On the second and final day of Jay-Z's Budweiser Made in America Festival in Philadelphia, conversation remained centered on its host. After bringing out Kanye West and most of his G.O.O.D. Music crew on the first night during his headlining set, the Brooklyn emcee returned on Sunday, joining Pearl Jam for an airtight, riffing take on his "Black Album" cut "99 Problems," a version of the song only comparable to a 2004 collaboration with Phish.
Jay's surprise appearance highlighted what was a momentous set by Eddie Vedder's crew. Over two hours, the rock vets satiated all levels of fans, mixing set staples ("Better Man," "Alive," "Even Flow") with unexpected gifts, including a full ride through the "Vs." cut "WMA" and a brief interlude into the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" during the outro of "Daughter."
A day earlier, Jay-Z screened a PSA from President Barack Obama for audience members, urging them to vote in the upcoming election. Almost exactly 24 hours later Vedder also dabbled in political gesture: "I want to talk about one of the political parties," he told the crowd before charging through the Clash's protest anthem "Know Your Rights." "I won't mention any names, but one of the parties wants to make it harder for you to vote. " This sermon followed a Vedder discourse on the dwindling job market before the appropriately titled "Unemployable."
Drake, wearing a white-on-white jean-and-tank combo, delivered on the unenviable task of warming up the stage for Pearl Jam. The Young Money rapper, who revealed he's "working on a new one right now," linked up with G.O.O.D Music's 2 Chainz for a fierce take on the Atlanta rhyme-slinger's "No Lie" and MMG's day-one absentee French Montana for "Pop That." The rapper, who got somber during the singsong plea of "Marvin's Room," balanced it out with humor ("You got a tank top on and your nipples are out," he told an audience member).
Performing for the first time since the 2002 murder of co-founder Jam Master Jay, seminal hip-hop crew Run-D.M.C. reunited for a triumphant Sunday afternoon set. Surviving members Joseph "Run" Simmons and Daryl "D.M.C." McDaniels paid tribute early and often to their late partner ("Jam Master Jay was everything to us, so we put a silence on the group," Run explained of the group's decade-long hiatus), even having the late DJ's two sons, Jason "Jam Master J'Son" Mizell Jr. and TJ "Dasmatic" Mizell, behind the decks. Run, decked out in full Adidas regalia, made no secret of his elation over returning to the stage: "Damn, this feels good," he said at the start of a 40-minute set that peaked with "It's Tricky" and "Mary, Mary."
Immediately after Run-D.M.C. left the stage, rap's newest generation of talent was put on display with a set from Odd Future, which featured an abundance of "Wolf Gang" chants and six of the collective's rappers, including Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Hodgy Beats. Late in the set, Tyler debuted a blistering, as-yet-unfinished song, sarcastically prefacing it with a false disclaimer: "It's really calm," he said. It wasn't, and Odd Future catalyzed the formation of the only mosh pit Rolling Stone saw all weekend.
Punk rockers X attracted a thin crowd late Sunday night at the Liberty side stage; today's punks were nowhere to be found, as the band brought in a markedly older demographic. The foursome appeared a little stiff onstage, but aurally speaking, any Eighties cobwebs were thoroughly dusted off as the band nailed classics like "Los Angeles" and "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene."
Earlier in the day, with rain falling intermittently on the crowd, Rita Ora – Roc Nation's up-and-coming artist (and a finalist for Rolling Stone's Women Who Rock contest) -- looked like a street Beyoncé (think beanie and bangs) as she wilded out to her forthcoming debut's Biggie-inspired, reggae-tinged single "How We Do (Party)" and "Hot Right Now."
The Hives, wearing their usual top hats and tuxedos, followed Ora's performance with an occasionally comical but always full-throttle showing. "You got hands, clap them. You got asses, shake them," frontman Pelle Almqvist instructed the crowd before launching into their new cut "Take Back the Toys."
One of Sunday's biggest draws was Afrojack, whose set spawned a veritable diaspora toward the Freedom Tent after Drake's main stage performance, siphoning off a considerable number of festivalgoers from X's set on the nearby Liberty Stage. The DJ and producer spun crowd-pleasers like his remix of Martin Solveig's "Hello" as his smoke machines were on in full force.
"We're going to make it feel like sunshine," Philly native Santigold promised after inviting a handful of eager fans onstage for "Creator." Fellow Philly singer Jill Scott did her part to keep the mood lively, calling on the city's own Eve for a surprise performance of "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," a song which had the hometown crowd singing along with every word.
More music news: