For the sixth straight year, the Budweiser Made In America Festival brought energy and excitement to the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway was the scene for the end-of-summer live music extravaganza, which was held over the weekend (Sept. 1-2).
An onslaught of massive grey clouds threatened to put a damper on Saturday’s (Sept. 1) festivities, but that didn’t stop eager fans from coming out in droves. Many kept with the American motif, sporting red, white and blue attire as they stomped through the mud and grass to see their favorite acts show their stuff.
Post Malone, who closed out the event, proved his rockstar abilities are unmatched thanks to a seasoned stage presence, while Meek Mill’s homecoming performance — where he dubbed his hometown “Meek Millidelphia”– was filled with both rowdiness and retrospect.
Outside of the headliner’s performances, there were plenty of other welcome moments to start the fest off on the right foot. Read on to see what day one of Made In America had to offer concertgoers.
Post Malone’s Energy Heats Up a Brisk Night
If you were ever unsure of Post Malone’s star power, his set to close out the first night of the festival should aid in rectifying that. The undeniable energy he’s known to bring to a stage was present and accounted for, and many of his fans prepared for the big event by perching in grassy and concrete-covered spots hours ahead of time in order to catch a glimpse of the chart-topping musician.
The 23-year-old’s highly-anticipated set on the Rocky Stage kicked off with “Too Young” from his debut album Stoney. The Texas native, adorned in a patriotic-themed graffiti-style suit, performed under canary yellow lighting as the gargantuan crowd crooned along. His smooth vocals echoed over the packed park, as he sang through hits “No Option,” “Better Now” and “Deja Vu.” When coupled with psychedelically-altered video effects, it made for an experience that got the audience incredibly hype.
Ever the Southern gent, Posty also made sure to thank the crowd for their appreciation after each and every song. As evident by the audience’s enthusiasm during “White Iverson,” “Congratulations” and the Billboard number one-hit “Rockstar,” it’s clear that he’ll be gracious for years to come.
Meek Mill’s Homecoming Celebrates His City and His Freedom
In his first performance in his hometown of Philly since returning from jail for a probation violation, Meek Mill made sure to give concertgoers a show they’d never forget.
The “Stay Woke” MC welcomed the crowd to his “House Party,” performing a number of hits from his catalog, like “Monster,” “Issues” and a spirited performance of “Dreams And Nightmares,” where Meek told the crowd he wanted to “wake up” the drowsy inhabitants of the city who lived near the Parkway. He also treated the audience to “1942 Flows” and “We Ball” from his recent album Wins and Losses, and brought out budding MC Tierra Whack, who hails from North Philadelphia, Meek’s neck of the woods .
As expected, Meek’s homecoming set was filled with retrospective moments about his recent incarceration and his journey from the streets to success. He shouted out Roc Nation COO Desiree Perez, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and JAY-Z, citing his appreciation for the “three people dedicated to helping [him] get [his] freedom back.” He also encouraged the crowd to raise their cell phone lights up in order to commemorate the lives lost to the perils of street life and violence.
“If you know someone from the streets…” he said before “We Ball,” “…tell them how much you care… make some noise for the ones we lost…”
Zedd Brings Universal Appeal to the Liberty Stage
Russian-German producer Zedd was the final act to grace the Liberty Stage on Saturday night, and he made sure to play an assortment of hits to get the crowd amped up before Post Malone closed out the night.
The EDM producer proved his musical palate spreads far and wide, playing something for every type of audiophile. His personal spin on tracks like Travis Scott’s “Goosebumps,” The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and the Dua Lipa-assisted Calvin Harris joint “One Kiss” kept the energy up despite the long day winding down.
Of course, Zedd also sifted through his own Rolodex of hits to entertain the fans. The adoration of his songs “Stay” (with Alessia Cara), “Stay The Night” (with Hayley Williams), “Clarity” (with Foxes) and summer anthem “The Middle” (with Maren Morris) was only amplified by picturesque graphics and party-starting pyrotechnics such as fireworks and smoke blasters.
Fat Joe Schools the Youth
With a career spanning over 20 years, the Bronx’s own Fat Joe made sure to show the younger fans in the crowd exactly how it’s done. Hits such as “Lean Back,” “So Excited,” and “All the Way Up” were met with a warm reception, verifying the sheer timelessness of the rapper’s discography regardless of release year.
After detailing that he was asked to perform at the sixth-annual festival to “school the youth,” the Terror Squad MC shouted out some of hip-hop’s biggest icons, the late Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, and played their hits “Hypnotize” and “California Love,” respectively. Of course, Joe’s late-friend and collaborator Big Pun was also commemorated, and his classic “Still Not a Player” closed out his set.
Janelle Monáe Locks Down Horde of New Fans
While there were gaggles of fans eager to see the younger set of rappers at the event such as 6ix9ine and Juice Wrld, Wondaland Records’ head honcho Janelle Monáe brought enough of her awe-inspiring abilities to convert many members of Generation Z into fandroids. Her elongated set, which showcased her triple threat status, was a welcome breath of fresh air from the hip-hop heavy Saturday.
As we’ve come to expect from the five-foot fireball, Monáe’s energy was through the roof. Wearing black-and-white and rocking a long black-and-gray braid, her overarching message was one celebrating freedom of self and being true to who you are “even if it makes motherf–kers uncomfortable.”
She sang several tracks from her recent opus Dirty Computer, such as the Prince-tinged “Make Me Feel,” the liberation anthem “I Like That” and “Pynk,” in which her “lady-part” pants from the song’s music video made a comeback. Fans of her earlier work were also treated to spirited renditions of “Yoga,” “Q.U.E.E.N.” and “Tightrope.”
XXXTentacion Is Remembered by His Contemporaries
The aftermath of the tragic passing of XXXTentacion is still being felt throughout the industry, and many of the Florida musician’s contemporaries paid tribute to their fallen friend during their Saturday sets.
Tyla Yaweh, the opening artist for the festival’s main stage, asked the audience to participate in a moment of silence for the ? musician. “We all came up together,” he told the crowd, who put their arms in crosses to symbolize an X. The members of D’USSÉPALOOZA, the day’s first performers, also led a chant in remembrance of the 20-year-old.
6ix9ine, who has discussed making changes in his own life in the wake of XXXTentacion’s assassination, reminded the crowd that the polarizing young rapper cared very much about others.
“How many of y’all got love for XXXTentacion?” he asked the cheering crowd before playing X’s track with Ski Mask The Slump God, “F–ked Up.” “He loved y’all more than that… his last message to me said ‘yo, keep your f–king head up…’ he cared about more people than himself.”