro skateboarder Nakel Smith, who with Earl form Hog Slaughta Boyz, and his verse on the track that really grabs you. It wasn't all work and no play for Earl Sweatshirt as the rapper made sure to hit up De La Soul's set. With his friends, he was clearly enjoying the rap veterans' show and was even mouthing the lyrics to their songs.
While we're still awaiting to release of Traffic, Vic Mensa has been garnering a solid following that led him to the Made in America's Rocky Stage. With big names like Beyonce and Meek Mill taking that stage later on that day, you'd think that he would be a little nervous. And if he was, hardly anyone noticed. Hitting the stage hard with "Feel That," the 22-year-old Chicago rhymer hopped around onstage and looked like a bonafide rock star. ""If you made in America forreal, bounce with me," he yelled to the crowd.
While some were very confused by including a snippets of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Nevermind" his set, Mensa never lost their attention. Aside from performing his own songs, he also included little bits of the features he did for others including fellow Chi-City spitter Chance the Rapper's "Cocoa Butter Kisses" and Kanye West's "Wolves," which he sang from the heart with his eyes shut. While performing in 80-plus degree weather, he couldn't help but shed his T-shirt and leather jacket and jumped into the crowd. And although it was a short crowd surf, you could tell that he was proud of that moment.
Finally, Mensa ended his set with "U Mad" that erupted into one big dance party, which he continued with Justine Skye and Santigold as they rode a small golf cart-sized Escalade into the middle of the crowd later that day.
Santigold wasn't scheduled to perform till Sunday (Sept. 6), but the local artist stopped by the festival a day early to film a new video. While we're not sure what song the visual is for, ILoveMakonnen, Justine Skye and Vic Mensa all make cameos in it. While she and her film crew tried to be stealth about it, they quickly caught everyone's attention when she rode through the festival grounds with ILoveMakonnen in a golf cart sized-Escalade. Before Justine Skye and Vic Mensa join in, Santigold has a brief catch up with Kelly Rowland, who showed up to support Beyonce. After a quick hug, Santigold went back to work.
Since revealing that he's no longer a kid pop star, Nick Jonas has been working hard at making the crossover to R&B. And he showed that in his Made in America debut. While there was clearly still a fanatical vibe around the whole set with all the girls who were screaming at eardrum-shattering levels, Nick made a strong effort to not only show his vocal strengths and even a little swag. Aside from performing singles like "Chains" and his latest, "Levels," Nick also sang a little bit of "Good Thing" his collaboration with Sage the Gemini. He also did a number of covers including Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison," OutKast's "Roses" and the Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face." Speaking of which, the Toronto crooner is headlining day 2 of the festival on Sunday (Sept. 6).
De La Soul were clearly the music veterans of Made in America. But that didn't mean they still couldn't rock a crowd. With the same energy they had in the '80s and '90s, they performed classics like “Me Myself & I,” "Buddy" and “Stakes Is High.” Unlike rappers who tend to go hard onstage, Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo had a laid back air about them that you'd think could make show drag but instead hyped up the crowd. And on top of their history lesson in hip-hop, Maseo also brings his mom out onstage, who blushed as her son introduced her to the thousands of screaming fans in the crowd.
If there's another artist who drew the same kind of fangirl vibe as Nick Jonas did, it was G-Eazy. While we know that the Bay Area rhymer can deliver a strong cypher, it was his boyish good looks and the varsity bomber jacket he wore that got most of the ladies to swoon. He performed upbeat tracks including "Marilyn" and "Monica Lewinsky," which ended with a clip from the anti-cyberbullying speech Monica made at Forbes' 30 Under 30 Summit. He also performed his new track, "Random," which he said would be dropping this week. And if you didn't think he was a baller, G-Eazy ended his set by making it rain.
Meek Mill was one of the most talked about sets at the Made in America festival this year. And after all the hype around rap battle with Drake, some thought he wouldn't deliver on Saturday afternoon (Sept 5). But he proved everyone wrong with a strong set that included "F--- You," "Levels" and "Dreams and Nightmares." "Since this my hometown, I wanna turn this into a house party," he announced before going into "House Party."
And since he was spotted entering backstage with Nicki Minaj, it wasn't too surprising when the two performed "All Eyes on Me." However, the one sweet surprise that Meek had up his sleeve was the moment he brought his son to do a little Whip and Nae Nae to Silento's summer hit. "I promised my son that I would do that tonight," he said as he held his son close. "I would hold it down."
While most of the DJs were playing at the Freedom Stage, Bassnectar was the only spinner to perform on the Liberty Stage. Going on right before Beyonce, he did a set that combined his EDM style with gritty hip-hop beats. And while we were all grooving to it, he surprised everyone by inviting Dead Prez to the stage to perform "Bigger Than Hip Hop."
Let's face it. If you have Beyonce headlining a festival, it isn't going to simply be the basic 10-song set with a decent lighting rig. No, no. If Queen Bey is going to do a show, she'll be doing it right. So as everyone crowded their way toward the Rocky Stage, she give us a taste of what we missed on her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.
With a dark stage, the drama began to build when two figures appeared looking like dolls. And then all of a sudden there would quick spots showing Beyonce's face, making the crowd erupt in cheers. She started her set with the Fifty Shades of Grey rendition of "Crazy in Love," before moving onto the original version. The R&B queen performed more of the big hits from all her extensive music catalog.
With "Ring the Alarm," "Bow Down" and "Diva" being standouts of the set, she also took us back to the Destiny Child-era with "Say My Name" to "Survivor" to the ultimate girls night out track, "Jumpin' Jumpin'." If there was one theme that really stuck out in Beyonce's set it was her unapologetic "girl power" vibe. Sure, most of her songs give props to the ladies, but there was a point where it felt like a women's rights demonstration -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Each part of her set was calculated and planned to the most minute detail, but it also proves why she is a bonafide star.
[gallery galleryid="625:184771" showthumbs="no" enablefullscreen="yes"]