When Made in America returns to Benjamin Franklin Parkway next weekend, the Jay-Z Music Festival will look and sound different than it has ever been in its nine-year history. in Philadelphia.
That’s not just because the two-day festival in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will have a narrower focus than ever on hip-hop and R&B and new Atlanta headliners, rapper Lil Baby, who is headlining Saturday, and former child pop star Justin Bieber, who will close the show on Sunday. (Set schedules for all acts will be announced in the days leading up to the festival.)
Made in America took off in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the concert market, and the festival is returning, along with the live music industry as a whole, just as the delta variant of the virus is causing a increase in cases nationwide.
That is, with caution. This year’s festival, with an abundance of talent including Megan Thee Stallion, Kehlani and Young Thug on Saturday and Doja Cat, Roddy Ricch and Freddie Gibbs on Sunday, will not be reduced in attendance.
Desiree Perez, CEO of Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment company that produces the festival in partnership with Live Nation, said ticket sales are on track between 50,000 and 60,000 per day, which would make the greatest MIA ever, more than years ago when Beyoncé, Rihanna or Jay-Z himself made the headlines.
But MIA 2021 will not only require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 text within 48 hours of entering the gates of MIA, it will also be different as festival-goers will be masked.
This month, the City of Philadelphia announced that masks would be required at all non-seated outdoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people. MIA could be exempt from this rule as it is mandatory for fans to be vaxxed or tested.
But the party, who also ran a free ticket promotion with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium in North Philadelphia, should follow the mask’s mandate.
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By implementing this set of protocols, MIA is going “beyond” what the city needs, Perez said. “We are safer. We take every safety precaution we can. And, frankly, accept the new world we have to live in. She said wearing the mask would be encouraged with signage on MIA grounds and enforced by security.
Requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test is the prevailing trend in the concert industry. Locally, it was implemented in outdoor venues as large as Citizens Bank Park for the Dead & Company show last weekend.
At the even larger MIA, the festival aims to speed up the entry process by encouraging ticket holders to upload their proof of vaccination or test status to the free Clear Health Pass smartphone app in advance. The festival is rolling out the app as part of a marketing partnership with Clorox, which will provide field disinfection stations.
The app, which is also used by the NFL Las Vegas Raiders and the Open Table Restaurant Reservation Service, can be downloaded from clear.app.link/MadeinAmerica. Anyone without a smartphone is required to provide paper proof of vaccination or a test to enter.
Since its first iteration in 2012, when Jay-Z and Pearl Jam titled and performed “99 Problems” together, the festival then known as Budweiser Made in America has never stopped evolving.
Since its inception, Roc Nation claims that the economic impact of the festival on the city has been $ 137.4 million, and that the festival has generated $ 3.4 million in charitable donations, in part through donations made. at its Cause Village on site. This year’s charitable partner is the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
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In its early days, BMIA aimed to be broad, with an emphasis on the connecting power of music.
“The lines that separate us, I can’t believe it,” Jay-Z told me in an interview on the steps of the art museum when the festival was first announced in 2012. “I’m cool with everything and all i’m hearing is music. In a beer commercial that year he said, “We all talk about each other’s culture. Country, rock, indie, rap We are all going to find a way to come together.
Made in America never had the time to book a country band, but it has featured many rock headliners including Nine Inch Nails and Coldplay. In 2014, when the festival expanded, adding shows in Los Angeles, Kanye West and Kings of Leon were the headliners in Philly.
The talent Jay-Z brought to town dazzled: D’Angelo, Drake, Odd Future, Kendrick Lamar, Phoenix, Solange and Janelle Monae twice. In the middle of the decade, the festival made room for Philadelphia’s independent scene, with artists including Hop Along, Japanese Breakfast, Waxahatchie, Strand of Oaks and Alex G.
Since then, MIA has settled into a successful format of featuring renowned rappers alongside heavy hitters from the world of electronic dance music, who performed on the festival’s Liberty stage during the day.
In 2018, when the city attempted to kick MIA off Parkway, Jay-Z responded with an op-ed written for The Inquirer stating that the festival “is a multicultural platform that represents strength, freedom of expression and perseverance. … Philadelphia, an iconic city, represents these ideals. The place is an integral part of the festival’s pulse.
That year the hip-hop plus EDM equation was in effect with Nicki Minaj, Post Malone and a celebratory set with Meek Mill, who had just been released from prison. Superstar DJs Diplo and Zedd also performed party sets.
This year, EDM will be absent from MIA. On the festival grounds, the DJs have already made their home on their Liberty Stage at the south end of the Parkway, near the Park Towne Place apartment building.
This area became the Maja Park, named after the sculpture of a female figure by German artist Gerhard Marcks who was moved there after spending nearly 30 years in storage at the art museum.
With the park no longer part of the festival grounds, MIA has reduced to three stages. The Rocky Stage where Bieber and Lil Baby will finish each night will alternate each day with the Freedom Stage nearby.
And the Tidal Stage – named after Jay-Z’s music service that will broadcast the festival live – will feature up-and-coming performers.
Even without the DJs or rock bands that have been out of the mix for years, this year’s MIA is still bursting with pop.
Bieber is riding high, currently topping the pop charts with “Stay,” his collaboration with Australian rapper Kid Laroi, and he’s scored big this year with “Peaches,” starring Daniel Caesar and Giveon. The Canadian singer has postponed all of his other shows until next year, so MIA is his only date in 2021.
Los Angeles rapper born Amala Dlamini Doja Cat has three Billboard Top 20 songs. Grammy Award-winning Megan Thee Stallion is set to get even bigger with her remix of BTS’s “Butter”. And there’s plenty of talent further down the MIA roster too, from the Griselda rap team in Buffalo, NY, to Atlanta singer-songwriter Mariah the Scientist.
But while there are some tantalizing acts that draw fans to the streets of Philadelphia, it’s hard not to wonder if it matters even who is playing this year. The real winner is the brand Jay-Z built with the festival which would now be in its 10th year if COVID-19 hadn’t canceled 2020.
Since its birth in 2012, Made in America has established itself as a Philadelphia perennial, an institution that, as last year proved, wouldn’t look like Labor Day weekend without. With private pandemic festival-goers as ready to revel in a rite of passage bacchanalia as they ever will be, it’s no surprise that the festival is coming back so big, even if COVID doesn’t go away.