10 Acts We’re Excited To See At Budweiser Made In America Festival 2015

Carl Williott | September 3, 2015 6:00 am

Brands sponsoring music seems to be one of the most promising sources of revenue for artists. Some music purists — from writers to artists like Kanye West — are proudly anti-brand and bristle at the conspicuous sponsorship driving festival culture. But pop music has always been a commodity, whether it was the Tin Pan Alley salesmen-turned-publishers churning out songs, the major labels running payola deals with radio or MTV at one time dictating the mainstream’s music options (when not in a commercial break). The difference now is there’s less of a middleman and less shame about the bands wanting a stake in such a system.

For whatever reason, drink brands are leading the way in this frontier: Red Bull has cultivated actual cultural currency and “authenticity” with its RBMA, Sprite landed Drake and Nas to beef up its hip-hop bona fides. And Budweiser has made a power play to enter that discussion, which was inevitable once the beer company hooked up with Jay Z and Roc Nation for Made In America Festival. Leading up to this year’s iteration, they kicked off the Monument Series, which included a Mary J. Blige show next to the Statue of Liberty. This weekend, the Philadelphia extravaganza is headlined by Beyoncé and The Weeknd, easily bringing it to the top tier of East Coast festivals in just its fourth year. I am pointing this out because, yes, Budweiser is hosting me to go bask in the light of Queen Bey and the darkness of The Weeknd on September 5-6, so it would be rude not to mention my hosts, but also because I think the brand-music interplay is a legitimately interesting aspect of today’s pop cultural landscape. I mean, SOPHIE soundtracked a McDonald’s campaign! That can make you feel all different types of ways at the same time, and any topic that can produce cognitive dissonance of that intensity is worth analyzing.

But enough about this flailing industry. Let’s preview the goods at this weekend’s Budweiser Made In America fest. There’s lots of ’em, but above we’ve listed the 10 acts you can’t miss.