Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 7:35 PM
Filed Under: Music & Nightlife
Claire Elise Boucher, better known by her stage name Grimes, performs at Made in America Festival in Philadelphia on August 31, 2014. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

Following Danny Brown's outrageously fun set at the Liberty Stage is another artist known for her "outrageous" creations: Canadian artist Grimes, who blanketed the late afternoon with trippy, surrealist tunes, drawn mostly from her 2012 record Visions.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012, the blue-haired ingenue, born Claire Boucher, has amassed a surprisingly wide fan base, from the indie tastemakers at Pitchfork to the style elite. It's not surprising, given her cohesive and wildly unique creative vision, which manages to touch on so many familiar tropes (think: pop, new wave, trip-hop) while still sounding immediately identifiable as emerging from her restless mind.

Since 2013, Boucher's been a member of fest curator Jay Z's management co. Roc Nation; this perhaps explains her inclusion on an otherwise rap- and rock- (and male-) dominated lineup.

POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 6:41 PM

The Made In America crowd seemed evenly split among genders.

Up on stage, though, it was a bro fest.

How much of a bro fest? So much so that Claire Boucher, the Canadian indie electro mixmaster who performs as Grimes, was the only female-fronted act to perform on either of the main stages all weekend long at the Philadelphia half of the festival.

Grimes performs during Day 2 of the Made in America Festival in Philadelphia on August 31, 2014. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Inquirer Staff Photographer )
POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 5:22 PM

Kongos, who played on the Liberty Stage, is a group made up of four brothers from Phoenix by way of their native South Africa. They are four sons of John Kongos, the South African rocker who hit the U.S. charts a couple of times in the 1970s (think: "He's Gonna Step on You Again"). The family connection may partly explain their sound, which is tighter than shrink wrap. They play an infectious brand of whatever passes for swamp boogie in Johannesburg.

Of course they add  their own alien elements. On “Kids These Days,” Johnny Kongos delivered what must have been the festival’s first accordion solo. And it was pretty avant garde.

Kongos’  full-tilt approach recalled Philly rockers Marah. “I’m Only Joking” rolled on a thundering Adam and the Ants beat.

Drummer Jesse Kongos the Kongos performs on the Liberty Stage during Made In America 2014 at the Philadelphia Art Museum along the Ben Franklin Parkway on Sunday, August 31, 2014. ( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )
POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 5:11 PM
Filed Under: Music & Nightlife
Danny Brown performs at Made in America on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday, August 31, 2014. This image is a double exposure. (Stephanie Aaronson / Philly.com )

Things are beginning to heat up here at Made in America, as crowds pour in and temperatures rise. But there’s free water, cold beer, and more importantly, quirky, weirdo vibes, this time courtesy of Detroit rapper Danny Brown.

Known for his antics and individuality, the 33-year-old rapper boasts a history of turning heads: his 2011 record XXX was a debauched romp through sex, drugs, and Simpsons references; he cites both Dr. Seuss and dealing drugs as influences. Yet somewhere in the midst of the lewd and crazy is something vulnerable and real, that resonates with listeners in unexpected ways. Danny Brown seems like the kind of dude you could invite to a party and he would be so much fun and have drugs for everyone—but also like the kind of dude you could sit down for coffee with and he’d probably blow your mind with interesting things to say.

He takes the stage at MIA 15 minutes late, after his DJ hypes the crowd for what seems like forever. By the time he finally appears, grinning his signature gap-toothed grin, everyone is super pumped, cheeeing and dancing with abandon.

POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 5:08 PM

Compton rapper YG received the nastiest intro of the weekend, as he was hailed by his hype man, Slim 400, with a declamation that freely mixed the "n" and "f" words.

That semantic linking continued and increased during YG's chaotic, abbreviated performance.

On songs like "I Just Wanna Party" and "Don't Tell 'Em," his West Coast style was notably belligerent, both in content and delivery.

Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson, aka YG, performs at Made in America Festival in Philadelphia on August 31, 2014. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)
POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 5:02 PM

The rain started to fall as Danny Brown's time slot came up on the Liberty Sunday afternoon. (Reader, my iPhone screen is getting wet as I type this.)

The other notable thing about the start of the Detroit rapper's set: Brown wasn't anywhere to be seen.

Instead, a DJ who seemed to have migrated from the EDM Freedom Stage entertained the perfectly happy, bouncing-around-in-the-drizzle crowd with a selection of skittering, kinetic beats. Perhaps Brown had gone AWOL with AWOLNation, the act scheduled to follow him on the Rocky stage?

Danny Brown performs at Made in America on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday, August 31, 2014. This image is a double exposure. (Stephanie Aaronson / Philly.com )
POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 4:21 PM

New York band Bleachers opened with “Wild Heart,” a song that might have been written for the occasion. “They closed the Parkway late last night,” goes the first line.

The band, the side project of Fun guitarist Jack Antonoff, delivered a rich rock sound with a lot of shake, rattle, and roll folded in. On go-for-broke songs like “Rollercoaster,” they could have passed for a Jersey Shore band at a last-night-of-the-season gig.

It was all prelude to their big wheels anthem “I Want to Get Better,” on which their two-drummer array really paid off. Hate to say it, but this was more fun than Fun.

Bleachers play on the Rocky Stage during Made in America Festival in Philadelphia on August 31, 2014. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
POSTED: Sunday, August 31, 2014, 3:33 PM

It was an all-Philly affair on the Skate Park Stage in the early afternoon, with bouncy pop song of Cruisr (recently signed to Vagrant records) giving way to Nothing, Dominic Palermo’s dream-pop project, which debuted on Upper Darby metal label Relapse Records this year with Guilty of Everything. At Made In America, the band’s set, delayed by sound problems at the start and plagued by more midway through, nonetheless succeeded in building shrieking, squealing songs that layered dreamy vocals under sheets of noise while moving momentously forward toward a galvanic finish.

— Dan DeLuca

For more coverage of Made in America 2014: http://data.inquirer.com/thetalk

About this blog
Encompassing the sounds and beats of the city, we're here to turn you on to the local notables and under-the-radar artists, while showing you more of the bands and hot spots you already know and love.

Allie Volpe philly.com
Gabrielle Bonghi Philly.com
Kate Bracaglia Philly.com Music Blogger
Sarah Paolantonio hippiesandhipsters.com
Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
Nick Vadala Philly.com
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected