Made In America LA: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Is Budweiser’s Made In America festival a good fit for LA?  Here are some Confessions of a General Admission Ticketholder.

Los Angeles hosted the Budweiser Made in America music festival last weekend. Jay Z curates the festival, and America Eagle, Budweiser, Pepsi, and Spotify sponsor.  Philadelphia has hosted a Made in America festival at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway every year since 2012; Made and America debuted on the West Coast this year. Rumor has it LA Mayor Eric Garcetti strongarmed city officials into streamlining the festival’s approval in a two- year- old park space around City Hall.

The Made in America Festival represents somewhat of a milestone for Los Angeles. Most LA events take place at ready- made event spaces, like Staples Center, the LA Convention Center, or Exposition Park. This event closed down streets, diverted traffic, and tested the new Civic Center event space. Here’s an honest review from a grunt on the ground.

made in america LA Bud Ball

Parking: Not a problem. Plenty of lots within walking distance of the event. We paid $10 to park in a lot on Beaudry on Saturday and snagged free street parking on Sunday.

Traffic: Also not a problem. We traveled on the 110 and experienced minimal difficulties. We saw many packed Metro buses leaving the festival, indicating that many people bussed.

Alcohol: Outside alcohol prohibited. Sectioned- off “beer gardens” sold 16- oz cups of $9 Bud, $10 Fancy Bud and $14 Mango and Strawberitas. Steep prices, but beer provided about the only cold refreshment on site (ice coolers did a poor job chilling bottles of water, Pepsi, and Sparkling Ice). We went to one beer garden in a grassy area and one on a dirt lot filled with tents. The grassy one was much nicer. We had no problems getting our beer but talked to one gentleman who stood in line for 45 minutes. Demand greatly exceeded supply, even for overpriced beer.

Most people weren’t drunk. The crowd skewed slightly younger, as in the too- young- to- afford- multiple- rounds- of- $10- beer range. Scarce, expensive beer mitigated the number of hot messes but aggravated the number of people who could get enjoyably drunk.

made in america fans

Food: Disaster. LA is famous for food trucks. Logically, food trucks supplied the only food at the festival.

Food trucks sound like fast food on wheels. In reality, food trucks offer fancy gourmet food requiring at least 15 minutes of prep time per meal. You stand in line to order your food, order your food, and wait 15-20 minutes to actually receive your food. Food trucks are a poor solution for hunger. People got hungry. Usually, all the people got hungry at the same time. One food truck announced a 40 minute wait only once customers reached the front of the line. Some trucks ran out of food. People hunted for the trucks with the shortest lines but even short lines meant a hefty wait time for food. Event security acted like absolute Nazis towards people bringing outside snacks. Everyone with a stomach knows a hungry camper is not a happy camper. On Day 2, we dedicated our smuggling efforts to Pop Tarts and Luna bars. Crisis averted.

Solution: Faster food, like hot dogs or hamburgers, or more lenient guidelines on outside food. Why would I smuggle cocaine in on a packaged Pop Tart?

Water: Only slightly less disastrous than food. Water bottles banned. Luckily, Budweiser gave away cool refillable water bottles and tents sold bottled water for $3. The festival had a few water stations but not many and not where festival- goers needed them most. On Day 2, security started handing out water bottles in the crowd.

Solution: More water stations closer to stages, more water bottle distribution centers, outside water bottles.

Lineup: Here’s a breakdown of acts by genre:

Rap/ R&B/Hip Hop (17):

Jay Rock, Grits & Biscuits, Isaiah Rashad, Ab-Soul, DJ Mustard, Hit Boy, Schoolboy Q, YG, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, Cypress Hill, Rita Ora, Kanye West, Sublime with Rome, Chance the Rapper, 12th Planet, Nispey Hussle

Dance/ Electronica/ DJ (14):

A Tribe Called Red, Wax Motif, Will Sparks, DVBBS, Wolfgang Gartner, Gareth Emery, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, Borgere, R3hab, Yellow Claw, Classixx, Cut Snake, Grandtheft

Rock/ Alternative/ Singer/ Songwriter (13).

ZZ Ward, Dr. Dog, X Ambassadors, Capital Cities, Metric, Imagine Dragons, John Mayer, Weezer, Rise Against, Juanes, Mutemath, SZA, Terraplane Sun

Many artists praised the festival’s diverse lineup. The clash didn’t get ugly until John Mayer, who came right before headliner Kanye West. Mayer fans fought with Kanye die- hards for space in the front. Kanye fans booed John. Fans crushed each other to get a glimpse of Iggy Azalea’s legendary booty but thinned out before Imagine Dragons.

made in america iggy

Overall, I’d call it a rap festival. As a former sound engineer, I think live musicians playing instruments sound better in an outdoor park setting than artists using tracks and vocals. But, I also think America has plenty of large- scale festivals featuring rock/indie/alternative bands. A festival featuring hip- hop definitely fills a void, and LA loves hip- hop.

Kanye: My friend and I bought tickets to Made in America in Philly back in June because we wanted to see Kanye. A month ago, Kanye West and Iggy Azalea were added to the L.A. lineup. My friend and I tried and failed to get a refund, sold our tickets on StubHub for less than half of what we paid for them, bought tickets for LA, and thanked our lucky stars that Southwest Airlines has a no- penalty change policy.

The change pissed us off.

To make up for it, we parked ourselves in front of Kanye’s stage from 4:00 onward. The main stage had huge screens on either side so people way up the hill could see. The screens proved totally useless for Kanye’s set. His show set the live video feed on heat cam and you couldn’t see his actual face unless you were as close as we were.

kanye made in america

Even Kanye commented on the unbalanced sound. If you didn’t know what Kanye was rapping, you weren’t going to find out. Luckily, Kanye balanced hits with fan favorites and injected a healthy dose of preaching. The guy seems way more down- to- earth on stage than he does in the tabloids. Also, Kayne plays by the rules. He abbreviated many songs to fit within his time frame, which was cut short by an earlier act who played longer than allotted. He urged crowds to mosh. Moshing occurred. The moshing confused fans.

Overall, I’d call Made In America LA a success. It went well for a first- time event. City of Los Angeles, please host one next year.

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