As rain postponed an hour’s worth of performances at day two of Made in America Philadelphia on Sunday (Aug. 31), the closing day of Los Angeles’ inaugural run was greeted with reliably cloudless sunshine, which Mayor Eric Garcetti will likely be touting when it comes time for renewal talks.
Made In America 2014: The Best From Both Coasts
While L.A. Made in America’s year one didn’t close with an iconic moment akin to Jay Z and Pearl Jam sharing a stage for “99 Problems,” its own historic feat may just be that the festival was pulled off in a matter of months — not the one to two years Garcetti said he originally forecasted in a press conference on Thursday.
Though controversial for neighboring residents, the festival itself was a milestone moment for the revitalized downtown L.A. — if also a sign for further growth, as attendance to be roughly 60 to 70 percent of the park’s 50,000-person capacity.
It was also a major branding coup for Budweiser, as thousands of attendees flaunted red, white and blue gear with no prompting from the brand, and the only on-premise beer limited to Budweiser and the occasional can of Bud Light Lime-A-Rita.
Steve Aoki and Kanye West reprised their closing-headliner duties from the previous night in Philly, but only one delivered a notably different set (hint: not Kanye.) Rita Ora, Classixx, Cypress Hill, Weezer, Juanes, R3hab and John Mayer all turned in notable performances — particularly Mayer, who told the crowd after 90 minutes of blistering guitar playing that he would be checking Twitter for their commentary.
What else went down on day two of Made In America Los Angeles? Read on for Billboard’s minute-by-minute highlights.
3:08 p.m.: Mean Girls’ Karen Smith pipes over the loudspeaker, “You can’t sit with us!” A troupe of back-flipping break dancers hits the stage. Live drums start cascading as a Notorious B.I.G. sample starts to loop, “F— up the party before it even start.” This is how Rita Ora makes an entrance on the Marilyn stage, opening with her 2012 Biggie-sampling “How We Do (Party).”
3:13 p.m.: Tressed in a severe blonde bob and rocking a gold Moschino lock-and-chain necklace, Ora dedicates her song “Roc the Life” to “my Roc Nation family” (Ora was one of Roc Nation’s first label signings), and previews her upcoming second album (first in the U.S.) with a new song, the garage-poppy “Get A Little Closer.” And though she memorably cameoed the day before during Iggy Azalea’s set for their current top 10 “Black Widow,” Ora handles vocal duties on her breakthrough hit solo, with break dancers offering up more acrobatics to fill Iggy’s verses.
3:25 p.m.: Looks like the Calvin Harris ban has been lifted, at least when it comes to Ora’s non-televised performance of her own rising single “I Will Never Let You Down.” Though Ora’s set wraps after just five songs, she shows promise of bigger (and longer) main stage performances in her future.
3:30 p.m.: Classixx tears up the James Dean dance tent, in a scene that looks like a Miami beach party in the middle of downtown L.A. The DJs are perched atop an illuminated DJ booth that flows into the crowd and is backed by Grand Park’s impressive fountains. Festival-goers are flocking to the nearby misting stations, however, as the daytime heat exceeds 80 degrees with a real-feel of more than 90.
4:20 p.m.: Perhaps unintentionally, Cypress Hill chooses 4:20 p.m. as the time to challenge the “drunk side” and the “high side” of the Marilyn stage crowd to a jumping contest of their signature hit “Jump.” B-Real’s high side triumphs.
5:30 p.m.: The perennially ageless Weezer arrives eager to play to a hometown crowd. So much so that Rivers Cuomo appears to have asked his fans to join the band for a beach party in Santa Monica later that night. While tuning up “Island in the Sun,” Cuomo sings an improvised musical invitation: “After the show tonight/we’re all heading down to the beach/light up some bonfires/party all night long/till the morning comes,” he sings. “Just Weezer and 39,000 Weezer fans. Chillin’/just chillin’/ it’s like we’re on an island in the sun…”
6:00 p.m.: Having spent the better part of the last four years off the road, Weezer give the fans what they want with a non-stop stream of hits, from “The Sweater Song” and “Beverly Hills” to “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” and “Pork and Beans.” They pause only to play new single “Back to the Shack,” whose companion album “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” arrives Oct. 7 (its grizzly-bear cover flanked the band’s set.)
7:00 p.m.: With a strong Hispanic turnout at Made in America (upwards of 30 to 40 percent of all attendees), Latin rock star Juanes appears to be the perfect performer to unite the masses at the sunset hour. And the singer, for his part, is up for the challenge. “Fifteen years ago, I moved to Los Angeles to be an artist,” he tells the crowd. “Los Angeles, I love you! This feels like my second home.”
8:25 p.m.: An especially taut Mayer takes the Marilyn stage dressed in geek chic: Buddy Holly glasses, suspenders draped over a vintage white T-shirt, and chinos with pockets that appear to be made out of bear fur. But don’t let the look fool you: Mayer’s inner frat boy is also here. “For the next 26 hours, it still feels like summer to me,” he says. “Tonight is like a Sunday and parties like a Saturday.” And with that, he sings “Who says I can’t get stoned…” and all is well.
8:40 p.m.: Mayer must really be aiming to win over some fans tonight, because he trots out a rare live performance of “No Such Thing.” The familiar hit seems to have done its trick, because Mayer announces immediately afterward, “Good news guys, my nervousness is over.” Mayer hasn’t played a show in over two months since wrapping a European tour, so he appears thrilled to be newly at ease with rocking his body around a guitar in public.
8:47 p.m.: Mayer may have lost his voice for a few months in 2012, but he only strengthened his guitar chops. He gives fan favorite “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” a full-on blues workout, prompting his band to take on different tempos over a nearly eight-minute guitar suite.
8:56 p.m.: Beyonce is on the premises, but she’s nowhere to be found when Mayer sings his acoustic cover of “XO.” The crowd sings back enthusiastically, anyway. “That’s a beautiful song, isn’t it?” Mayer says.
9:17 p.m.: After ripping through Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and his own “Waiting On the World to Change,” Mayer goes for broke on “Gravity,” at one point laying his guitar flat on the floor and playing it almost like he would a piano. The crowd eats it up, particularly four bro’s who’ve scaled the roof of a nearby bus stop just to get a better look at their hero.
Mayer doesn’t seem impressed by their dedication, however. “I play the guitar so that those assholes can’t climb the bus stop,” he says, then adds, “I still need all your attention. I’m too young to quit. I’m gonna go on Twitter after this and see what y’all are saying. ‘You know, I heard some pretty crappy things about this guy, I wanted to see what he’s all about.’”
9:40 p.m.: As Aoki sets up shop for his second Made in America performance in 24 hours, it becomes immediately clear that this won’t be a mere Philly retread. Not only does Bonnie McKee join him two songs in to debut their collaboration from Aoki’s upcoming Neon Future I, the celeb quotient who’ve come to see the superstar DJ reaches deafening highs — Chloe Grace Moretz and Skrillex high-five each other backstage, while Jay Z, Beyonce and Victoria Beckham all take in the party from sidestage.
9:45 p.m.: Native Angeleno Aoki is getting a little verklempt from his current backdrop. “My heart will always stay here. I wanna take a photo with all y’all, this shit is incredible…And give a shout-out to the guy who makes this happen, give some f—–’ love to Mayor Eric Garcetti.” Sure enough, the mayor is on hand to join Aoki, McKee, Machine Gun Kelly and a few friends for a stage selfie.
10:15 p.m.: After a blistering set from Aoki at Dylan, the park funnels itself over to Marilyn to catch Kanye. Will he bust out any surprises, or fresh rants? Or will he perform an L.A. version of his Philly set, itself a festival-sized sampling of the Yeezus Tour?
10:32 p.m.: With “Black Skinhead,” “I Don’t Like,” “Mercy,” “Too Cold” and “Clique” all performed in the same sequence as the night before, it’s about time for Kanye’s first rant. And sure enough, he interrupts “Clique” to deliver it right on time. “When I see negative headlines in the tabloids all types of crazy things everybody writes on the Internet, and people they wonder how I play all these for 100,000 people? How do I keep on keepin’ shit so real, it might be damaging to my career. To be honest…the thing is for 10 years, man, I had a clique. Everybody that ever supported me, that ever defended me, everybody in the audience right now, I know there’s more people that love me than hate me. And that’s why I can stay here.”
10:56 p.m.: The set progresses like clockwork — “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” a mask-less “New Slaves,” “Power” and an early-in-the-set version of “Blood on the Leaves” all reprise their place from the Philly setlist. And just before “Runaway,” another speech is being cued up. “I’m in a place where I’m living my dream with my wife and my family, everything seems to have worked itself out. So I might as well express myself,” he says. “It’s funny, people try to make it seem like I’m a bad person or something, but I never hurt people, for real. I’m from Chicago, a lot of y’alls from L.A., I ain’t trying to hurt nobody, I’m out here trying to make the best mothaf—–’ music and express my creativity. I ain’t trying to get nobody hurt — not physically, not socially, not verbally, not perception-wise. They got a voice and I got a voice, too. We gotta show everybody we at Roc Nation, we conduct proper business. I think y’all know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. Let’s have a toast…”
And although Kanye had no additional surprises up his sleeve for his last half hour, the rapt attention of the 30,000-plus fans flooding Grand Park seemed more than worthy cause to raise a glass. Nevermind the fact that the Budweiser stopped flowing over an hour ago, to ensure safe exits for all involved.