Travis Scott | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Travis Scott’s wild ride wraps Made In America, but Lizzo and Tierra Whack win the day
By the time Houston rapper Travis Scott took the Rocky Stage at 10 for his headlining set, Made In America’s second day felt downright anarchic.
All the people who didn’t show up on day one, making the festival seem more sparsely attended than we’re accustomed to, turned out in force. They shimmied up light poles, climbed trees on the Parkway, and when Scott opened his frenzied set with “Stargazing” from last year’s trippy / awesome Astroworld, it seemed like some of his fans were taking the lyric “it ain’t a mosh pit if ain’t no injuries” as a challenge.
It was sweaty and messy, not not fun but also a far cry from the sprightly poppy indie rock that opened the day care of New York four piece Charly Bliss. They were a blast of positive energy to get Made In America underway, but the next set we saw — brooding uptown Philly rapper Kur — hit the first case of a recurring hitch.
With a hot new album under his belt called Shakur and a gift for working the crowd, Kur himself was great once he got onstage, but that took a while since his DJ was having technical difficulties and nobody seemed to know what to do. At one point, there were six members of the stage crew surrounding the rig and attempting to troubleshoot; this also happened during Gucci Mane’s set, and Blueface’s to a lesser extent. The setup for all three appeared to be simply a laptop and controller; how this was so complicated that the show ground to a halt multiple times is unclear.
Add into the mix a massively delayed start time on the Tidal Stage by Megan Thee Stallion, who hit 35 minutes after she was supposed to, and delay was the order of the day. (It’s worth noting that Blueface, who was ridiculously tardy at the Roots Picnic in June, took the stage reasonably close to on time, and his performance was rowdy, raunchy, and engaging, with much of it spent in the thick of the crowd with breaks to take selfies.)
The saving grace? There were three major ones. First, a soaring, rock-infused set from golden voiced London singer-songwriter Jacob Banks, who namechecked Marvin Gaye in one breath and covered Coldplay the next. He gave and impressive performance a couple NonCOMMs ago, and even though it was still early in the day when he played Made In America, it’s safe to say he won over this crowd too.
Next, a leveling set by Lizzo that opened with the full-throated belt of “Cuz I Love You” and never looked back. The Minneapolis rapper turned pop star owned the Liberty Stage crowd, whether she was rocking the stage solo on “Jerome,” getting down with her dance squad The Big Girls on “Soulmate” and “Tempo,” sermonizing about body positivity and self-love, or getting everybody on the Parkway to scream along to the current hit (and current meme) “Truth Hurts.” There are few things in this mad world that a performance by Lizzo can’t heal, and amid a chaotic day, she proved to be the right set at the right time.
And if she wasn’t a superwoman enough, Lizzo rushed over to the other side of the festival as soon as she was done to play “Truth Hurts,” again, this time with buzzing Cleveland MC Dababy for the throngs of his fans packing the Tidal Stage. Caught up in those delays, he ran much later than scheduled, but saving grace number three — Philly avant pop rap star Tierra Whack — took the stage immediately upon his finale. Focusing on her run of singles released earlier this year, including the warped soul of “Wasteland” and the bright and bouncy existential dread of “Only Child,” she rocked with the fans, stole caps from security, invited a dude up onstage to assist when the light-up fidget spinners on her jumpsuit went out, and generally reinforced her rep as somebody who not only makes genius music, but who makes her shows feel like one big casual hangout with the extended family.