For two years, Philadelphia had the Budweiser Made In America festival all to itself.
Last month, however, it was announced that the Jay-Z curated fest would go bi-coastal in 2014., taking place simultaneously both here and in Los Angeles on Labor Day weekend.
Whatever agita that news created - was Made in America going Hollywood? Would the Left Coast take all the best acts? - was calmed downed when it was announced that Kanye West will headline MIA in Philadelphia, which this year on August 30 and 31 on the Ben Franklin Parkway.
West is the most polarizing - and one of the most talented - figures in pop music, and his presence at the top of the bill guarantees that MIA will be anything but dull. (It also raises hope that he'll follow the command peformance of marrying Kim Kardashian in Italy this weekend with an album of new material this summer.)
There are plenty of other name-in-lights acts on the Philadelphia bill, starting with goofy hat-wearing "Happy" hitmaker Pharrell Williams, who is the most ubiquitous figure on pop in 2014. Also on hand, in a bill that draws from mainstream rock, electronic dance music and hip-hip, with a smidgen of indie: DJ superstar Tiesto, brooding Brooklyn rockers The National, Southern family band Kings of Leon, old school hip-hoppers De La Soul, retro-soul man Mayer Hawthorne, one-woman band Grimes, sample master Girl Talk and Austin, Texas indie stalwarts Spoon.
Jay-Z is not listed among the attractions in either city. Does that mean the rapper, who played opening night in Philadelphia in 2012 and attended last year (when his wife Beyonce, with whom he'll play Citizens Bank Park July 5, was the headliner) is not going to show up on either coast? Not at all. The smart money says he'll be at both, either performing or just observing,for quality control purposes.
The Los Angeles bill does not measure up in comparison to the Philly lineup. Headliners are guitar-hero singer-songwriter John Mayer and Las Vagas mainstream rockers Imagine Dragons (who played MIA in Philadelphia last year).
The City of Angels bill includes rappers Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q (also at MIA in Philly last year), as well as Cypress Hill and Chance the Rapper. Rivers Cuomo's pop-rock band Weezer, ska stalwarts Sublime with Rome and deejay Wolfgang Gartner will appear, along The with big name dance music act Afrojack, also an MIA Philly vet. Colombian star Juanes will provide Latin flavor or Southern California's Spanish speaking population.
Electronic dance acts R#HAB, Steve Aoki and Gareth Emery, plus YG, will play both Philadelphia and L.A. But can they do it in one day, like Phil Collins did by flying across the Atlantic on the Concord in to play London and Philadelphia in 1985? Maybe they'll all fly across the country in Jay Z's jet.
West also played the inaugural Made In America in 2012, as an unannounced special guest of festival headliner and honcho Jay-Z. The rapper-producer-lightning rod is getting married to fiance Kardashian in Italy this weekend.
The self-proclaimed Yeezus genius is the most prominent hip-hop act on the bill by far. But along with Daisy Age rapper De La Soul - much-loved for for their trippy 1989 debut album 3 Feet High and Rising, there's also some young talent on the bill, in the form of Compton up and comer YG - which stands for Young Gangsta, naturally - as well as Danny Brown, the Detroit MC whose wildly creative Old gave Yeezus a run for its money as the rap album of 2013.
The Philly lineup is particularly thin on female acts. (For the uninitiated, Girl Talk is a guy; Pittsburgh dance music maker Gregg Gillis.) The most notable woman on the bill is Grimes, Canadian producer Claire Boucher. The L.A. lineup is only slightly better, with Emily Haines of Metric and Rita Ora and precious few others.
I've got a couple of suggestions to make Jay Z's Made In America a little less of a boy's club. 1) Book Lily Allen, for a Yeezus vs. Sheezus face-off. And 2) Can I get a Solange? She played in Philly last year, put her in L.A. this year. (Maybe on the day Jay isn't there, just to be safe.)
The only Philadelphia act playing in its hometown is Vacationer, the pop tropicalia band fronted by Kenny Vasoli, who identify themself as promonents of "American Nu-Hula" music. In L.A.., however, both Abington raied singer ZZ Ward and Philly band Dr. Dog are on the MIA schedule.
Tickets to the Philadelphia Made in America are on sale though LiveNation and are available here.