Bud­weiser mu­sic fes­ti­val won’t re­turn

Last year’s de­but Grand Park event faced var­i­ous is­sues such as res­i­dents’ ire.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Ger­rick Kennedy ger­rick.kennedy@la­times.com

In April 2014, Jay Z stood on the steps of City Hall — flanked by Mayor Eric Garcetti and other of­fi­cials — and an­nounced he would bring the Bud­weiser Made in Amer­ica to Los An­ge­les.

But de­spite a bill that in­cluded Kanye West, Imag­ine Dragons, Steve Aoki and John Mayer, the La­bor Day Week­end event’s in­au­gu­ral year didn’t go over smoothly. And it won’t be back this year.

The fes­ti­val, now in its fourth year, will again re­turn to its birth­place of Philadel­phia (Jay Z’s f ledgling stream­ing ser­vice Ti­dal has been of­fer­ing all kinds of ticket spe­cials). But in­stead of stag­ing a si­mul­ta­ne­ous L.A. edi­tion, Made in Amer­ica will host a free con­cert on New York’s Lib­erty Is­land, Bill­board re­ported Thurs­day morn­ing. (Bill­board has since taken the story down from its web­site. The Times con­firmed with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Live Na­tion that the fes­ti­val is not re­turn­ing to Los An­ge­les.)

Made In Amer­ica’s in­au­gu­ral L.A. event had to over­come a num­ber of hur­dles be­fore gates even opened to 71,000 fans over two days.

First, there was the lo­ca­tion. Book­ended by the Los An­ge­les Mu­sic Cen­ter and City Hall, Grand Park — with its lush grounds, in­ter­ac­tive foun­tain plaza and eye-pop­ping, bright pink seat­ing — had yet to wel­come an event of this size. And with just a dozen acres, it wasn’t even half the size of the Los An­ge­les State His­toric Park, where ma­jor draws like the Hard fes­ti­vals, FYF Fest and H20 Fest have set up.

Garcetti also faced strong crit­i­cism from both City Coun­cil of­fi­cials and area res­i­dents for get­ting the fes­ti­val ap­proved so quickly with­out much public de­bate.

Res­i­dents griped, loudly, about se­cu­rity in and around their apart­ment build­ings and how the many street clo­sures would im­pact roads al­ready over­bur­dened by traf­fic and a con­struc­tion boom.

The eco­nomic im­pact of the event was also a point of con­tention. It net­ted an es­ti­mated $31,000 for city cof­fers, ac­cord­ing to an eco­nomic anal­y­sis of the event re­leased in Jan­uary, and was es­ti­mated to have gen­er­ated nearly $15 mil­lion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the city.

Made in Amer­ica didn’t fare much bet­ter from a fan ex­pe­ri­ence ei­ther.

The lineup, though di­verse, didn’t quite feel cu­rated or that it car­ried a nar­ra­tive. L.A. alt-rock­ers Weezer, Latin mu­sic su­per­star Juanes, South L.A. rap­per Ken­drick La­mar and ofthe-mo­ment pop-rap­per Iggy Aza­lea played along­side Sub­lime with Rome, Rita Ora, YG, Cap­i­tal Cities and Cy­press Hill.

Wrote Times pop mu­sic critic Randall Roberts: “Just as the Bel­gian-owned An­heuser-Busch InBev ‘king of beers’ is com­bat­ing an in­sur­gent craft brew­ing move­ment gulp­ing mar­ket share, Made in Amer­ica is com­pet­ing with other fes­ti­vals born much more or­gan­i­cally. Through per­se­ver­ance, trial and er­ror and a fo­cused mu­si­cal mission, th­ese other events have be­come des­ti­na­tion fes­ti­vals. In com­par­i­son, Made in Amer­ica felt like a brand­ing op­por­tu­nity — that also hap­pened to fea­ture some of to­day’s big­gest bands.”

Re­quests for com­ment from the mayor’s of­fice or Jay Z were not re­turned.

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