Made In America: Festival Review

Britt Jacobson & Justin Leff

Spotlight Editor, Staff Writer

Over Labor Day weekend, Budweiser’s Made In America (MIA) music festival was held in downtown L.A. The set list was curated by Jay Z, and featured a wide variety of artists from many different genres. A simultaneous Made In America festival was held in Philadelphia, where it has taken place for the past two years.

We’re giving you a complete guide to MIA: concert tips & tricks, artist by artist reviews, as well as songs to check out.

Top 12 Tips & Tricks for MIA

1. Wear sunscreen, because you will most definitely get sunburnt.

2. Try to stick to short clothes, because it’s so hot out you’ll sweat buckets.

3. Cute outfits are a must for both genders, and many people stuck to a patriotic theme of American flag shirts, shorts, hats, and even fanny packs.

4. Bring extra $$ because food and water are pricey!

5. If you don’t have the time to buy water, stop by any emergency stations, distinguished by a big red cross balloon. They will give you chilled water bottles, and insist that you take a load off and sit by a fan. Trust me, you won’t object.

6. Check out the little vendor stations. There was a hair salon, massage chair line, and lots of apparel stands, with lots to offer! There was also a carnival ride!

7. When packing a bag, make sure you keep sweaters or extra clothes on top because the security is very thorough and will ask to check your whole bag.

8. Don’t bring food, drinks, or any medicine (even Advil!) They will confiscate it. There is a more complete list of banned items on their website.

9. Anytime you see a mist station, take advantage and stand under it for a few minutes. You’ll come out dewey and refreshed.

10. Portapotties are pretty grimey. Bring Purell.

11. Stop in the Sparkling Ice booth for shots of flavored Ice Water.

12. Ride the carnival ride! Lines are short, and its FREE!

Saturday Reviews:

X Ambassadors

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Genre: Alt-Rock

Justin: When I saw X Ambassadors was performing at the concert, I was super pumped because of their one epic hit, “Jungle.” When lead singer Sam Harris took the stage jumping from one side to the other, I thought, “I gotta Shazam this song.” Now, “Free and Lonely” is my favorite song and I highly recommend checking it out here. Their 5 or 6 song set sounded like hit after hit from songs I didn’t even know. When X Ambassadors concluded with “Jungle,” Harris jumped down from the stage into the crowd singing along with all the fans. And I got a high five so I’m kind of a big deal.

Britt: I was pleasantly surprised by X- Ambassador’s performance. I had never heard of them, or any of their songs, and apparently neither had many other people, because the stage was fairly empty. It was nice to be close up, and not have to fight people for a spot. They had a really great stage presence, and seemed very grateful to be there. If you have an opportunity to see them I definitely recommend it.

Top 3 Songs:

1. Jungle
2. Free & Lonely
3. Love Song Drug Songs

Capital Cities

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Genre: Indie Pop

Justin: Capital Cities has a control over their crowd that mediocre bands shouldn’t posses. Getting there 10 minutes before their performance, we were able to secure a spot in the first five rows. They came out a few minutes late, but started with “Kangaroo Court” where I was immediately impressed and was excited for the rest of their set. Four songs later I was bored, sweaty, and the victim of a shirtless man with terrible bacne jumping up and down in front of me. They included two covers in the middle of the set most likely to keep the crowd from going crazy after several unfamiliar songs. The duo which consisted of an attractive man and a bearded fat man concluded with their hit “Safe and Sound,” getting the crowd hyped and somehow shirtless using their crowd control power. The most attention went to the trumpet player who has become a legend from his signature sound in “Safe and Sound.” Overall: Going to see Capital Cities was a good choice to see if you like standing in your own and other peoples’ sweat listening to songs you don’t know and then an okay one.

Britt: “It’s so nice to be in our hometown of LA, the capital city of the world!” is how Capital Cities keyboardist began the set, before launching into their popular song “Kangaroo Court”. This was my second time seeing Capital Cities, and I liked them even better this time around. Despite the fact that it was 100 + degrees out, they still braved the weather and donned their classic black and white satin jackets. They got a fairly substantial crowd, and everyone around me was having a good time (except for maybe Justin). Their trumpet player in particular received a lot of love, possibly for his great trumpet skills, but more likely his attractiveness. They have a great stage presence and really interact with the audience. I would argue that they’re actually better live. They finished the set with “Safe and Sound”, and then requested that the audience “show some skin” for the remixed version.

Top 3 Songs:

1. Safe and Sound (remix)
2. Kangaroo Court
3. One Minute More

YG:

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Genre: Rap

Britt: This was so awful that I just don’t want to talk about it. I listened to about one minute of the concert before turning right around and getting an ice cream sandwich. It was mint chocolate chip on chocolate cookies. It was delicious and so much better than YG.

Justin: YG has a lot of those songs that the Vine guys use in their videos. It was too bad YG had to ruin it for me during his terrible set.

Top 3 Songs:

NONE. NONE AT ALL.

Iggy Azalea

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Genre: Hip-Hop

Justin: Iggy Azalea sounds like she’s mad at you when she sings. What did I do Iggy? “It’s like I loved you so much and now I just hate you,” (“Black Widow”). Her voice is violent and it makes me uncomfortable.

Britt: I’ve seen Iggy live previously, and I didn’t love her the last time, so instead of her concert I went to DVBBs, an EDM group. I stayed until after their set was finished and caught Wolfgang Gartner as well. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND! If you like EDM music you should check them out, and try to see them live if possible.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Black Widow
2. Change Your Life
3. Fancy

Sublime with Rome

Genre: Alt-Rock

Britt: Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Sublime with Rome, because I was at Wolfgang Gartner. Whoops!

Justin: I wish I saw them.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Take it or Leave it
2. Santeria
3. Can You Feel It

Kendrick Lamar

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Genre: Rap

Britt: Before Kendrick came on there was a mix of random rappers. I don’t love rap music, so I might be biased, but this concert was literally so boring that my friends and I sat down on the floor, and picked at the grass rather than trying to see the stage. When Schoolboy Q came onstage in an orange bucket hat, I began to enjoy myself, and by the time Kendrick came on it was somewhat pleasant. I just regret going at all.

Top 3 Songs:
1. B*** Don’t Kill My Vibe
2. Swimming Pools
3. m.A.A.d City

Afrojack

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Genre: EDM

Justin: Just a big Bar Mitzvah. I have a problem with EDM DJs at concerts. To me, there is no skill in what Afrojack does in concert. For all we know, he presses play on his Spotify account and then holds his headphones like he’s doing something. Don’t get me wrong, I think Afrojack is great, but seeing them in concert is nothing special. I was lucky to have a friend leave 20 minutes early with me to get FRONT ROW for Imagine Dragons.

Britt: Afrojack’s concert was the absolute highlight of my night. It definitely helped that I could enjoy the view from someone’s shoulders. What I loved about this concert was that as soon as he walked on stage, the audience already started dancing and having a great time. It was impossible not to dance. If you looked around, everyone had a smile on their faces, singing along, and jumping up and down. Take me back right now. Please.

1. Ten Feet Tall
2. The Spark
3. Take Over Control

Imagine Dragons:

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Genre: Alt-Rock

Britt: I thought that Imagine Dragons was going to be seriously overrated, but I was definitely proven wrong. They pulled the biggest crowd on Saturday, by far, and played all of their hit songs, as well as “Song 20” by Blur as a throwback song. I would love to see them live again!

Justin: Imagine Dragons was the reason I came to Made in America. I have missed them 3 times now and finally I was able to get to see them in Downtown LA. As I said above, I left the Afrojack Bar Mitzvah early to get front row for Imagine Dragons, which ultimately was a great investment. Imagine Dragons was insane, opening with “Tiptoe,” and a huge applause from the crowd of 30,000 (who were all behind me). Lead singer Dan Reynolds announced that this would be their last concert for the “Night Visions” album, which I thought was pretty sick since I love that album. His parents were also in the crowd and I’m sure they were impressed as Imagine Dragons tore through its album with known hits, “It’s Time” and  “Demons.” It was clear that lead singer Dan Reynolds was “On Top of the World.” A nuclear performance of “Radioactive” concluded the set with Reynolds throwing a huge drum and smashing it down before leaving the stage like nothing had happened. Highlight of the night.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Radioactive
2. Demons
3. Tiptoe

SUNDAY:

Justin didn’t come on Sunday, so these reviews are just by Britt.

Weezer

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Genre: Rock

I absolutely love love LOVE Weezer, and I was so excited to see them on the lineup! As soon as they came on stage, I went into a sort of shock, and I still can’t believe that I’ve seen them live. At the beginning of their concert, I was stuck behind a very tall, large man with dreadlocks, and I couldn’t really see anything. A few people left in the middle, and the crowd shifted so that I got a spot standing on the curb! This gave me a great view of the stage! They transitioned into their famous song “Island in the Sun” by riffing a little about being from Santa Monica and going to the beach with all of their fans that night. I’m not sure if they were joking about that part, but regardless, everyone was having a great, head-bobbing, time. I would go back in a heartbeat, even if it means dreads swaying in my face.

Top 3 Songs:

1. Island in the Sun
2. Beverly Hills
3. Undone- The Sweater Song

Chance the Rapper

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Genre: Rap

I really liked Chance before I went to this concert. Again, I don’t love rap, so I’m a little biased here, but I can say with certainty that this was not his best performance. He yelled a lot about “making some noise because this is Made in America” and how this is “our concert” and we should make the most of it. If he spent as much time on actually rapping, and not just ranting into the mic, I might still be a fan. I left early for Borgore.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Cocoa Butter Kisses
2. Favorite Song
3. Juice

Borgore

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Genre: EDM

LEAVING CHANCE THE RAPPER EARLY WAS THE BEST DECISION OF THE DAY! I had an amazing time at Borgore, and not just because Chance was terrible. My favorite part of the weekend, was definetly the James Dean stage. Everytime I went there throughout the weekend, there was an Israeli group that was carrying around a huge Israeli flag. Water bottles were flying overhead, and girls were every other shoulder. I would’ve paid $200 just to spend the weekend there. Borgore drew a pretty impressive crowd, and I’m really glad I got to see at least part of it.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Decisions
2. Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse
3. Wild Out

R3hab

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Genre: EDM

Rehab wasn’t in my original plan. After Borgore, I was going to get dinner and head over to John Mayer. Rehab came on a minute after Borgore, and as soon as he came on I HAD to stay. It was like I was in an EDM trance. Everyone I heard at that stage was amazing, and I wish I had spent more time there. Definetly go to the James Dean stage if its the same layout next year.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Samurai- Tiesto Remix
2. Revolution
3. Flashlight

John Mayer

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Genre: Acoustic Rock

After Rehab, I stopped for a water break, and then headed over to see John Mayer, which already started. His music is pretty mellow, so it was really funny when my friend and I turned around to see two girls fighting, pulling hair and screaming. It was quite entertaining. At this point we were really hungry, and left the John Mayer stage, and went to get burgers from a food truck. We watched the concert, from big screens placed around the venue. I wish I had invested the time to get a good spot, because his performance was amazing, but there were so many more people there on Sunday.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Your Body is a Wonderland
2. Wildfire
3. Waiting on the World to Change

Steve Aioki

Steve Aoki with Jay Z, Beyonce and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti
Steve Aoki with Jay Z, Beyonce and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

Genre: EDM

So much fun to watch live! Unlike a lot of other DJs, Steve Aioki brought a lot of the singers from his songs to perform them live with him. He easily threw a dozen cakes, which for those of you that don’t know if called getting “caked”. It’s when he throws a bunch of full size birthday cakes into the audience. He also popped a bottle of champagne into the audience, and sprayed it. Just like Afrojack, Steve Aioki has the ability to make everyone in the audience, all the way to the back, dance. Highly highly recommend seeing him live because there’s so much happening onstage beyond DJing. For example, Mayor Eric Garcetti joined him onstage to thank Jay Z for an amazing weekend.

Top 3 Songs:
1. Boneless
2. Rage the Night Away
3. Turbulence

Kanye West

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Genre: Rap

Yeezus. A “creative genius”. An arrogant jerk. Kanye. Call him what you want, but this man can but on a great show. With red flashing screens, and a red background, he came out adorned in what appeared to be a bedazzled ski mask. He started out with “Black Skinhead” and continued on to play a plethora of hit songs. Kanye, by far brought out the biggest crowd. Since I stayed until the end of Steve Aioki, I didn’t want to take my chances and get trampled, so I watched from steps far past the stage. The audience was packed to the brim, and even far away it was still fairly crowded. While I can’t deny that I love many songs by Kanye, I came out of the concert laughing because he was ridiculous and pompous. He stopped the concert several times to address the “haters”, to try to form “circles” and make Mosh pits because “that’s how we do it in Europe”, and remind us to tell our grandchildren about the time we saw Kanye in concert. Sorry Yeezus, but your concert wasn’t that good.

Top 3 Songs:

ALL OF THEM. EVER.

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