by Lauren Rosier
The first Radio 104.5 Block Party of 2016 took place at Festival Pier on Sunday to a music-loving crowd that braved the rainy and chilly weather to see some of the best bands in alternative music today.
Philly’s own Modern Colour opened the show with an energized set that completely had the crowd going wild. The incredibly talented rock band played a 30-minute, six-song set full of electric, high energy rock songs.
The band opened with their latest single, “Try,” a heavy, guitar-driven track with solid vocals from lead vocalist Stephan Sirochman. “Try” is a blend of modern rock, blues, and southern rock, resulting in the Modern Colour sound.
The quartet kept the rock ‘n roll coming with another heavy, guitar-driven song, “Can’t Hide,” followed by solid modern rock jams, “Mercury,” “Ridge,” “Slippin’,” and “‘Till I Get My Way.”
At one point in the set, the crowd was begging Sirochman to take his shirt off. Once he did, he threw it into the crowd, then guitarist Nate Ridgeway took his off, and the crowd went nuts again! The guys threw out a few CDs to fans in the front of the crowd and they absolutely loved it.
One of the bands we recently featured is Run River North. They took the stage next, and delivered an incredible 30-minute set of indie pop songs featuring some highly skilled musicianship. This is a six-piece indie pop/rock band based out of Los Angeles comprised of Alex Hwang (lead vocals/acoustic guitar), Daniel Chae (Electric guitar/violin), Jennifer Rim (Violin), Joseph Chun (bass), John Chon (Drums), and Sally Kang (vocals/keys).
As I watched side stage left, at one point in their set, they just played, without any vocals, and the instrumentation was absolute perfection. When a band can evoke emotion simply with their instruments, it’s an incredible thing, and they did just that.
They played musical notes that painted a landscape of mountains and valleys of intense up and down emotion. The way they’re able to easily move from intense passion to the softened sound of light acoustic guitars, drums, and sweet vocals. When a band is able to do that, you know you’re involved in an experience, not just a fun concert.
One thing I need to point out is that in between sets, Radio 104.5 DJ Reed Streets, was spinning some of greatest alternative and indie pop/rock music in the industry today. He’s such a solid DJ and really kept the crowd energized in between the bands’ sets.
Icelandic indie pop / rock / folk band, Kaleo, took the stage around 4:00 PM and played a stellar 30-minute set. They’re definitely one band you need to keep your eyes and ears on. It seems like there’s so much good musical talent emerging from Iceland and Kaleo is no exception.
Their sound reminded me of a combination of alternative artist, Hozier, with the gritty vocals, Jökull Júliússon, paired with the indie pop/folk vibe of The Lumineers. Live performances are whole other ballgame, though, with the crowd’s energy and reception, and Kaleo didn’t disappoint.
Traveling all the way from Southend, Essex, England, was rock band, Nothing But Thieves, who performed a solid, intense 30-minute set of emotional, yet full-on rock songs. For me, these guys really stole the show. There were crowd surfers galore just bombarding the big, burly security staff with body after body.
Lead vocalist Conor Mason has a voice that transcends time and space, I swear. A blend of Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley, and another artist I just can’t put my finger on, Mason has a voice that’s perfect for a softer ballad, and raw and gritty enough for a harder rock song.
The British band comprised of Mason, Joe Langridge-Brown (guitars), Dominic Craik (guitars), James Price (drums), and Philip Blake (bass), delivered an intense, emotional show as their first in Philadelphia.
The guys complement each other well with the instrumentation of Brown, Craik, Price, and Blake combined with the vocals of Mason. As a band, they’re able to create a sound that reaches hard rock fans, as well as fans of melodic rock music similar to the likes of Radiohead, Muse, etc.
So I definitely recommend that go follow, like, Youtube, and purchase their music. They’re a band that I hadn’t heard of prior to this show and have suddenly turned into my new favorite band that’s destined to be huge.
Lastly, of course, but not least, was the X Ambassadors. The band that has erupted in the United States and has gone from playing Radio 104.5’s Birthday Show on their second stage to being a headliner at one of the station’s annual summer block parties at prominent Philly venue, Festival Pier.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t that familiar with them aside from the hugely popular “Renegades”; however, they did grow on me, and delivered an excellent show. They were scheduled to take the stage at 6:00 PM, but were delayed until 6:30 PM, and played to an excited, crowd-surfing crowd. Their set was full of songs like “Jungle,” “Unsteady” (in which the crowd sang loudly and sometimes out of key to), as well as ending their set with their hit, “Renegades.”
A crew member with X Ambassadors had instructed everyone to clear the area, so that the band could easily exit to their green room, following finishing the performance of “Renegades.” I cleared and stayed out of the band’s way, but as the audience cheered for an encore, the four-piece band headed back towards the stage. I gave out an energetic “woot!” and lead vocalist Sam Harris gave me a point of the finger! A seriously exciting ending to an incredible afternoon and evening of talented, solid musicians.