Made in America: Drake croons, Pearl Jam rocks the vote
Not even rain could stop Jay-Z’s parade.
On Sunday, Day 2 of the rapper’s Made in America music festival, some 34,000 concert-goers filled the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. They came from far (Boston, Cleveland, Dallas) and wide (Scotland) to hear the musical stylings of The Hives, Jill Scott, Odd Future, Drake and headliner Pearl Jam.
The rain was intermittent, drizzling briefly during Jill Scott’s set and coming down hard at times while Pearl Jam was on the main Rocky stage. No one in the crowd seemed to mind. Less than 18 hours after Jay-Z electrified the venue, the out-of-towners were still in awe.
“We came here for Jay-Z,” said Tim Hill, of Edinboro, Scotland. “He was brilliant, Kanye West as well, it was awesome.”
Hill admitted to sneaking in a flask of vodka, but wondered why the Budweiser-produced event didn’t offer any Scottish whisky. Other than that, the only real request: Where is Beyonce?
“Looking forward to Beyonce playing tonight,” said Evee Morrison, of the Shetland Islands, Scotland. “If Beyonce plays tonight, definitely coming back next year.”
Unfortunately, the only appearances Beyonce made was entering and exiting the concert, trailed by a slew of paparazzi and security each time.
For a second straight day, it was all about the music. There were no reported injuries and only one arrest, according to authorities. Some 74,000 fans (40,000 on Saturday, 34,000 on Sunday) packed the Parkway over the weekend — and, as Jay-Z promised Saturday, the chance that the two-day festival could return is a real possibility.
“From the beginning, Jay-Z and his people wanted a repeat event,” Mayor Michael Nutter said. “We’ll see how it goes. We’re very interested in exploring a future.”
Run DMC steals the show
The Hives kicked off Day 2 with their unique blend of punk and swag. The Swedish fivesome burst onto the Liberty Stage dressed in tuxedos and top hats and delighted the crowd with their zany theatrics. Frontman Pelle Almqvist jumped into the crowd and mixed it up before ending with chart-topper “Tick Tick Boom.”
Hometown heroine Jill Scott, dressed in all black, slowed it down with her version of classic soul music. The highlight of her set came when another Philly native, Eve, made a cameo to perform “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”
Odd Future’s set was marred by intermittent rain and sound problems, but they did what they do best: punk-inspired rap music. The crowd, most of them wielding umbrellas and rain hats, were tame by the group’s riotous standards.
No doubt, the highlight of Day 2 was the return of Run DMC. The Queens-based hip hop group was making their first tour stop in more than a decade and they pulled out all the stops, including their old-school Adidas kicks. They performed under a “Jam Master Jay Forever” banner and Run got serious for a moment, about halfway into their 40-minute set, when he talked about the passing of the beloved DJ.
“We put a silence on the group [after his assassination],” Run said.
Then Run introduced Jay’s sons, both mixmasters as well, T.J. (who goes by the name Dismatic) and Jam Master J’Son.
They played all their classics, including “It’s Tricky,” “My Adidas,” and “Walk This Way.” The funniest part came when Run talked about becoming a reverend.
“People say are you a real reverend? I say, I can marry you or bury you … pick one, nigga.”
Drake croons, Pearl Jam rages on
The two biggest acts of Day 2 were Drake (“I go by the name of Drizzy Drake”) and grunge rock pioneers Pearl Jam.
Drake came on five minutes early, bouncing onto the main Rocky stage in white pants and a black jacket and shouted, “Philadelphia, how the fuck are you all feeling?”
The prince of hip hop played his entire catalog, encouraging the audience to “put their ones in the air” for “I’m On One.” Drake seemed to draw the largest crowd of the day, but his on-stage antics bordered on absurd. He slam-danced awkwardly by himself and, at one point, he slowly put the mic down and pulled up his tank top, allowing the ladies to gaze at his bare torso, to wipe his sweat. For the majority of the show, the Canadian-born artist was more crooner than rap star.
The highlight of Drake’s set came when he reflected on his Philly tour stop, just two months ago, then brought 2Chainz out on stage for a jacked-up version of his Rihanna diss, “No Lie.” Ironically, he also belted out his hit duet, “Take Care,” with Rihanna’s verses blaring in the background.
Drake thanked and promoted Pearl Jam at least a dozen times, then the night’s headliner trotted out at 9 p.m. and sounded just as bold and empowered as they did a decade ago.
The Seattle-based band played for two hours, 25 songs, and emphasized the music festival’s point, America. They urged the crowd — many who were chanting, “USA, USA, USA” — to vote in this fall’s presidential election and lamented on jobs being shipped overseas.
“I want to see more things made in America,” frontman Eddie Vedder said, before singing “Unemployable.”
Pearl Jam played most of their hits, including “Alive,” “Better Man,” Evenflow,” and “Jeremy.” They ended their set with a version of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Prior to that, Jay-Z made a surprise appearance and revived the fading crowd with a rendition of “99 Problems.” Then Vedder, drenched in sweat and rain, said goodnight.
“Don’t forget to vote, see you next year, Philly, goodbye,” he said.