In the face of rain and humidity, thousands of concertgoers in rain jackets and patriotic colors swarmed Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Philadelphia’s first annual Made In America festival this Labor Day weekend.
Over 30 artists performed at the two-day concert, including Jay-Z, Pearl Jam, Miike Snow, Drake and Calvin Harris.
Event organizers had hoped for at least 50,000 attendees each day. According to Mayor Michael Nutter, there were 41,000 goers on Saturday and 39,000 on Sunday.
Nutter, a 1979 Wharton graduate, called the event a “great success for the city,” because it not only reinforced Philadelphia’s reputation as a music town, but it also boosted the local economy for nearby hotels and restaurants.
The festival was also streamed by YouTube and Pandora and created some buzz for the city.
“This is getting international exposure for the city and showing what a great city Philadelphia is to visit if they weren’t able to come to this,” Nutter said.
The festival was comprised of three stages for performers and one massive tent for dancing to house music by DJs Afrojack and Alesso, among others. Thousands danced, jumped, sang and pumped their fists in the air as fog blasted out from tubes and rave lights flashed to the beat of the music.
The foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was home to the main stage, where Jay-Z kicked off the festival Saturday night. Fans rapped and danced to Jay-Z’s performance as a few others pushed through the crowd to inch closer to him. Between bouts of drizzle, Pearl Jam closed the two-day concert on Sunday, performing his well-known hits such as “Alive” and “Better Man.”
Attendees were accommodated with free water refills and tents for Wi-Fi and cell phone chargers. Dozens of white tents were set up for merchandise, food and drinks, including Budweiser bars, beer carts, a custom t-shirt stand and a tattoo body shop.
College sophomore Michelle Chen said that many of the artists performed at the same time as one another, so “you won’t be able to see [all] your favorite ones.” Chen added that concertgoers had to stage hop, which was not pleasing.
Many said the rain on Sunday did not stop them from enjoying Made In America. “Even though it was raining it was nice because it cooled you off,” Chen said.
College junior Sykes Radford added that the weather didn’t dampen the experience at all. “I think everyone forgot about the weather because they were having so much fun.”
Students expressed excitement and said they would go again if Philadelphia hosts another concert next year. The city is waiting to see if this year’s concert was a financial success to decide the fate of a Made in America 2013.
“It’s comparable to Fling, but I think Made in America may have topped Fling because it was a festival and there were so many different performers,” Radford said.
“They had good mix of a lot of different types of artists, which I thought was really cool,” College senior Jerry Chen said. “I really liked the DJs there, like Afrojack.”
Michelle Chen agreed that the Freedom Tent where the DJs performed was her favorite. “Overall it was really good,” she said. “If they had it next year I would probably go again.”