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Made In America Saturday Recap: Chromeo, J.Cole, Steve Aoki and More.

September 4, 2014

thenational_8Text by Darragh Dandurand. Images by Teresa McCullough.

Like an expensive and excessive whirlwind, the controlled chaos that is Made In America rocked Philadelphia this past weekend. Piles of Budweiser beer cans, cigarette butts, lost shoes, broken umbrellas, muddy American flags and miscellaneous trash covering the parkway on Sunday night told the story of a festival that once was.

In just two days, fifty acts performed back-to-back on the four stages spread out in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. From 1:30 p.m. to midnight each day, the parkway quickly filled up with wealthy teenagers from the suburbs and music junkies who could barely stay away from the never ending set lists pumping out from every direction.

Herds of body glitter-covered teenagers clung to each other in matching patriotic crop tops and high wasted shorts. They swarmed like insects towards the music, the bass bumps drawing them as close as possible to their idols. Like a religious experience, they looked up to the elevated stages and worshipped stars like Kanye West, The National (above) and mix-master Tiesto. They honored their gods with fist pumps and hand-rolled joints which they threw in vain. Some grabbed the metal barriers and hurled their guts over the railings in tribute while others climbed up light-posts and street signs to get a better view.

Everything was new and exciting before the masses became sweaty and day-drunk. Guitar riffs echoed throughout Fairmount as fans poured through the gates and wandered through the trees looking for the best spots to vomit later in the evening. Not long after Cherub started playing on Rocky Stage, directly in front of the Museum of Art, did the air begin to take on the sickly sweet smell of cheap marijuana and prepackaged teen spirit.

Highlights of the day include performances by Mayer Hawthorne who turned up the funk and played some of his best hits, such as “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” and “No Strings.” Although he started off a little slow, his stage presence picked up by the end of his set when he took on a guitar solo for a cover of “Walk This Way” that had fans running towards his groove.

Cheesy as always, Chromeo put smiles on everyone’s faces with their routine and corny lyrics. Their performance was electric and personal, drawing the crowd in and having them dance themselves silly. Not long after they began to jam, little white girls began popping up and sitting on shoulders over the sea of sweaty bodies. They swayed their arms and long, straight hair as Chromeo dedicated numerous songs to every one of them that didn’t fall down.

As the evening edged on, the grassy area surrounding the Washington Monument was soon filled with tired bodies lying face-up to the graying sky. The mellow grunge of City and Colour melted over the festival grounds, seeping into the tainted air. By far, the best part of the set was when singer and guitarist Dallas Green got into a mini-argument with a high frat boy in the audience over the relative shittiness of his fellow Canadian born artist, Justin Bieber.

Impressively, J. Cole‘s set started with a video montage of archive, security and viral footage of police brutality and racism cleverly called “Made In America.” Some fans cheered for the short film, but most people texted and made out.

Far before Steve Aoki finished his repetitive and overwhelmingly intense electro-house set, everyone began to wander towards the pulsing lights at Rocky Stage signaling that Kanye West was indeed in Philadelphia and about to perform. They all migrated, pushing together as close as possible. Their bodies were lit as pseudo-silhouettes with gold stage lights bouncing off in every direction. Kanye’s presence could be sensed for miles around as he moved across the stage in front of a giant, glowing red cube.

Thousands of fans wiggled as best they could their support to their rap demigod before leaving and weaving their drunk steps to catch a train back to the ‘burbs.

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