Travis Scott @ Made In America by ALEX PATERSON-JONES
Day one began with Philly’s own 99 neighbors. Although everyone comes to Made in America to go crazy, it is not an easy crowd to win over especially if they have never heard of you. 99 neighbors is a four person rap group took on the challenge and had the crowd jumping and singing songs they didn’t know the lyrics to. Grace Carter, an R&B artist from London, followed at Liberty Stage with her debut American festival performance. Shooting the show means you only get to stay for the first three songs but judging from what I saw she won’t be at the bottom of the bill at the Liberty Stage for long.
After catching the top of Grace Carter’s set, I jogged back down to Tidal Stage to catch two more upcoming hip hop/rap artists, Calboy and Melii, who were playing back to back sets. Only thing I knew about Calboy was his most popular track “Envy Me” and I was a blank slate when it came to Melii. But it was Melii’s performance that stood out to me. Women seem to be taking over the rap game this year and Melii seems poised to get her share. With big orange hair, skin tight red leather pants and a top consisting of two embroidered snake heads to cover her chest her look was the first thing you noticed, but it was her flow that held your attention. Judging by her confident, high energy performance she will be on the main stage someday soon.
As the day passed larger artists began to show, most notably Anderson.Paak who kicked off his set from behind the drum kit where he demonstrated jazz-like chops. Eventually he came out from behind the drum kit and won the crowd over with his deft dance moves and high-wattage smile. Another artist I have to give a shoutout to is Madeintyo. Hands down the most interactive artist when it came to the crowd, he took time out of the end of his set just to hop down from the stage to meet the front row, take some selfies and even let me take his portrait.
In previous years, MIA was a fairly even split between rappers and DJs but this year it was all hip-hop all the time. Juice Wrld took the second to last slot at Rocky stage. Twelve acts and and more than twenty thousand steps in to day one, the fatigue was definitely getting to me but Juice really gave me a second wind. “Lucid Dreams,” one of the most popular songs this year, was really a treat to see live, especially from the photo pit. You could feel the heat from the stage flames during the beat drop when the whole crowd bounced in synchronicity with Juice.
Cardi B closed out day one and the ex-stripper turned rap superstar owned the main stage with her rainbow jumpsuit and color coordinated background dancers. Cardi B had an energy that could not be contained even by a stage that large. She twerked, climbed stage scaffolding and even dumped water on herself all the while rapping her ass off. At the end of her set, fireworks were shot out of the top of that stage signalling that day one finally came to a close.
Day two was a mixed bag, and everything seemed to be running behind schedule. Kur, a Philly rapper and Meek Mills protege, didn’t quite live up to the hype. All he seemed to do was point to the crowd and yell over his song playing in the background. Blueface was twenty minutes late then had three unannounced openers which the crowd was not having.
Lizzo killed. This plus size artist is smashing beauty standards with every rung of the music industry she climbs. The confidence that exudes from that woman and her outfit was truly something to envy. She is someone that against all odds is doing exactly what she has always dreamed of and a lot of people watching were definitely inspired by this. But Philly’s Tierra Whack was my favorite performance all weekend. Going in I wasn’t the biggest fan of her work but after seeing her dazzle the crowd rocking a green jumpsuit with light up fidget spinners attached I truly love her. I was smiling the whole time just watching her dance on stage listening to the crowd singing for her. It gave me chills to watch a Philly girl slay the crowd at a festival she used to have to buy tickets to see — now she is the show.
Somebody stole my phone out of my front pocket as I tried to make my way through the wall of humanity to see Little Uzi Vert who had the whole festival raging. I’ve been a fan of Uzi for a long time and it was a pleasure to see him up close. During “XO tour Life” the sound of the crowd singing along drowned out the PA.
Although Travis Scott’s headlining slot on the main stage started an hour behind schedule, he was worth the wait. Travis Scott live is a roller coaster and that is not an exaggeration. Mosh pits, people passing out and full on fights broke out during this performance. One could definitely say this is the heavy metal of our generation and an outlet for all of the anger and nervous energy of today’s world. Last time I saw Travis he was playing one of the side stages at Made In America. It was really amazing to see how he has grown over the years to finally be the headliner of the whole festival. And so 2019 ended not with a whimper, but the bang that is Travis. — ALEX PATERSON-JONES