Coachella. Glastonbury. Bonnaroo. Made in America.


Festival season is truly unlike any other.


After years of watching from afar on YouTube or even in recent years, through livestream, I was finally able to attend my first music festival, Made in America.


Now, there was a method to my madness. I was really solely there to see JAY-Z headline the last day of the festival. However, what I experienced was much more leading up to the headlining set.


I was fortunate enough to win two free tickets to both days of the event through a promotion Rocnation was running through one of their artists, Karen Rodriguez.


After skipping the first day, which was headlined by J Cole, my fiends and I showed up to the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia around 4:00 in order to make our way to premium viewing spots to see Jay.


While making our trek to the main “Rocky Stage”, we passed and rub shoulders with people from all different races and all different walks of life. It was truly a beautiful sight to see. These are people some of whom you may know, most of whom you probably don’t who were all brought together by one thing: music.


I knew music was powerful, influential and impactful, but to witness a festival first hand, I truly gained an appreciation for how global it was in addition to the three adjectives I mentioned aforementioned.


When at a festival and trying to vie for a spot closest to the stage, you naturally create conversations with random people who are trying to do the same. These conversations usually begin by “what’s your name”, “where are you from” and usually is prolonged by “alright, let’s try to move closer to the stage together”.


In essence, for about 4-5 hours, you create somewhat of a bond with these people that you probably would have never met otherwise. All of this just to see someone perform a collection of songs that you have already heard.


(Brandon Cornelius/MUI Daily News)

It’s truly an eclectic experience to be able to meet and interact with people through this medium and as the time passed, and one act came and went, the time was approaching to see Jay perform which is really what everyone had been waiting for. In the meantime, as we continued to push towards the front, and were really close, we were thoroughly entertained by the Chainsmokers whose part artist part DJ set was something I hadn’t experienced before. Fire coming out from the stage, strobe lights protruding from above, massive speakers everywhere, piercing the limits of what your ear can hold and just an all time great vibe that can only be experienced within the parameters of this specific environment.


As that act ended, it was finally the time we had been waiting for. As very few people filed out and more people began to make their way to the main stage, our steps began to inch closer and closer to our final destination which would end up being about three rows of people to the stage.


Safe to say, we had a very dope view.


So after about 45 minutes of set up, the curtain dropped and amidst the darkness of the stage, a huge, 40 foot Jeff Koons Balloon Dog was extremely visible with turntables, a drum set and keyboard set to its left side.


As anticipation continued to build, an instrumental of the Kanye West song “Mercy” began to play to the roar of the crowd. After, a medley of instrumentals and reggae snippets began to play until it finally happened.


As the sample of the song “Bam” began to play, out walked the man himself. In an uncommon practice, instead of coming out and performing a song right away, Jay decided to enjoy the music along with us as he simply walked out with a mic in one hand and the other in his pocket, bobbing his head to the song and taking it all in while the crowd went crazy just at his presence.


This would be the spark that ignited two and a half hours of career-defining songs (that I knew all the words to) that had the crowd completely mesmerized and on another planet.


I mean, that’s what festivals do, right? They take you on this otherworldly journey through the landscape of music and really puts you into a different life zone.


When you’re at a festival, you forget about all that’s around you and your main focus is on the music and how the music leads you. Whether you’re just bobbing your head, jumping up and down, or testing the limits of your vocal peak, the experience of a festival is again unlike any other.


To see Jay perform, to meet all the people we met and to just attend the Made in America Festival as a whole was an experience that will live on in my mind forever.


Are you a fan of attending music festivals? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.