Kanye West takes the stage at MIA

The main stage takes form for the Made in America concert to be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Saturday and Sunday. Jay-Z and Pearl Jam will be the headliners. Much of the area will have restricted access.
The main stage takes form for the Made in America concert to be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Saturday and Sunday. Jay-Z and Pearl Jam will be the headliners. Much of the area will have restricted access. (SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 02, 2012

Welcome to The Philadelphia Inquirer's by-the-minute coverage of the Budweiser Made In America festival. Check back as we post updates here and at www.philly.com/madeinamerica from a team of reporters covering the two-day music festival on The Benjamin Franklin Parkway that ends Sunday night: Inquirer Music Critic Dan DeLuca, and reporters David Hiltbrand, Kristen A. Graham, Miriam Hill, Jonathan Lai, John Trinacria, Maria Panaritis, Al Lubrano, Mark Fazlollah, James Osborne, Leah Kauffman, Esther Lee.

10:36 p.m.

Jay-Z's finale song at 10:30 a.m. was followed by the lights going down. "Philadelphia, Philadelphia, since you treated me so nice tonight...since you were so good to me Philadelphia, I'm going to be good to you tonight, Philadelphia," Jay-Z called out to the crowd. And to the delight of the ground, Kanye West took to the stage.

10:06 p.m.

As Made in America's first day neared its end, authorities said things were going very smoothly. Philadelphia Police Cpl. Frank Domizio reported no arrests and "only a couple" of alcohol-related minor injuries.

--Mark Fazlollah and Kristen Graham

9:36 p.m.

President Obama makes a surprise on-screen appearance during Jay-Z's performance telling the crowd the performer represents someone who "refused to quit."

Praising the "Made In America" event, Obama said it reflects "what's possible when people from all walks of life go as far as their talents will take them." He finished by urging everyone to register and vote.

"Shout out to the president..." responded an obviously happy Jay-Z.

9:17 p.m. Verizon called it a service "hiccup" but fans may have another name for it. Between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. fans and everyone else at the concert venue experienced loss of cell phone and internet service.

Sheldon Jones, a Verizon spokesman blamed the concentration of people all tweeting, calling and send video for overloading the capacity of the area cell towers. This even though Verizon had added extra cell capacity.

-Al Lubrano, Miriam Hill

9:11 p.m.

Steve Stoute is sitting backstage like a pasha in an air-conditioned tent on a plush couch in a fabulous bespoke suit. The advertising executive and promoter who brought Jay-Z and Budweiser together and who is co-producing the Ron Howard film about the festival likes the early buzz.

"We did a check. We realized we have tens of thousands of people sending out social media, Instagrams and many more on Facebook. The social chatter has been really active.

"Since we're live streaming, we wanted people watching on their computers to enjoy the experience as well. So the fact that they've been responding in great numbers lets us know it's working."

The big draw is obviously the headliners, but Stoute's intention is that the crowd on the Parkway will be exposed to all kinds of music.

"What's great is coming to see Pearl Jam and learning about an Afrojack or a Rick Ross in the process," he says. "It's about cultural sharing at this type of event. That's what it's all about -- bringing people together and learning from each other."

Stoute says signing up all this talent was relatively easy.

"When the artists were explained the concept and what we were doing in Philadelphia -- once they got the full story, they really rallied behind it -- the sentiment of what Made in America is about."

Is it too early to make plans for next Labor Day?

"The intention is to make this an annual event," Stoute says. "Hopefully if everything goes right, we'll be back next year."

-David Hiltbrand

8:30 p.m.

Fans getting hungry making for long lines and dwindling food supplies at some of the trucks.

7:55 p.m.

The stars keep coming. Emmy Rossum is backstage enjoying Rita's water ice.

7:13 p.m.

This just in from Inquirer reporter Jonathan Lai:

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Beyonce are all backstage at Made In America.

-Jonathan Lai.

6:10 p.m.

Everywhere you turn this evening, there's something going on at Made In America - big, little, loud, chill, and we aren't even close yet to the planned Jay-Z blowout finale to Day One on the Rocky Stage at 9:30 tonight.

We start with this golden nugget: Inquirer photographer Michael Wirtz was skulking around all day and found none other than legendary Hollywood director Ron Howard filming the goings-on along the Parkway. With a few snaps of his own digital camera, Wirtz grabbed images of the imagemaker at work. Let's call it a bit of art imitating art imitating life. (Philly.com has posted the pics; check tomorrow's Inquirer, too, for the best of what we've compiled all day long.)

Technical problems all day with the lack of reliable wi-fi in the festival's media tent haven't stopped our intrepid reporters from pushing through to us what they're seeing. Inquirer TV writer David Hiltbrand just found a backdoor way to fire off a dispatch of interviews with revelers. Here are snippets of what the maestro delivered on deadline, including dispatches about what it sounds like to fans, on the ground - the good, the bad and the ugly:

"We drove in last night," says Cassandra Varcoe of Detroit with two friends. "We're here just for the festival ... Jay-Z, Pearl Jam.

"We were at Lala (Lollapalooza) in Chicago earlier this month and that seemed better organized. The stages were farther apart so the sound didn't clash."

Outside one of the entrance gates, Hiltbrand reported, was Thomas MacPherson of Toronto, who tried rather listlessly to sell a Two-Day festival pass at the last minute.

"We bought tickets like five months ago and then one of my friends bailed on me at the last minute," MacPherson said. "We rented a car and drove down. ... Philly is amazing. Lots of historic buildings. We went out and hit the bars last night. The people were really friendly. I think they were friendly. I was already drunk."

Hiltbrand got an interesting reply when he pointed out to MacPherson that his selling style was extremely passive: "If somebody doesn't buy this in the next five minutes," MacPherson said, flicking the ticket, "I'm going to eat it."

Michael Archer came out of the Parkway House with his pit bull on a leash and was immediately assaulted with a wall of sound. The entrance of the imposing apartment building on Pennsylvania Avenue is less than 200 yards from the festival's fence.

"The mayor said it would be muffled," Archer said, frowning. "It's not muffled at all. One of his aides described this as 'a few hours of inconvenience.' It's actually two weeks of inconvenience for neighbors between the setting up and the trash that gets left and then the whole parking thing.

"It doesn't make sense to have it here," Archer continued, suggesting several unchosen alternatives: "You have Fairmount Park and the stadiums."

At least a few people in the Parkway were taking advantage of the situation, with windows open on high rises up and down the Parkway. "They're up on the roof, playing drinking games and people watching," said Archer.

Hiltbrand then went to Spring Garden Street and talked to others, including Joe Vu, who patiently waited with nine of his friends to get cheese steaks at a single grill cart. Vu's group had made the long drive down from Buffalo, N.Y. for one reason: Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay-Z. "We were gonna go to Electric Zoo in New York City. It's an all electronic music festival. But Philly's the bomb."

"Make sure you say that Buffalo is the All American city," Vu added. Why does it deserve that distinction? All 10 friends yelled out in chorus, "The bars are open until 4 a,m.!"

The Best Western Motel on Pennsylvania Avenue is right near Made In America's EDM casbah [that's electronic dance music] ... sorry, the Freedom Tent. The lobby on Saturday afternoon looks more like a fraternity house.

"We're fully occupied," said Jess Curtis, the assistant front office manager. "We were sold out for this weekend about two hours after they announced the festival."

"There was all that talk about sound proofing," Curtis continued. "As soon as they started the sound checks yesterday, it was very apparent that the sound proofing didn't work."

Another reportorial venture into the adjoining Fairmount neighborhood by the Inquirer's Joe Trinacria turned up a little more of that loss of love for the - how shall we say it - lack of soundproofing.

"I think it was absolutely thoughtless of the city," said Freida Graves, of The Philadelphian, a towering apartment complex at 2401 Pennsylvania Avenue. "It has been like this for a week," she said, referring to the inconvenience of having fences up. She said she lost her parking - and was still annoyed by it. "I called the mayor's office even when they took away our parking."

"I love my mayor," Graves said, "but he made a big mistake. I hope something good comes out of it. It's an inconvenience for thousands."

Speaking of the city's top dog, word is that Mayor Nutter planned to be on site before sundown.

-David Hiltbrand, Joe Trinacria and Maria Panaritis.

5:15 p.m.

Three hours into Day One of Made In America, the first East Coast megabill musical festival set in a Big City downtown seems to be going off without much drama.

With no reports of arrests and with all acts hitting the stage on time, the only unruly spectator so far, it seems, is the sound, pouring out of the fenced-in performance area and well across the Parkway.

Mayor Nutter was watching during the afternoon from a command perch at the Municipal Services Building, at the far end of the Parkway. Nutter then planned to head to the concert area for himself, where Managing Director Richard Negrin had spent at least part of the day in the production trailer near the stage.

He said Made In America had so far been a success.

"It's packed," Negrin said of the crowd, though he did not have specific numbers for ticket sales.

Spectators were streaming to the open-air venue's main entrance at 22nd and the Parkway all afternoon, with no reports of gate crashing or much disorder. As peformances alternated, at staggered times, between three stages and a DJ tent, a racially diverse crowd of music lovers mostly danced, swayed and lip-synced along with the eclectic lineup headlined by a much-anticipated closing performance later tonight by Jay-Z and a rumored surprise guest(s).

"Even if you don't like to move, you just have to dance today," said Frannie Wooten, 23, a nanny who lives in Washington, D.C., as she and her friend Molly Parks, a Philadelphia flight attendant, danced to a live performance Janelle Monae.

Frannie's outfit of choice for the daylong marathon of music: A purple sundress and a backwards spiderman baseball cap, with a lit cigarette to her mouth. Molly twirled around in short denim shorts, a tank top and black combat boots.

Both had taken positions far enough away from the stage that they'd have room to groove and get a real workout. Closer to the stage, the crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder.

Todd Johnson, 28, and two other friends from Philadelphia - Erin Walczykowski, 28, Sharon Wanamaker, 27, were happy to be hanging among the crowd inside. Johnson knows the keyboardist in Janelle Monae's band.

"It's pretty great," Johnson said. "I'm glad there are a few clouds out so it's not so unbearable with the heat."

He said there was a "little bit of a hiccup getting in," with men and women going in separate lines and bag checks. But "it's been good since we've been here. People seem nice, friendly."

In between performances there was plenty of flowing beer (Budweiser logos abounded, as did suds), along with merchandise stands, a free photo booth, a spot where people could play bean bag toss for free - and tons of portable toilets.

-Kristen Graham, Michael Rozansky, Miriam Hill, and Maria Panaritis.

3:50 p.m.

What would a huge public gathering in Philly be without a little politics as a sideshow?

An unsettled labor dispute angled for attention this afternoon outside the three-stage venue on the Parkway hosting the inaugural Made In America festival as dozens of members of District Council 33, the union for the city's blue-collar workers, shouted "No Contract, No Peace."

Union president Pete Matthews said Mayor Nutter was staging the concert to burnish his national image while not doing enough to take care of business in his own back yard.

"We believe this is Mayor Nutter's coming-out party before the Democratic National Convention on Monday," Matthews said. His members have gone without a contract - or a raise - since 2009, as have city workers who belong to the white-collar union, District Council 47. Nutter's move to appeal an arbitrator's decision to grant city firefighters raises has further added to his labor woes.

Nutter became president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors this year, making him a favorite pick as a talking head on national TV shows and many pundits wonder whether he will run for a higher office.

A few concert-goers snapped pictures of the protest or accepted fliers that read, "Mayor Nutter holds a Budweiser 'Made in America' concert hosted by a beer company owned by a foreign company!" Budweiser - that's the King of Beers to you - is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V., which is headquartered in Belgium.

Nutter has said he wants to negotiate a contract with the unions but needs them to agree to cost savings.

The protest dissolved and the music soon took center stage, with Maybach Music Group working its rap sounds on Rocky Stage as the third act of the day.

-Kristen Graham, Miriam Hill and Jonathan Lai.

3:15 p.m.

The party is jammin' as the music is rolling on at Made In America. Prince Royce is rousing and teasing his crowd on Liberty Stage, while concertgoers take in all that the festival has to offer, from a DJ tent to music on live stages to charging stations for cell phones and even a corner where people were going to be able to register to vote.

Reported Inquirer Music Critic Dan DeLuca a short bit ago: "It's hotter than hot out in front of Art Museum." At the secondary stage a bit further away, Prince Royce has been working the crowd in between playing smooth-and-sexy songs. As DeLuca reports: "Ladies, I'm single," Prince Royce declared from the stage.

Inside the DJ tent, lights flashed and densely-packed bodies danced, hands in the air. On the lawn outside the tent, friends spread out blankets and laid down, resting up for their favorite acts later in the night.

"This is AWESOME," a teenaged girl shouted above the thumping bass line. "Made in America, woohoo!!!"

Oh - and that whole thing about the sound traveling or not traveling beyond the paywall-protected, eight-foot fence we mentioned earlier?

Reports Jonathan Lai: You can hear the music clearly across the street from the fence at 22nd Street just south of the Parkway.

-Dan DeLuca, Kristen Graham, Jonathan Lai and Maria Panaritis.

2:35 p.m.

Not every out-of-towner is thrilled with the city-within-a-city that has been built along Philly's museum row on the Parkway for Made in America. Turns out, the two-day music fest is putting a crimp in the plans of some art enthusiasts who've traveled to Philadelphia for the holiday weekend to spy the city's world-renowned museums.

Take, for instance, Earl Huch, 74, and Lois Eldred, 58, of Baltimore. The pair drove up for the weekend to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum and The Barnes Foundation at its newly relocated digs - all along the Parkway.

But they didn't know, until they tried to walk out the front of the art museum this morning, that anything else was going in town. Unable to leave the museum on foot through its front door atop the famous "Rocky" steps, the pair found their way out another way - only to be surprised by the sight of three stages walled off by fencing and crowds gathering for Day One of the megabill music fest.

"We still don't know exactly what it is," said Earl Huch, as he and his companion sat on a bench people watching before an early afternoon visit to the Barnes.

Service on the shuttle bus they had hoped would take them from museum to museum, they said, had been suspended. And the Rodin itself, they learned the night before, would not be open. The pair planned to make their way down to the Barnes on foot and make the best of things.

"We're ignoring it," Huch said, of the festival in his midst. It's fine. Looks like it'll be fun."

A bit less sanguine about the disruption, however, were Amy Kaz, her husband Dennis, and their five children - all from Charlotte, N.C., and all in town for a weekend getaway.

On any normal day, they and tons of other tourists would simply tromp to the Art Museum steps and shoot playful, picturesque photos of loved ones running up the iconic staircase memorialized by Sylvester Stallone in the classic film, Rocky.

Not so. Not today. And not for a family that had no idea there would be a concert at all in the middle of the city they'd be visiting.

"We are really upset," Amy Kaz said. "We came here for the art as well as the steps, and we're upset that Made in America killed our photo ops."

A bit more playful, but still disappointed, were Molly Sinclair and Mike Zawryski from Pittsburgh.

"We knew about the concert days before but we were tenacious and it wasn't going to stop us," Sinclair said. "It's a real shame that the setup for the concert takes away from the beauty of the Art Museum," she said.

-Jonathan Lai, Joe Trinacria and Maria Panaritis.

2:10 p.m.

Gary Clark Jr. has hit the Rocky Stage working his guitar to kick things off right on schedule. The festival has, officially, begun.

-Kristen Graham.

1:45 p.m.

Leave it to Kristen Graham to stumble upon two school teachers, of all people, among those headed to the Made In America festival. Reporting from outside the Rodin Museum, the Inquirer schools beat reporter met South Jersey buddies Mike Egan and Tom DiMattia, who were sharing a beach blanket on the lawn in front of the Rodin as they and other concertgoers relaxed before entering the main gates a few hundred feet away.

Egan, 34, of Laurel Springs, and DiMattia, 39, of Cherry Hill, said they were pacing themselves for the long day of music and drinking ahead. They had taken the PATCO High-Speed Line in from New Jersey, so traffic and parking headaches had been avoided.

Even though the guys were planning to attend only Day One of the parkway festival, Egan and DiMattia had managed to stuff two full days of music into their Labor Day weekend.

"We said, we were either going to this concert or Bruce," Egan said, weighing Philadelphia's inaugural Made in America extravaganza against two Bruce Springsteen stadium shows scheduled across town Sunday and Monday at Citizens Bank Park. "We ended up buying both."

The pals said they were especially tuned up to see Jay-Z and Janelle Monae later today, though the entire slate that cuts across musical genres was compelling to the guys, who are big music nuts.

"It's going to be an eclectic mix - a little bit of everything," DiMattia said.

-Kristen Graham and Maria Panaritis

1:06 p.m.

So much for all those scientifically dubious warnings from Mayor Nutter this past week about how sound would - or would NOT - travel at the Made In America fest. No one, the mixmaster mayor had proclaimed, would be able to hear much of anything if they hadn't bought a ticket, so don't bother to show up without one.

Sound checks today? They tell another story.

The Inquirer's Jonathan Lai reports sound is bellowing well beyond the two rings of eight-foot-high fencing spaced 16 feet apart around the three-stage venue along Benjamin Franklin Parkway. If anything, it's hard NOT to hear the sound systems being tested before today's 2 p.m. go time.

Jonathan says the scene so far is pretty chilled out. Not a huge mass of pedestrians gathering in the street yet, and lines at the main venue entrance are flowing smoothly. Hordes of security officers are checking bags and patting down hundreds of spectators but moving them through pretty painlessly and quickly.

In no rush to enter: Air Force Airmen Mario Brown, 24, and Simmi Singh, 21, who were hanging out on a sidewalk bench before heading into the festival site. The pals had driven up from Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, toting tickets that cost more than $300 apiece, itchy to see Jay-Z on the main stage tonight and DJ Calvin Harris in a pumped-up techno tent.

Here's a fun side note: The flags of nations that have lined the Parkway for decades are getting some competition this weekend. Up and down a stretch of the Parkway leading to the festival's main entrance, organizers have hung from temporary flagpoles 28 huge Made In America flags, each towering high above the year-round banners of such nations as the Netherlands, Greece, and Nicaragua.

-Maria Panaritis and Jonathan Lai.

11:33 a.m.

For our first update of the morning: A quick FYI on a schedule change. Gone is Jay Electronica from today's lineup, no longer on tap for a 5:45 to 6:15 p.m. performance on Liberty Stage.

Gates open at noon. First performance at 2 p.m.

-Maria Panaritis

5 a.m.

It's here ... Day One of the inaugural extravaganza that will transform the City of Brotherly Love's most adored open-air music venue - the Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art - into the first East Coast megabill musical festival set in an Big City downtown.

Jay-Z, Pearl Jam, Drake, Run DMC, Jay Electronica and Gary Clark Jr. are just a few of the 31 acts, big or boutique, set to deliver performances on three stages and a huge tent as part of the Budweiser Made In America Festival. Additional acts will be named as the weekend unfolds.

The rumor mill has been in overdrive for days with speculation over a "surprise" appearance by Beyonce - and maybe others? - Saturday night while her husband Jay-Z brings the house down with the headlining performance to close out the first night. (Will Kanye West hop on stage? How about Bruce Springsteen, whose two stadium shows at Citizens Bank Park are set for Sunday and Monday across town?)

For the first time in Parkway history, organizers have walled off portions of Philadelphia's grandest boulevard - our city's attempt at the Champs d'Elysees - so that performance space is accessible only to concertgoers who have paid $75 to $350 or more for tickets, (depending on how much cash fans wanted to shell out for a little extra VIP treatment.)

There is expected to be a substantial police and security presence inside the makeshift arena and outside on the street. Authorities are keenly aware of a nighttime shooting that broke out during recent Fourth of July concert festivities on the Parkway. Police brass say they will do their best to protect the peace while safeguarding the rights of pedestrians who gather beyond the fenced-in barrier that encircles the performance area.

Adding even more electricity to an already star-studded weekend lineup: Hollywood will be in the house, with legendary director Ron Howard on the ground pulling footage for what is expected to become a Jay-Z-centric movie about a festival that is all but anchored to his larger-than-life persona. Mega-producer Brian Grazer has attached his name to the filmmaking project.

-Maria Panaritis

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|