10 artists you didn’t realize are playing Made In America this weekend
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be teeming with music and meyhem this weekend when the annual Made In America festival kicks into gear Saturday at noon. There are some incredible big names on the bill – the brilliant Solange and the charismatic J. Cole; the emotive Sampha, whose record Process is one of 2017’s best; Philly-rooted pop sensations Marian Hill, who play the main stage on Saturday; and of course Jay-Z himself, returning to the festival stage to celebrate his latest outing 4:44.
But there’s been a modest amount of grumbling about the lineup this year, in no small part because the polarizing dance-pop outfit The Chainsmokers are a co-headliner on Sunday night. People are either “I passionately hate this band and all that they stand for” or “yay music, I listen to whatever’s on the radio!” — and for those in the former camp, once they saw The Chainsmokers’ name on the lineup, they stopped reading further. But as always, the Made in America undercard is reliably awesome, and the early-afternoon slots as well as the out-of-the-way spots (helloooooo Skate Stage) are packed with goodness.
Here are ten artists that you maybe didn’t realize are playing Made in America, but who you definitely should not miss. – John Vettese
Queen of Jeans – Saturday, 1:15 p.m., Skate Stage
Philly’s Queen of Jeans throws it back and slows it down with somber-pop 60’s vibes at the Skate Stage. The local outfit has been out and about lately — from crushing the Philly scene, to recently capping a tour with Balance and Composure. Now take heed from the track below by getting off your ass and dancing away at Queen of Jeans’ retro, melodic set. – Megan Cooper
Rapsody – Saturday, 2 p.m., Rocky Stage
Compelling North Carolina rhyme-sayer Marlanna Evans, aka Rapsody, got a big rush of attention in 2015 when she popped up in spotlight-stealing verse on “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” on Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus To Pimp A Butterfly. But did you know she’s been spitting rhymes since 2009 and her debut LP, The Idea of Beautiful, is five years old? Last fall, Rapsody released the fantastic Crown project, her first outing since the K-dot bump, and this Saturday she kicks off the Made in America party on the Rocky Stage. – J.V.
Lizzo– Saturday, 3 p.m., Liberty Stage
Lyrically, Minneapolis sensation Lizzo is a force of feminism, body-positivity and emotional uplifit. Musically, she’s got jams on jams on jams…seriously, hit play on “Good As Hell,” I don’t care who you are or what you normally listen to, you’ll be on your feet. Lizzo, her band, her DJ and dancers, will hit the Liberty Stage Saturday just in time for your afternoon dose of awesome. – J.V.
Mt. Joy – Saturday, 3 p.m. Skate Stage
The LA-based, Philly-bred indie folk group Mt. Joy has had quite an expansive year — both in band size and deserved recognition. After their tune “Astrovan” went viral online, the once-duo between high school friends, Sam Cooper and Matt Quinn, now grooves as an outfit of five. After playing some major festivals this summer, they’re here to bring some (probably very-likely-needed) laid-back breeziness to MIA. Drink up the good vibes at the Skate Stage for a soulful and rhythmic midday retreat. And below, watch a person beat up a Donald Trump pinata while the catchy and political “Sheep” floats on. – M.C.
Mannequin Pussy – Saturday, 4 p.m., Skate Stage
I’m torn, honestly, because Philadelphia punk powerhouses Mannequin Pussy rock the Skate Stage at 4, while Sampha takes the Rocky Stage at 4:15. The good news though is I’ll at least get to see Manny P burn through 12 to 14 songs of their setlist before it’s time for me to hustle up the Parkway. Last year’s Romantic LP was a step up for the band, polishing away the overblown fuzz of their debut but keeping the punk-as-F attitude in songs that were as emotionally cathartic as they were politically enraged. It was a solid audio artifact of one of the best live bands playing right now…so don’t miss your chance to see Marissa Dabice & co play. – J.V.
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Cardi B – Saturday, 5 p.m., Liberty Stage
Bronx rapper Belcalis “Cardi B” Almanzar couldn’t care less what you think of her. She’s a commanding vocalist, a bold force to be reckoned with, and amid all the raunch and bravado of last year’s Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 were messages of perseverance and self-determination, doing what you gotta do, not go just get by, but to thrive. She caps the Liberty Stage tomorrow afternoon. – J.V.
(Sandy) Alex G – Saturday, 5:15 p.m., Skate Stage
(Sandy) Alex G’s newest album Rocket is a lot of things. It moseys about in alt-country tones, gut sprints hardcore, and dances waywardly about in experimental, beautifully weird fashion. As this mish-mash somehow works perfectly together on the record, seeing it performed live at Union Transfer this summer showed it also makes for a strange yet still seamless live performance. Though no barking doggo was present onstage for “Poison Root” in July, let’s hope for an appearance this Saturday at the Skate Stage. – M.C.
Downtown Boys – Sunday, 2:30 p.m., Tidal Stage
After several years of bringing revolutionary rock and roll music from basements to DIY rooms to the stage of the freaking Electric Factory last year for the Project Pabst fest, Providence visionaries Downtown Boys will rage at MIA’s Tidal Stage early Sunday afternoon. Their songs boast vibrant arrangements of guitars on guitars on horns on hollers, their multilingual message is stridently anticapitalistic — but savvy enough to use the machine to convey it — and their live set always kills, particularly when they bust out the cover of Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.” Keep an eye out for Philly’s Joey Doubek of Pinkwash on drums. – J.V.
Japanese Breakfast – Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Skate Stage
Michelle Zauner’s Japanese Breakfast is quickly becoming every music publication’s indie darling with her sophomore album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet. And with good reason. Because this record isthe flippin’ bee’s knees. Atmospheric, rock-tinged, and electro-speckled, Zauner takes emotional experiences and channels them through her pop machine of talent so we can all dance around to our sadness. Listen to “Machinist” below, which Frank Ocean recently included on an episode of Blonded Radio, and don’t miss Japanese Breakfast at the Skate Stage. – M.C.
Tigers Jaw – Sunday, 6:15 p.m., Skate Stage
Though Scranton duo Tigers Jaw is known and loved for their melancholic pop punk songs, they recently stopped by A.V. Undercover to show that they also like to goof around and have a swell time. Watch the band have a ball as they playfully cover the karaoke classic, OutKast’s “Hey Ya,” below. Though, if this video your first listen to Tigers Jaw and you see them on Sunday, expect a much different experience; one light on the indoor shades and egg shakers, and heavy on the emo jams. – M.C.