The lineup for the fourth annual Budweiser Made in America festival has been announced, and the big star headliners are pop queen Beyonce, who also headlined in 2013 (and is married to festival curator Jay Z) and Canadian crooner The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) who was also recently featured at the Roots Picnic.
Here's the full list of names playing the fest:
Axwell & Ingrosso
Death Cab For Cutie
De La Soul
Young Rising Sons
Grits & Biscuits
Strand of Oaks
The two acts will top the bill on the Labor Day weekend fest on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on September 5 and 6. With both Beyonce and The Weeknd on board, this will be the first year that the fest does not feature one headliner from mainstream rock. This year, it's more of a hip-hop and R&B festival, that includes other genres, but does not emphasize them equally.
Tickets go on sale in an American Express card holders only pre-sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, and are available to everyone else at noon on Monday June 29 at livenation.com.
MIA does have a strong electronic element. From the EDM world, there's Swedish duo Axwell & Ingrosso and California deejay producer Bassnectar the big names in the lineup. But the hip-hop bill is far more impressive, with a long list that includes Philadelphia street rhymer Meek Mill, whose long awaited album Dreams Worth More Than Money comes out Monday, Carolina rapper and singer J. Cole, who also played the fest last year, Kanye West cohort Big Sean, old school heroes De La Soul, Atlanta rapper Future, red hot hitmaker DJ Mustard, food obsessed emcee Action Bronson and Odd Future lyricist Earl Sweatshirt, among others. Nick Jonas represents on the pure pop side.
For straight up rock, in lieu of a big draw headliner, there's Pacific Northwest alt-rockers Moderst Mouse, indie stalwarts Death Cab For Cutie and Emily Haines fronted Canadians Metric. That would make for a strikingly weak rock lineup were it not for a series of local Philadelphia acts that have been making national names for themselves, there to save the day. They include Katie Crutchfield's songwriting project Waxahatchee, Tim Showalter's bruising, emotive Strand Of Oaks, space-rock foursome Creepoid and Hop Along, the arresting indie rock foursome fronted by singer Frances Quinlan. There's some sterling local talent, too, in the not-so-easy-to-pigeonhole betwen genre world, with Santi White, the homegrown alt-pop stylist known as Santigold, and electro duo Marian Hill.
After going it alone in Philadelphia for its first two years, MIA expanded to Los Angeles to become a bi-coastal festival in 2014, happening simultaneously (if three hours behind schedule). Attendance reports were unimpressive, however, and reportedly problems with noise and crowd control in the city's Grant Park have nixed it this year. There's been some confusion about the MIA brand as well, with Budweiser presenting a free Mary J. Blige concert last weekend at Liberty State Park in New Jersey that was under the MIA banner, but was not a Philly size festival.
When Made in America debuted as the first ever ticketed event on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 2012, Mayor Michael Nutter said offered "a spectacular opportunity" for the city.
So, has it been a spectacular success?
"We've had three great MIA festivals," Nutter said in a recent interview. "Jay Z and his team have really helped to elevate the profile of the city nationally and internationally. And all these events really start to build on one another, as we've talked about over the years."
Made In America puts about $10 million into the local economy, in terms of food and drink, shopping and hotels, according to the Mayor. But he said the festival's true impact can't be measured in dollars and cents.
When Jay Z decided to come to Philadelphia "for a festival he could hold anywhere in the United States," Nutter saids, "it sends a signal to the marketplace that this is a special city. It's about building a brand. Anyone who's looked at Philadelphia in the past few years has seen this constant array of big events that's added to our reputation as a big event city. And the folks at the DNC" - the Democratic National Convention, coming to town in the summer of 2016 - "saw that, and saw that this is a city that puts on big events."
He points to annual happenings like the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, the Welcome America festival coming on July 4 with R & B singer Miguel, country vocalist Jennifer Nettles and The Roots, and the Forbes magazine 30 Under 30 conference, which was held for the first time last October in Philadelphia and is coming back this year.
"Wawa Welcome America has been a fantastic event for the city for more than 20 years," Nutter said. "We have between 500- to 700,000 people on the Parkway for that. I'm sure that the Vatican took that into consideration for the World Meeting of Families, which had never been in the United States before, when they were deciding where to go. They chose Philadelphia because we know how to put on big events."
Nutter, who should be happy with this year's lineup since he ranks seeing Beyonce in 2013 as his personal MIA highlight, has been highly praised by both the Budweiser and Jay Z camps for his role in bringing the festival to the city - as well as criticized by those who object to city land being used by a for-profit ticketed festival. So will it still be here after he's gone?
"I'm certainly hopeful," Nutter says. "We've always talked to Jay about a long term partnership and relationship, and it's been successful for both the city and the Jay Z-MIA team." Contractually, he says, Made in America is under contract with the city to put on the festival though 2017. "So they're here for at least a couple of years. We're anticipating that it'll be here for a number of years in the future."
Previously: Review: D'Angelo, exultant at the Keswick