PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You would be forgiven if you thought the concert was over.
Just after 11:00pm, with the Ferris Wheel glittering in the skyline and the sea of people pressed around the Parkway fountains, Jay-Z said some thank yous and launched into the ultimate closer of “Encore”.
As the final notes of the Linkin Park infused hit rang out – meant to pay tribute to the passing of singer Chester Bennington – many began their slow zombie crawl towards the exits.
However, behind the fences meant to keep the crowd in their lane, a barrage of golf carts were putting a plan into action. The crew and the star were being shuttled from the main stage on the steps of the Art Museum to the smaller Liberty stage off to the side beyond the trees. This encore was bigger than “Encore” and featured a guest performance from Philadelphia’s own Meek Mill.
The MC came with the classic “Dreams And Nightmares” while Jay dug deep into the catalog for some lesser, if ever performed cuts like “Hola’ Hovito” and “Show You How”. It was a welcomed surprise to cap off an uneven weekend for the sixth edition of Made In America.
Sunday was overcast but dry with the mud memories of Saturday still tracked across every inch of the festival. More Tough Mudder than Music Festival, the ground made for some treacherous travel from one stage to the next.
Jay was certainly the main draw for the day, but the nearly half his age 21 Savage seemed to be a close second. A late afternoon set from the “Bank Account” rapper embodied much about this year’s M.I.A., with the young crowd stacked and waiting for the new star while established MCs like Pusha T and Run The Jewels seemed to win over audiences with a siren call of brute force rhyme skills.
“Philly’s like a second home to me” boasted Pusha T from the main stage as he tore through a set littered with Kanye West features and his own drug dealing anthems. As the president of Kanye’s record label, he spoke about his new album on the way completely produced by West.
Meanwhile, while the “old head” hip hop fans were digging on some Clipse classics the kids were vaping out on the lawn. Lots of sloppy kissing and basketball jerseys, oddly enough in front of the “Cause Village” where United Way, Red Cross, and others gathered to get some informed. More importantly though it was a place to stretch out and bring the whole crew from homeroom.
Also on this hill was the Skate Stage. This is the bin in which Made In America put the bulk of their rock acts this weekend.
The brightest among them might have been Philadelphia’s own Beach Slang who ripped through their heart-on-their-sleeve songs but made room for Santana jokes and some 90’s karaoke.
The lead up to Jay-Z began with Run The Jewels. The muddy fields began to fill as the all-star rap duo balanced hilarious banter and battle-ready hip hop. Then they got to dancing with a set from The Chainsmokers dotted with huge hits and fireworks and Marshmello who spun sped-up hits from everyone else. A sketch shtick about The Chainsmokers equipment breaking was an eye roll but overlookable because they have the songs and everyone seemed primed for a good time.
All these fireworks and sensory assaults made way for Jay-Z, who had almost none of that. The festival curator and main attraction performed beneath a giant Balloon Dog created by artist Jeff Koons, but left any effects and spectacle to speak through his own words.
“Philly you got love tonight?” shouted the “Blueprint” rapper in a back to basics performance that worked some new 4:44 material in beside classics like “Izzo” and “Empire State Of Mind”.
Before a mosh-worthy performance of “99 Problems”, Jay stopped down to pay homage to the people of Houston. “I hope you can hear us Houston. We’re with you. We love you.”
This was followed by a celebration of one of H Town’s own, Beyoncé – who got an early celebration of her birthday with not one, but two birthday songs sung by the crowd.
“Shout out to my beautiful B in the house tonight. Happy Birthday my love” exclaimed Jay.
If this is the final year for Made In America, it went out in poetic form. It was a showcase for some new talent, a chance to see some huge hip hop acts, it featured some Jay-Z surprises, and Beyoncé’s presence loomed over the whole event. That seems about right.