See, I do get out sometimes and have a slightly cool hipster side- though it is tainted by unstoppable geekery. Last night I traveled to Philadelphia for the Radio 104.5 summer show. The headliner was Silversun Pickups but Metric and Against Me also played earlier in the evening and the whole event was opened by a group called The Henry Clay People.
This year the event was held at the River Stage on Penn’s landing instead of Festival Pier. It was a wise move, River Stage has a stadium feel to it with room for sitting and standing on the stairs that fill the space. Behind the stage, the river created an attractive backdrop and occasionally boats would pass by. According to one of the women that works at the radio station, the levels make people feel less like they need to crowd the front of the stage to see anything and lessens the size of the mosh pit. Yes, overall it was fairly tame crowd with very illegal activities even by the end of the night when the Miller Light girls (like tattoo clad modern cigarette girls) had been by. A crowd highlight was a drunk shirtless guy complaining about a shirtless drunk guy.
The Henry Clay People were the opener, an enthusiastic if somewhat unpolished group. Metric followed. They started with some of their better known radio played songs like “Gold Guns Girls,” but they were having audio problems. A sound tech remarked that something was wrong with their mixer. It made the music sound unbalanced and tinny and painfully unenjoyable at places.
Against Me followed with less sound problems and truly rocked out in punk fashion playing songs such as “Don’t Lose Touch,” their well-known single “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” from their new album. Though some of their songs have clear political slants, everyone could enjoy the strength of their sound. Their speakers were covered with sayings such as “Into the Jungle the Noble Savages Run,” and their keyboardist was very entertaining, he swigged from a wine bottle and for one song played the accordion, proving that they are in fact cool. No one could tell they had a substitute bassist playing with them until it was mentioned, their regular bassist having left the tour the day before to go home for the birth of his child. Lead singer Tom Gabel called a friend who seamlessly joined them for this show and will continue with them for the rest of the tour. They are a group that will likely be invited back and eagerly anticipated.
Finally, after a delay to fix some things in the sound booth, the headlining act, Silversun Pickups started. Though they have a glossiness to their recorded tracks, they in no way fell flat live. Every member of the band played with energy and feeling, especially the drummer, Christopher Guanlao, who Jim Henson fans will perhaps equate to the muppet Animal. Their bassist, Nikki Monninger was one of the only females onstage that night and she kept up with the boys. After being begged for an encore, they returned to the stage a full five minutes after finishing to play a few more songs including “Part of Me.”
It was a great show and I would love to see some of the bands live again. Alternative Rock fans that will be in Philadelphia this weekend should know that Matt and Kim are having a free show on Saturday. I don’t know all the details but you can check out Radio 104.5’s website for info.