Jay Z’s MADE IN AMERICA Festival Entertained Over 35,000 Fans Labor Day Weekend – Featuring Kanye West, John Mayer, Imagine Dragons and More.
Posted On 04 Sep 2014
Tag: A Tribe Called Red, Afrojack, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Beyonce, Budweiser, Capital Cities, Chance The Rapper, DJ Mustard, Downtown Los Angeles, Dr. Dog, Dvbbs, Gareth Emery, Grand Park, Grits & Buscuits, Hit-Boy, Iggy Azalea, Imagine Dragons, Jay-Z, John Mayer, Juanes, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Labor Day, Los Angeles, Made In America, Made In America Music Festival, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Metric, Music Festival, Rita Ora, Sublime with Rome, SZA, Wax Motif, Weezer, Will Sparks, Wolfgang Gartner, X Ambassadors, YG, ZZ Ward
This year, Made in America held two simultaneous festivals — one in Philadelphia and another in Los Angeles’ relatively new Grand Park. The L.A. edition kicked off Saturday, Aug. 30th in front of a packed crowd estimated at 35,000 fans. The thought of playing in the heart of downtown L.A., with a backstage located literally on the steps of City Hall, was exciting for many of the artists on the bill.
It was a unique setting, I believe the first of its kind for Los Angeles, with the stage set right outside City Hall. There are street festivals all the time in Downtown Los Angeles but this was the most epic of block parties. It reminded me of living back in New York, surrounded by skyscrapers, blue skies, sunshine and patches of grass within the city. Add food, beer, music and beautiful weather to the mix and you have quite the party.
The layout was perfect. There were two main stages right next to one another so fans who didn’t want to branch out to the EDM-centric James Dean Stage had their festival in a condensed space. But those who did explore by making their way up the stairs to the James Dean Stage to check out artists like Wolfgang Gartner, located right next to an open Starbucks where patrons were able to go in and out, liked the layout. I thought it was the perfect urban festival of it’s kind, to me it felt like a block party for miles with the openness of Grand Park to stretch out and sit, stand, and dance on the grass.
There was a heavy concentration of talent at the two main stages, which saw ZZ Ward on the Marilyn State along with new comers, X Ambassadors, Capital Cities, Iggy Azalea to reggae favorites, Sublime with Rome and then Dutch DJ, Afrojack on the Dylan Stage. As the sun descended there were plenty of highlights, arguably none bigger than Afrojack’s hour-long set. With a giant video screen behind him showing key lyrics from songs like “Ten Feet Tall,” the crowd, which stretched back as far as could be seen, to the food trucks and beer gardens a good distance away, screaming the words loudly.
Day one headliners Imagine Dragons closed out Saturday night with a hit-laden set that also brought a lot of crowd energy and support. Front man, Dan Reynolds got into the crowd-surfing as well, riding along the fans in front. Among other standout sets were Kendrick Lamar, who received a shout out from Reynolds on stage. L.A. fans have high expectations, but day one of Made In America lived up to almost every one of those, offering musical highlights, great crowds and a giant party.
Steve Aoki and Kanye West killed it with their closing-headliner duties on Sunday. Rita Ora, Cypress Hill, Weezer and John Mayer all turned in notable performances, particularly Mayer, who jokingly told the crowd after 90 minutes of blistering guitar playing that he would be checking Twitter for their commentary later.
Rita Ora made an entrance on the Marilyn stage, opening with her 2012 Biggie Smalls -sampling “How We Do (Party).” Ora worked the stage with her toned abs and chic blonde bob haircut, and rocking a gold lock-and-chain necklace. Ora previewed her upcoming second album (first in the U.S.) with a new song, the very poppy “Get A Little Closer.” And though she memorably surprised the crowd the day before during Iggy Azalea’s set for their current top 10 hit, “Black Widow,” Ora handled vocal duties on her breakthrough hit solo, with break dancers offering up more acrobatics to fill Iggy’s verses. She also had the audience rocking out to her Calvin Harris penned pop single “I Will Never Let You Down.”
Cypress Hill fittingly chose 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 triumphed. Weezer arrived eager to play to a hometown crowd. This was made evident as Rivers Cuomo asked his fans to join the band for a beach party in Santa Monica later that night, while tuning up “Island in the Sun.” Weezer gave 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”.
As Aoki set up shop for his second Made in America performance in 24 hours, it became immediately clear that this won’t be a typical DJ set. Not only does Bonnie McKee join him two songs in to debut their collaboration from Aoki’s upcoming Neon Future I, the celebs who’ve come to see the superstar DJ reached deafening highs. Skrillex, Jay Z, Beyonce and Victoria Beckham all take in the party from the side of the stage.
John Mayer then took the Marilyn, dressed in geek chic: complete with Buddy Holly glasses, suspenders and chinos. “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…” Mayer also plays a rare live performance of “No Such Thing,” and announces immediately afterward, “Good news guys, my nervousness is over.”
Mayer seemed relaxed and chatty throughout his set. He’s a funny guy and knows how to give good rock banter between songs. He also gives us fan favorite “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” with its moody blues echoing throughout the park with over a nearly eight-minute guitar solo. Beyonce is on the premises and knowing this, Mayer sings his acoustic cover of her song, “XO.” The crowd sings the lyrics back to him enthusiastically. The singer also delights us playing Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and his own “Waiting On the World to Change,” Mayer then give the crowd what it wants with “Gravity,” at one point laying his guitar flat on the floor and playing it almost like he would a piano.
After Mayer and Aoki, the park shifted itself over back to the Marilyn stage to catch Kanye peace out Sunday night. He opened up his set with the wildly bombastic, “Black Skinhead,” and without missing a beat, launched into “I Don’t Like,” “Mercy,” “Too Cold” and “Clique”.
The set progresses with, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “New Slaves,” “Power,” “Blood on the Leaves,” and “Runaway,” before West asks the crowd to join him in a toast. He captives the attention of the 30,000-plus fans who have waited to see him perform all weekend. A toast only seemed fitting to close out this memorable festival weekend.
** Click on the red highlights above to watch performance clips from the festival. **