Beyonce was iconic, as all expected. Phoenix, Empire of the Sun and 2 Chainz ripped up the MIA stages in Philly, too.
At this point, Beyonce coming to town means that those in attendance will witness an excellence exhibition. Last night (Aug. 31) in Philadelphia, Beyonce--currently nearing the finish line of her own tour--headlined the first night of the Budweiser Made in America Festival on the main Rocky stage.
As expected and often chronicled, she was divine. She was a stoic god in heels and thoroughly sequined blazers and catsuits. "Philly, welcome to Made in America," Beyonce greeted early on. " You are now at the Mrs. Carter Show." It was essentially. Dedicated fans there that have seen her Mrs. Carter tour recently all noted that it was nearly an identical take of Carter shows they've seen in the last few months--no added flavor or spins for the festival. Not even hubby JAY Z (Shawn Carter), who kicked off the inaugural MIA last Labor Day weekend. He was watching from the audience.
Still, Beyonce was stellar, performing a set that asserted both power and sensuality. Cuts like "Until the End of Time" came with raining fiery sparks. "Naughty Girl" was spliced with Donna Summer's "Love to Love You, Baby." "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" came with "The Jeffersons'" intro "Movin' On Up." And a cover of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" led to a soaring "Halo" finale. Of course, it was angelic. What else would you expect from a lady nicknamed Beysus? -B.W.
Read up on who else rocked on Saturday.
The L.A. sister trio had a blast on the Liberty stage Saturday afternoon, rocking in black ‘fits and sunglasses. But apparently they were not too pleased with their shoes, requesting that fans toss their kicks to them between songs. "I should have been a wide receiver,” one said after catching and Asics sneaker with one hand. “Seriously.” After the game of catch, another Haim lady asked, "Y’all ready to dance?" Then came “Falling.” Sure enough, the audience got to moving. -B.W.
A$AP Rocky hardly ever disappoints, except for when he's 20-minutes late to his afternoon set as he was yesterday (Aug. 31). When the rapper, donning a Stussy denim jacket and out the box Nike Air Force 1s, finally took the main Rocky stage it took some time to stimulate the crowd. "I ain't got a lot of time so we have to turn shit up," he said. But by the time he hyped fans with five his hits ("Peso," "Purple Swag," "Fuckin' Problems," "Goldie," "Wassup"), A$AP Rocky's slot was over. -E.R.
Emeli Sandé charmed the crowd watching her perform songs off her "Our Version of Events" album ("Next to Me," “Breaking the Law," "Heaven"). The singer-songwriter, in a darling floral jump suit and black converse, kept all eyes on her with her vocal prowess. -E.R.
After A$AP Rocky's lackluster five-song set, 2 Chainz had the pressure to fully represent for rap. The Atlanta native took on the challenge and fully exceeded expectations. Chainz kept the shoulder-to-shoulder packed crowd--some fans on the shoulders of others--live through out the entirety of his 45-minute set on the Liberty stage. He blazed through solo hits ("No Lie, "Riot"), featured verses ("Fuckin' Problems," "R.I.P.") and also performed his latest "#METIME" single, "Netflix," sans Fergie, for the first time. -E.R.
Sandwiched between the visual bombast of Empire of the Sun and deadmau5, Phoenix possessed an almost workmanlike quality during their main stage show on Saturday night as they trucked through the most recent half of their catalog. The Parisian quartet has tweaked its live show ever-so-slightly since its tour supporting "Bankrupt!" began last spring: a short selection of "Too Young" is now included, and more new material, like "SOS in Bel Air" and "Drakkar Noir," was trotted out. But "Entertainment" is still both the righteous set opener as well as the closing reprise, as Thomas Mars fearlessly flops around on the arms of audience members to bring the curtain down. Oh, and "Lisztomania" and "1901" are positioned at opposite ends of the set, and both "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" singles are still undeniable. Sadly, R. Kelly wasn't on hand to present the "Trying To Be Cool" remix with his newfound French pals, but Phoenix didn't need any gimmicks to deliver the best rock performance of the evening. -J.L.
The last time Imagine Dragons played a festival, at last month's Lollapalooza, the band suffered through an unfortunate sound outage that lasted a teeth-clenching 20 minutes. So when their daytime set on the Rocky stage kicked off 10 minutes ahead of schedule, overlapping and clashing with 2 Chainz’s set on the adjacent Liberty Stage, it looked like a similar mini-disaster had occurred. Luckily, the band quickly recovered, and be-mulleted lead singer Dan Reynolds leapt from end to end of the stage in a sweat-drenched frenzy. In introducing breakout single "It's Time," Reynolds enthused, "We’ve been a band for four years, and this was the first song that in our lives that was played on radio. It’s been a crazy year, but we’re still just a bunch of dirty, poor kids.” By the time they got to set closer “Radioactive,” some 20,000 fans were all waving their hands with every beat drop, assuring these “dirty, poor kids” they’d be playing to large crowds for years to come. -A.H.
Empire of the Sun
“Freedom is within you / giving makes us feel good / hello to my people / say hello to the future.” The lyrics to Empire of the Sun’s “Alive” seem custom-built for a festival called Made In America, and the theatrical, Australian dance-rock outfit milked every minute of its slot as the penultimate performers on the Liberty Stage. Proving why they’re one of the most captivating, and often straight-up wacky festival acts on the road anywhere, Empire of the Sun’s head-dressed singer Luke Steele led a rotating lineup of backup dancers who changed costumes for nearly every song, from blue space-alien body suits to red tie-dyed leotards to white swan-like bikinis. Though they’ve yet to have a Hot 100 hit in America, Empire of the Sun showed how they can seamlessly bridge the gap between rock fans and EDM heads by simply being good showmen with full-fledged, glamorous pop songs. -A.H.