Saturday afternoon in the mid-80s. The sun reflected off of the glittered arms of teens walking towards the Made in America Festival main entrance. Rather than cars, young people filled the Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. All were eager to see the 22 artists spread across four stages on day one of the two-day festival.
Teens were already planted at the Freedom and Rocky stages at 3 p.m., listening to Dominic Fike and Yoshi Flower. Later, Pink Sweat$ in blush pink sweatpants performed on the Liberty Stage. And Meshii, in mermaid top and leather, attracted audiences to the Tidal Stage.
Others checked out the numerous food vendors, the motorcyclists zooming up and down a small track, and adult games, such as human-sized beer pong. This year, the festival also set up Cause Village in its center. Organizations that advocate for criminal justice reform lined the Village to share information and resources. Jay-Z himself has been a strong proponent for criminal justice reform. He partnered with Meek Mill to launch The Reform Alliance and Roc Nation and the NFL recently announced the creation of programs to support social justice organizations.
Jay-Z and Beyonce were spotted later in the day during Anderson .Paak’s set at the Rocky Stage and stayed to watch day-one headliner, Cardi B. As with previous years, the lineup was a mix of rap, R&B, pop, indie, and eletronica artists. During the tail end of Juice Wrld’s set at the Rocky Stage, Kaskade took over the Liberty Stage. His electronica beats started a rave that lifted the spirits of all who were in the middle of the crowd and caught the attention of everyone walking by. Jorja Smith was also another highlight of the day–she played some fan favorites including “Where Did I Go,” “On My Mind,” and “Be Honest.” The R&B singer was at MIA in 2017. Many also stayed to catch Rosalía, an up and coming Latin pop singer known for “Con Altura” and “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi.”
The highlight of the night was Cardi B. She wore a rainbow bodysuit and matching heels, which eventually came off during the hour performance. Cardi B and rainbow dancers started the performance with “Get Up 10.” Although Cardi kept mentioning her asthma, which made breathing difficult, the female rapper continued to perform her top hits, dance, and shout one of her many catchphrases, “okurr!” with her tongue out. She climbed the Rocky Stage metal beams; twerked during “Money Bag.” She also did a split during Blueface’s “Thotiana.” It was hard not to watch the rapper and Bronx-native perform. Cardi put on a show and set the bar high for future MIA headliners.
Travis Scott headlines day two. We will be on-site to catch today’s highlights. We will look out for Lizzo, who’s blown up since performing at MIA in 2017, KAYTRANADA; newcomer Tierra Whack, and more. Follow us on Twitter @_theknockturnal and Instagram @theknockturnal for live updates.