The recently concluded music gala was a roaring success. Here are the highlights from all four stages at the Philadelphia edition
1. Liberty Stage
Tucked into the East side of the festival — near the famous Rodin Museum — was the massive Liberty Stage that hosted the likes of EDM juggernauts Tiesto and Steve Aoki that had fan followings too large to be accommodated at the Freedom Stage.
R&B superstar J. Cole, the blue-haired dream pop sensation Grimes, and mash up artiste Girl Talk, also played here. However, it was the self appointed ‘funk lordz’, Chromeo, who stole the show. And not because they used sexy-looking plastic female legs for keyboard stands but because their honest, refreshing sound is just amazing. The electro-funk duo was undoubtedly the funkiest act to grace MIA this year; the crowd seemed to love every moment of their interactive performance. With all the tension in the Middle East the world can definitely learn a thing or two from Chromeo who describe themselves as the most successful Arab/Jewish collaboration ever.
2. Rocky Stage
The gargantuan Rocky Stage looked like it could host at least 30,000 people. The stage featured stellar artistes like hip hop legend Big Daddy Kane, the man with the coolest hat and a whole lot of Grammys — Pharrell Williams, and the infamous Kanye West, who took the crowd on one hell of a journey.
Love him or hate him, it’s hard to ignore Kanye. The rapper, who wore a menacing mesh like face mask, shared a heartfelt rant with the crowd about how the media tries to portray him as self-obsessed individual as they take shots at his personal life. Kanye’s performance was undeniably on point; there were plenty of nostalgic moments when he performed tracks like ‘Jesus walks’ and ‘Stronger’ from his older albums. Rockers Kings Of Leon closed the festival at this stage.
3. Freedom Stage
This was an exclusive stage for electronic music at the festival, and not surprisingly, pulled in the younger crowd. It hosted crowd favourites Gareth Emery, Tommy Trash and R3hab as well as Melbourne bounce whiz kid Will Sparks and Baauer a.k.a. Mr. Harlem Shake.
It was hard to pick the best performance on this stage. So I’m going to call it a tie between Destructo and Gareth. The former got the party stared early in the day with his mean mix of straight up G- House. I wonder if there is anything that this man can’t do. After a massive thunderstorm brought the festival to a halt, spirits were definitely dampened. However, when the gates reopened, Gareth was armed and ready to avenge time that had been lost. It was all ‘lights and thunder’ when he played his set (pun intended). The energy level during his melodic and electrifying set was unparalleled by any other performer during the festival. There was an elaborate, unforgettable moment of bliss in the air when he played his collaboration with Bo Bruce, ‘U’.
4. Skate Park Stage
This was the first stage you saw when you entered the festival. It was one of the most unique spaces I’ve come across yet; it had an actual skate park set up to its side where you could find some of Philadelphia’s finest skaters doing ollies, kickflips, grinds and other neat skateboard tricks. This stage showcased up-and-coming punk, hardcore, shoegaze and hard rock bands in the USA. The area was a perfect stage to headbang and go absolutely nuts. Moshpits and walls of death were common sights here.
The one act on this stage that really blew me away was a Philadelphia-based shoegaze band called Nothing. Their sound reminded me a lot of the Deftones’ side project, Team Sleep, but there was still something very unique and mesmerising about their sounds. It’s not easy to describe their sonic identity because it’s noisy, distorted and yet calming. The band is currently signed to Relapse Records and their most recent album, Guilty of Everything, is available on their Band Camp page.
(Cover Image Courtesy: Gregory Bowser)
(Other images courtesy: Made In America Facebook)