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Pearl Jam Brings Politics, Jay-Z, To The Stage At Made In America Day Two

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Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam/photo credit: Maria Ives

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam/photo credit: Maria Ives

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Throughout day two of the Made In America festival, fans had eyes peeled for the event’s spokesman and headliner, Jay-Z. Every appearance he made, whether on the side of another artist’s stage (he watched Janelle Monae and Gary Clark Jr.), walking through the crowd (with a security force) or even strolling through the media area (not to talk to the media: he needed to use a portajohn) caused a frenzy.

But other than his own performance Saturday night, the only other time he grabbed a microphone was when he joined Pearl Jam on stage towards the end of their set for a rousing mashup of their “W.M.A.” and his “99 Problems.” But there were many great performances before that incredible collaboration.

PHOTOS: Made In America Festival

Day two was opened by former Eurovision contestant Rita Ora, who is now signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. Her high energy set pulled a good crowd (considering that she hit the stage at 2 pm) and despite the fact that she flew in from London just for this show, she kept the energy high throughout her 45 minute set.

Santigold was the first artist to play the main stage. Backed by her group of Devo-esque musicians and backing dancers, her robotic pop songs, including “Disparate Youth” and “L.E.S. Artistes” rivaled day one’s Dirty Projectors for quirkiness, but got many more fans dancing.

If you wanted to dance and you are a rock and roll fan, you can’t do any better than Sweden’s Hives, who specifically demand that the audience move their feet. While many rock bands reject the style and swagger that Jay-Z and other hip-hop artists prioritize, The Hives hit the stage all wearing top hats and tuxedoes (while their roadies’ dress code was all black, including black masks, to, apparently, hide their identities). But their punky classics “Hate To Say I Told You So,” “Main Offender” and “Tick Tick Boom,” riled up the crowd who yelled along with singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist. Fans who hadn’t paid attention since their commercial heyday of the early to late-mid-2000s probably realized that they should never have stopped following this band, and they likely gained some new fans as well.

The Hives were a big contrast to Jill Scott, but she had the “hometown” advantage over most of the lineup. A native of Philadelphia, her neo-soul hits “Gettin’ In The Way” and “A Long Walk” had the crowd singing along to every word. But her performance was taken up a notch when fellow Philadelphian Eve (who performed the night before in New Jersey at the Rock The Bells festival) joined her for her big hit, “Blow Ya Mind.”

Gary Clark Jr. returned to play Made In America for a second day in a row, this time on the smaller Liberty Stage. The crowd seemed larger in a more condensed area, and there was an additional draw: Jay-Z and Beyonce were on the side of the stage, dancing the bluesman’s psychedelic fretwork and soulful singing.

One of the emotional highlights of the day was Run-D.M.C.’s performance, marking their return from retirement: as the Reverend Run noted, he and D.M.C. decided to end the group after their DJ Jam Master Jay was killed in 2002. The video screen above the stage read “Jam Master Jay Forever” throughout the show, and Run and D.M.C. had Jay’s sons, both DJs, join them on stage. Both Jason Mizell Jr. and TJ Mizell, performed brief sets on the turntables. The re-activated group’s show was celebratory and fun: when addressing the fact that people are still surprised that he’s an ordained minister, Run said, “I can marry you or bury you!” pointing out that he hasn’t lost his edge. Neither have their classics like “King Of Rock,” “It’s Tricky” and their Aerosmith collaboration “Walk This Way” (one of the first songs that broke down the walls between rock and hip-hop, directly leading to cross genre audience that made up Made In America).

Edge was in no short supply for hip-hop collective Odd Future (short for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All), a high-energy, rambunctious group who encourage moshing at their concerts. They marked a huge contrast to the much more refined sound of former Degrassi: The Next Generation star Drake, who has a much smoother sound (and he sings as well as raps). After his set, there was a small exodus, as he was the final (announced) hip-hop performer of the weekend. He mentioned multiple times during his set what an honor it was for him to “open” for Pearl Jam.

Although technically, he was opening for legendary L.A. punk band X, making one of the most bizarre transitions of the day: an artist from a generation who values flash and record sales to one that is suspicious of both. That suspicion is apparent in their sales, which never came close to matching their influence: Pearl Jam are disciples, and it’s likely that they helped to get X booked(it’s unlikely that X would be on Jay-Z’s radar). As with all classic punk rock shows, the fans concentrate on who is there, not who isn’t, and the audience was rapt during a set that included three decade old classics “Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not,” “Johnny Hit And Run Pauline,” “Nausea,” their cover of The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen” (The Doors’ Ray Manzarek produced their first three albums) and “The Unheard Music.”

Of course, Pearl Jam was the big event, and they did pull a huge crowd. Some rock fans showed up late in the day just to see them (Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell was originally scheduled to play an acoustic set earlier in the day, but pulled out the festival), while many hip-hop fans stuck around to check out a legendary band. Their two hour set (the longest of the weekend) included hits “Evenflow,” “Daughter,” “The Fixer,” “Do The Evolution,” “Jeremy” and “Alive.” But a good part of the set included lesser-known tracks like “Go,” “Got Some” and “rearviewmirror.” There was no sense that the band, who change their setlist every night, was going too heavy on hits to cater to the crowd.

Singer Eddie Vedder didn’t hold back on sharing his thoughts on the upcoming election, either. He noted that “One political party, we’re not mentioning names, is trying to make it harder to vote in certain places.” He said he hoped this would inspire people to be even more determined to vote in November, before launching into a cover of The Clash’s “Know Your Rights.”

Before “Unemployable,” he said “A lot of job creators are creating a lot of jobs for other countries. We’d like to see more things made in America.” Jay-Z, watching from the side of the stage, had to be smiling: his festival kept even the least corporate band, Pearl Jam, “on brand.” (And it’s worth noting that Made In America’s t-shirts were indeed, made in America).

The highlight, and the news story, was their collaboration (fan-shot videos were posted online within minutes) but Pearl Jam’s entire set had the audience energized from start to finish: after Jay-Z left the stage, they did one more song, Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World.” The band wrapped by their 11 pm curfew as construction crews walked towards the stage to start tearing it down. Final tallies of attendance and gross have yet to be announced, but it looks like a sure bet that Made In America will return to Philadelphia in 2013.

– Brian Ives, CBS Local

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