PHILADELPHIA – Now that the city has cleaned up from its massive July 4th concert, officials are turning their attention to the next big outdoor show: Jay-Z’s “Made In America” festival over Labor Day weekend.
Logistical details â€” and the full lineup of performers â€” have been hard to come by since the two-day music extravaganza was announced in May. And now, Philadelphia is working to downplay safety concerns following a triple shooting near the Independence Day celebration.
“Made In America” will occupy much of the same real estate as Wednesday’s event, which attracted an estimated 500,000 people to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for fireworks and performances by The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah and others.
Mayor Michael Nutter suggested concertgoers were unaware of the violence erupting just blocks from the stage, and he described the festivities overall as a huge success.
“I’m not going to let some little (expletive) 16-year-old who’s got a beef with somebody … negatively impact the image of the city,” Nutter said.
Police say a 16-year-old carried a gun and a grudge from an outlying neighbourhood into downtown and shot two people with whom he had been feuding. The suspect was then shot by police; all three are expected to recover.
On Thursday, police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said he hasn’t begun planning for “Made In America,” which will have a combination of private and public security. But the city has hosted large-scale events on the parkway for years, including 2005’s Live 8 concert for African poverty relief.
The 12-hour megashow also drew hundreds of thousands of people for a lineup that included Jay-Z, Dave Matthews Band and The Black Eyed Peas.
That event â€” and the annual July 4th show â€” cost nothing to attend, however. Each also featured a single stage, with speakers and screens placed at intervals down the wide, tree-lined boulevard to amplify sound and project visuals.
“Made In America” is definitely not free. Early-bird $99 tickets have sold out, according to the event website, leaving the cheapest two-day pass at $135. Concert packages that include hotel accommodations range from about $700 to nearly $2,200.
Longtime Philadelphia pop culture and music journalist A.D. Amorosi said he’s curious to see how organizers regulate admission along a major city street, as well as entice fans to pay for music that might be easily heard from outside the paid area.
“It’s probably keeping somebody up at night,” Amorosi said of the planning efforts. But, he added, “these are all really smart people and ultimately if there is a way to ensure that money will be made off of this, I guarantee you they will find a way.”
A spokesman for promoter Live Nation did not respond to requests for comment this week. The company sent a statement to The Associated Press on June 25 saying the second round of confirmed artists, along with other festival details, will be released soon.
So far, only 18 of the expected 28 bands have been announced for the performances on Sept. 1 and 2. Headliners include Pearl Jam, Jay-Z, Skrillex and Afrojack. Three stages are planned, which could provide another challenge if sound bleeds from one performance into another, Amorosi said.
Promised amenities include cellphone charging stations, “platinum VIP cabanas,” ATMs, a medical tent and free filtered water service on site, according to the event website. Ticketholders can bring blankets and towels, but chairs and coolers are not allowed.
Local tourism officials are excited for the extravaganza. It’s “a destination-defining event” for the city in the same way that Live 8 was, said Patricia Washington, vice-president of cultural tourism for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corp.
“This is going to bring tremendous attention to Philadelphia as a music city,” Robinson said.
City Representative Melanie Johnson said in an email Thursday that local officials have met a few times about the concert and plan to form an operations team in the next few weeks.
The concert is sponsored by Budweiser.
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