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Online Student Newspaper of John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School


Made in America

Made in America


It’s been on my bucket list to attend at least one music festival in my lifetime and I made it a summer goal to see as many musical acts live as possible. I finally got my opportunity as Budweiser’s Made in America music festival came back to Philly (and only Philly this time) for the fourth year.  The list of acts was posted in June and excitement rose immediately. I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to end my summer with a bang. It took a lot of convincing for my parents to finally decide that they’d let me go.


Two day passes cost around $170, with added fees always kicking up the prices. If you waited closer until the festival arrived, your chances of getting resale tickets for much lower were pretty likely. Tickets did eventually sell out, a large amount of fans were predicted to be going solely for Beyonce who headlined the first night. Check-in started as early as noon and the festival ended late into the night. September 5th and September 6th was certainly a busy weekend on the Parkway. I actually attended a concert in New Jersey the previous night, so I knew once that weekend was over, I would feel completely wrecked.


Check-in can be fast if you worm your way around the crowd and get into the line that looked the shortest. Security would quickly check your bags and scan your ticket, and you were good to go. However, once you entered, you could not leave unless you were not planning to re enter. Because this was outdoors, many people could be seen outside the fenced area, knowing they wouldn’t be able to see, but still enjoyed to hear the music. While that free option is clever on their part, I think the experience of being inside is better. Of course with Hallahan being so close, I knew that area pretty well. However, I never went to an event like this before and the Parkway seemed to be transformed. I was lucky enough to go with my best friend who went multiple times before and took care of a newbie like me.




 Going through the main gate, there were many food trucks, as well as promotional tents. Many radio stations were down for the event having giveaways. If there is any way you can attract people toward you quickly, it’s when you’re giving away free stuff. Further down the parkway, there was a Vertigo ride that attendees could get on. Down at the baseball field, there was the Cause Village. At the Cause Village there were multiple tents hosted by different organizations that benefitted the community in one way or the other, such as the Hunger Coalition. There you can get information on what the organizations were all about, how you can help, and of course get some free stuff. In the center of that area was a board for attendees to write what causes did they support. Even though the event is mainly for the music, I thought it was a cute touch to have these resources that benefit us available.





While tour buses are no surprise, there was a gold bus parked on the streets. If you’re a fan of FOX’s hit show Empire, Made in America could have been your chance to join the cast. Empire was having auditions throughout the country and made a two-day stop in Philadelphia. If you were interested, you could have lined up outside the bus and crossed your fingers for luck. Bryshere Y. Gray or “Yazz the Greatest” who plays Hakeem Lyon is actually from Philly and has previously performed at Made in America.



 There were different stages stretched along the Parkway, with different acts on different times. The stages you could have to do were the Rocky Stage, Liberty Stage, Skate Stage, Tidal Stage, and Freedom Stage. The first act I went to see on the first day was Young Rising Sons on the Liberty Stage. I previously wrote about them last year during the American Youth Tour and immediately fell in love with this band. They mostly played the same songs as before, but they perform live and interact with the crowd so well. I felt like someone put me back into a time machine when I first saw them live. Their performance made me optimistic about the day because everyone else was in such a good mood and I feel like a person feeds off who they’re around. Luckily, Young Rising Sons are releasing new music soon, an ep called The Kids Will Be Fine as well as going on tour.


After their act finished, we walked closer towards Eakins Oval and waited for Earl Sweatshirt to come on while listening to The Struts. They weren’t bad, just not my cup of tea. I quickly realized that I made a dreaded mistake of wearing all black (even if the top and bottom were both short) and sitting on the dirt was in no way fun. Standing for Earl Sweatshirt didn’t last long. While I never listened to his music, his name was at least familiar to me. The bass from the speakers vibrated so hard I felt it in my throat and there were a few guys in the crowd who were rude. We eventually left that stage, not really feeling it, and went toward the EDM stage.




The EDM stage was torturous for me. I don’t mind the music, but I’m not much of a dancer, which is exactly what that music’s fit for. But that wasn’t the bad part. The terrible part was all the dirt. The stage was set up in a mostly grassy area, but with so much feet and equipment pummeling the ground, it was practically all dirt. With people dancing, they were pretty much kicking up the the dirt and there was practically a dirt cloud overtop that area. It was so hard to breathe and dirt even went into my nose. It’s been over a month and I’m pretty sure that experience added some damage into my lungs. If you can’t handle it, I’d suggest getting away from the dirt for your health.


Somehow after that, we managed to walk back to Eakins Oval towards the Rocky Stage for Vic Mensa. It was mostly name recognition, but I really liked his performance! I tried to Facetime my friend who couldn’t attend so they can enjoy a little of the experience, but connection was so poor. After Vic, I made it a priority to see Nick Jonas. I had been a Jonas Brothers fan for years and always will be. To see Nick perform live was such an amazing thought, considering that I was ten years old the last time I saw him. My dreams were quickly shattered. Because of poor scheduling, Nick was the only act on at that time so you had the people who wanted to see him to begin with as well as those who just wanted to see somebody. The crowd was practically a wall, with no one able to go in or out. I was with four other girls and we immediately decided we had to get out of there. The crowd was completely ridiculous. When we finally got out, I decided to go home despite only spending half the day. I wanted to stay and see Beyonce and Meek Mill (My dad predicted Nicki Minaj would perform and I’m mad he was right), but I was drained both physically and mentally. I vowed that I would come back the next day.


For day two, I knew what to expect. My best friend and I got there earlier because Halsey was the first act on at the Rocky Stage and we wanted to be my the barricade. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Halsey (who I also wrote about in my American Youth Tour article). She was the main reason I bought those tickets. Her debut album came out a week before her performance and I was excited to hear her new songs live. The walk from the Cathedral (from Logan Square the streets were already blocked off) all the way to the Art Museum somehow didn’t tire my feet anymore and I dressed more comfortably for the occasion. When we got there, there were already fans but we were in a pretty good spot. However, we still had a lot of time to kill. I had to sacrifice my flannel shirt to sit on because I forgot to bring a blanket and the ground was burning hot. While we waited, we did manage to talk with a few fans that made the experience better.





When Halsey finally came on, I went from 0 to 100. I had so much energy buzzing through me and I was so excited to see her again. Her album just came out and I was already singing along to the lyrics by heart. When she came on, she said “I’m from New Jersey so that’ll get either cheers or boos.” She performed “Gasoline”, “Castle”, “New Americana”, “Roman “Holiday”, “Hurricane”, and “Colors”. As she closed her portion of the show, she brought out both of her parents on stage which the fans thought was extremely sweet. I can only imagine how much pride her mother and father felt in that moment for her. Halsey yet again blew me away with her stage presence and if you haven’t listened to her album Badlands, I highly recommend that you do!




After Halsey, I caught a little bit of Marian Hill but stayed at that stage for Lolawolf. Lolawolf is a trio consisting of Zoë Kravitz, James Levy, and Jimmy Giannopoulos. Somehow, I managed to make my way to the front by the barricade. The crowd was anticipating their performance, but technical difficulties delayed their performance by a good amount of time, making people upset because they were making attendees late to see other acts. Being right by the speakers made me question whether my heart would stop at any moment but I enjoyed their performance a lot, making me glad I listened to some of their songs beforehand.


A lot of downtime was spent at the playground. It was important to have break time to regain all that energy.  Big Sean was the last act I saw live before I left because my friend wasn’t feeling well. While I was upset I didn’t stay the whole time for both days, I enjoyed the whole experience and was happy I broke out of my shell and made friends that weekend as well. It was a weekend that will probably be one of my favorite memories. Depending on the acts, I’d definitely like to go back next year.


If you’d like to go to one of these events, be very mindful. Check to see what you’re allowed to bring. For example, you’re not allowed to bring outside food or fancy recording equipment. If you know it’s going to be sunny and hot, please bring sunscreen! I forgot to put some on and my upper back and shoulders were burnt and peeling for days. If you know you’re gonna end up sitting on the ground for a while, bring a blanket, cloth, or relatively anything that you won’t mind getting dirty. Make sure your phone is all charged up and invest in portable chargers. MIA had free water stations scattered around to fill up reusable water bottles. But if you really want ice cold water, be prepared to crack down at least $3. Speaking of cash, make sure you have plenty on you to pay for things like food and if you’re with friends, consider pooling in money and sharing the food. Be wary of your surrounding because there are creeps but there are cops around you can report to. Keep in mind that this event is sponsored by Budweiser so of  course you’re going to run into people who may be drunk before it even hits 5 PM. The key is to really surround yourself with people you know, be aware of your surroundings, and know your limits. Being cautious, that doesn’t mean you have to throw away your fun. You can really have a good time at Made in America.



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John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School

311 N 19th St.

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(215) 563- 8930




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