Sunday, October 4, 2015

POSTED: Sunday, September 6, 2015, 4:57 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Santigold brings it at the Liberty Stage during day two of Made In America along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday, September 6, 2015. ( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )

Santigold wins the Made In America costume design prize. The songwriter and pastiche artist raised in Mt. Airy as Santi White made a return MIA performance - she also played at the first one in 2012 - and took to the stage with an exaggeratedly oversize orange ribbon in her hair. Her blue plaid jumpsuit contrasted with her two playful lockstep dancers' yellow plaid getups.

Along with the cool clothes, Santigold played a bright, engaging set heavy on her 2008 debut, with its heavily synced (in TV shows and commercials) songs like "L.E.S. Artistes" and "Creator," the latter of which ended in a free-for-all on stage dance-off among audience members, which at least had the effect of easing the packed-to-the-gills crowd gathered on the grounds before them.

POSTED: Sunday, September 6, 2015, 4:50 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Action Bronson performs on the Rocky Stage at Made in America, on Sunday, September 6 2015. (Avi Steinhardt/ For the Philadelphia Inquirer)

Made In America Day 2 got a mid-afternoon hip-hop one two punch, with Philly rapper Freeway showing up at the end of the Liberty Stage set by Brooklyn rapper Fabolous. 

Nothing like a mash-up of your 2 favorite rappers @myfabolouslife & #2pac #AmbitionzAzAhRidah & #CantDenyIt #RIPNateDogg #Tupac #Fabolous #Loso #MadeInAmerica #MIA #Philadelphia #philly #HipHop #Music

A video posted by Phil Peters (@altidudedmv) on Sep 6, 2015 at 1:22pm PDT

POSTED: Sunday, September 6, 2015, 3:12 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Halsey performs at the Rocky Stage during day two of Made In America along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday, September 6, 2015. ( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )

The Made In America Day 2 main stage action kicked off on Sunday afternoon in front of the Art Museum with Halsey, the rising combo hip-hop and rock artist born Ashley Frangipane. She hails from North Jersey, but her debut album is called Badlands, and were it not for MIA headliner The Weeknd’s bigger-selling Beauty Behind The Madness, it would be set to debut as the number 1 album in the country this week.

At times, Halsey’s talk-singing, on songs like “Colors,” is reminiscent of Lorde, and the teal-haired, f-bomb dropping 20-year-old songwriter clearly has huge commercial potential as a rebel heroine for a young audience. On Sunday, she earned points for her heartfelt expression of how much it meant to her to play the MIA fest so close to home.
“People from New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia have a certain tenaciousness that no one else understands,” she correctly noted. She also brought out her parents on stage and talked about how her mixed racial background influenced her music, from her father’s Tupac records to her mother’s Nirvana albums. (Kurt Cobain has repeatedly been acknowledged as a rock god by millennial acts this MIA weekend.) But the set-closing wannabe generational anthem “New Americana,” with which she meant to express that mash-up, was ham-handed and grating.

POSTED: Saturday, September 5, 2015, 8:58 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Ben Gibbard and his band Death Cab for Cutie performed at Made in American on September 5, 2015. (Photo: by Cassandra Hannagan/Getty Images)

Despite their fearsome name, Death Cab For Cutie might have been the softest act booked into a major slot at this year’s MIA, which is filled with tough-guy rappers and one fierce female headliner.

But while the Ben Gibbard-fronted Seattle singer-songwriter band were far from a natural fit, the mellow vibes they put forth as darkness fell on the Liberty Stage worked well with a crowd ready to chill out (if not slump to the ground) after an all-day diet of 20-ounce Budweisers. Death Cab opened with “The New Year,” from the 2003 album Transatlanticism and closed with the title cut from that album.

While the young, hip-hop friendly and eager-for-Beyoncé crowd didn’t seem familiar with Gibbard’s well-wrought, earnest plaints, those still standing bopped amiably along nonetheless, and on the more energetic songs, you might have mistaken Death Cab for a dance band.

POSTED: Saturday, September 5, 2015, 8:11 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music

After this Labor Day weekend, summer is unofficially over, and it seems the Meek Mill-Drake rap feud is finished, too.

On the Rocky Stage on Saturday night, North Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill came out with the bearing of a fighter, wearing a yellow Arsenal soccer jersey and barking out rhymes with trademark fierceness. He had plenty of praise for his hometown: “One thing I know about Philly, they always show me love.” He told gritty tales of his roughneck beginnings while pledging to stay true to the streets: “Anybody who knew me when I had nothing and knows me now that I have all this money knows I remain the same.” But he never mentioned the name of his Canadian rival.

Jst as well: Who needs Drake, when you’ve got Nicki Minaj? Meek was fiery and entertaining throughout his set, and he charmed the crowd by bringing his son, whom he introduced as Papi, out to dance to Silento’s hit “Watch Me.” And he worked the crowd into a frenzy, closing with his best song, the majestic “Dreams More than Nightmares.”

POSTED: Saturday, September 5, 2015, 7:28 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Strand of Oaks is the nominal alter ego of Tim Showalter.

Make no mistake: Strand of Oaks know how to jam.

In a difficult time slot (6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.), Showalter and company managed to attract a sizable crowd despite playing simultaneously with Tanlines, DJ Mustard, and North Philly’s Meek Mill.

The project of Timothy Showalter came out of the gates hard on the Skate Stage. As cathartic as HEAL, the last Strand of Oaks record, was, live is where Showalter lets his demons out. When he sings, “I spent two long years losing my mind,” on the album’s title track, you see his purpose and pain. They resonate in his vocals and body language.

Allie Volpe @ 7:28 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, September 5, 2015, 6:41 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Nick Jonas performs at the Liberty Stage during day one of Made In America along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, September 5, 2015. ( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )

Watch out, world — Nick Jonas is all grown up.

The former boy-band star traded in his brotherly past for a sexy new look and sound — and the changes definitely suit him. Playing the front man we knew he could be, Jonas swanked and swaggered across the Liberty Stage as he crooned through songs from his debut under his own name.

At points, the set felt a little too perfectly coiffed — the guy's had years of band and Broadway experience, after all. But Jonas added a little texture with covers of Outkast’s “Roses,” as well as “I Can’t Feel My Face, a tune by Sunday night’s closing act, The Weeknd; and Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison.”

Allie Volpe @ 6:41 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, September 5, 2015, 5:58 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Waxahatchee, the band fronted by Alabama-born Katie Crutchfield, will be playing several SXSW shows. (MICHAEL RUBENSTEIN)

Katie Crutchfield is home.

“We don’t have a set list. We’re going rogue tonight,” Crutchfield said as Waxahatchee began their Skate Stage set with “Under A Rock,” off of her fantastic third LP, Ivy Tripp.

Rocking a full band, flanked by twin sister Allison of Swearin’ on guitar and backing vocals, Philly’s Waxahatchee charmed with emotional, detail-ridden tunes, seldom clocking in at more than three minutes. It’s part of what makes Crutchfield so alluring: her ability to outline moments of angst succinctly.

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