Philly's 'Made in America' bill beats L.A.'s

Kanye West.
Kanye West.
Posted: May 24, 2014

For two years, Philadelphia had the Budweiser Made in America festival all to itself. Last month, however, it was announced that the Jay Z-curated fest would go bicoastal in 2014, taking place both here and in Los Angeles on Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30-31).

Whatever agita that news created - was Made in America going Hollywood? Would the Left Coast take all the best acts? - calmed down Thursday when it was announced that Kanye West will headline MIA in Philadelphia.

West, the most polarizing - and one of the most talented - figures in pop music, guarantees that MIA will be anything but dull. (The news also raises hope he'll follow his wedding to Kim Kardashian in Italy on Saturday with an album of new material this summer.)

There are plenty of big acts on the Philadelphia bill, starting with goofy-hat-wearing "Happy" hitmaker Pharrell Williams, pop's most ubiquitous figure in 2014. Also on hand, in a bill that draws from mainstream rock, electronic dance music, and hip-hop, with a smidgen of indie: DJ superstar Tiesto, brooding Brooklyn rockers the National, Southern family band Kings of Leon, old-school hip-hoppers De La Soul, retro-soul man Mayer Hawthorne, one-woman band Grimes, sample master Girl Talk, and Austin, Texas indie stalwarts Spoon.

Jay Z is not listed for either city. Does that mean the rapper, who played opening night in Philadelphia in 2012 and attended last year (when his wife, Beyoncé, with whom he'll play Citizens Bank Park on July 5, was the headliner), is not going to show up on either coast? Not at all. The smart money says he'll be at both, observing if not performing, for quality-control purposes.

The L.A. bill does not measure up to the Philly lineup. Headliners are guitar-hero singer-songwriter John Mayer (who played Welcome America! last year) and Las Vegas mainstream rockers Imagine Dragons (who played the 2013 MIA in Philadelphia).

Also included are rappers Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q (also at MIA in Philly last year), as well as Cypress Hill and Chance the Rapper. Rivers Cuomo's pop-rock wiseguys Weezer are standouts; ska stalwarts Sublime With Rome and deejay Wolfgang Gartner will also appear. The big-name dance-music act is Afrojack, also an MIA Philly vet. Colombian star Juanes will provide Latin flavor.

Electronic dance acts R3HAB, Steve Aoki, and Gareth Emery, plus YG, will play both Philadelphia and L.A. But can they do it in one day, as Phil Collins did by flying across the Atlantic on the Concord to play London and Philadelphia for Live Aid in 1985? Maybe they'll all fly across the country in Jay Z's jet.

West, the self-proclaimed Yeezus genius, is the most prominent hip-hop act on the Philadelphia bill by far.

But along with Daisy Age rappers De La Soul - much loved for their trippy 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising - there's also some young talent. There'll be Compton up-and-comer YG - which stands for Young Gangsta, naturally - as well as Danny Brown, the Detroit MC whose wildly creative Old gave Yeezus a run for its money as the rap album of 2013.

The Philly lineup is particularly thin on female acts. (For the uninitiated, Girl Talk is a guy, Pittsburgh dance-music maker Gregg Gillis.) The most notable woman on the bill is Grimes, starring Canadian producer Claire Boucher.

The only Philadelphia act playing in their hometown is Vacationer, the pop tropicalia band fronted by Kenny Vasoli, who identify themselves as proponents of "American Nu-Hula" music. In L.A., however, both Abington-raised singer-songwriter ZZ Ward and Philly pop quintet Dr. Dog are on the bill.

Full lineups appear at Tickets are available at

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