But some of Public Enemy’s message was delivered to deaf ears as a swarm of the crowd rushed to the secondary stage for the bass-heavy, strip-club-ready stomp of 2 Chainz’s booming, hits-filled set.
Saturday also belonged to the thrilling grooves spun by French pop-rockers Phoenix on the mainstage ahead of Beyoncé’s closing set. And judging by the sea of bodies that spilled in every direction of the stage, no one who had a ticket missed the pop queen.
During a 90-minute set, Beyoncé shimmied through a truncated version of her current sold-out Mrs. Carter World Tour, complete with dazzling costume changes, big arena flair and fiery anthems, but still minus any new material -- or even an appearance from Mr. Carter, who was spotted taking in her set from the VIP area. Still, she dialed up enough sass and fierce footwork to move the tens of thousands of sweaty bodies who danced and sang along.
The groove stretched much deeper on Sunday, however, as crowds turned up early to pack Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Fitz & the Tantrums, Gaslight Anthem, Robert Delong and a surprise set from Waaves were among the afternoon offerings.
But the festival really heated up for the heady mix of genre-blurring soul from Solange and Miguel, a slew of hip-hop wordsmiths that stretched from stoner chill (Wiz Khalifa), indie outlier (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) and West Coast revivalist (Kendrick Lamar) along with EDM king Calvin Harris. Both Harris and Lamar, who brought his Black Hippy brethren, attracted the day’s largest crowds.
Industrial rock veterans Nine Inch Nails anchored the final night and delivered the festival’s most mesmerizing and intense set -- despite attracting only a fraction of the crowd drawn by Beyoncé the night before (blame the effects of two full days of heat and tightly scheduled music).
The thinned-out crowd made getting a plum view of Trent Reznor and Co. remarkably easy -– a good thing considering NIN’s set was best enjoyed in the thick of its stomping, shout-along mosh of dedicated fans.
For 90 minutes, the black-clad Reznor ripped through a crushing, tightly packed set that previewed the band’s comeback disc, "Hesitation Marks.”
The frontman rarely came up for air as he dived between a drum machine and his microphone (guitars came later), his shadow bouncing on the walls of towering white panels behind him that shifted through the set to reveal throbbing graphics and bright lights as the songs grew angrier and more angst-ridden.
As a sweat-soaked Reznor led his band through the hit “Closer,” rumors flooded Twitter that Jay Z would make an appearance for a small set.
It didn’t happen. Jay was probably off somewhere dreaming up his next conquest.