It was “Lucky Number 7” for the Radio 104.5 Birthday show this year, being held at the Susquehanna Bank Center, on Sunday, May 11th . Philadelphian’s might have felt like their luck ran out if you were one of the unlucky that had to shell out twenty five dollars for parking, five dollars for a pretzel and another three just for the cheese to dip it in. However, good fortune favors the bold and for the fortunate ticket holders this year, the line up and performances did not let anyone down, except for maybe the young child that dropped that $8 pretzel on the ground.
As the warm weather took hold of the amphitheater that day, British rock band, Foals took the stage and launched into a guitar heavy set that gradually picked the lawn crowd up off their picnic blankets. Although their set was rather short, Foals powered through their hits, “My Number” and “Inhaler” first, ensuring that the aforementioned picnic blankets garnered plenty of dirty footprints. Foals’ guitarists, Yannis Philippakis and Jimmy Smith were the highlights of the set, shredding their guitars throughout and showing everyone why they were called in from Oxford to play the show in Camden. Their guitar solos lit up the bridges of each and every song they played. Likewise, it seemed as if their hot riffs were calling out to the hot sun that afternoon and inviting it out for a play date. As the temperature rose, so did the intensity of the their set and we’ll certainly be hearing more of them on the Radio104.5 airwaves this summer.
Another warm discovery was the South African band, Kongos, making their first appearance in the area and showing why they’ll be playing the Summer Block Party on June 7th at Festival Pier. Kongos consists of four brothers: Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Daniel Kongos. The band switches off vocal duties often with the entire band occasionally chiming in to sing the choruses, which invited a lot of sing alongs, which is perfect for a birthday party of this caliber. They opened with their hit “I’m Only Joking” and immediately got the crowd involved. As the set winded down and they blasted into their big hit, “Come with Me Now”, the amphitheater shook with excitement and officially reached party-status.
The energy and the heat that day reached it’s pinnacle when Cage The Elephant performed. Matt Shultz must have been channeling Jim Morrison or Iggy Pop that afternoon, because he didn’t stop moving until the set was over. The raw style of the band seemed very polished that day and their performance proved why they get so much love on Radio 104.5. They powered through their hits, including “Come a Little Closer” and “Ain’t No Rest for The Wicked”. Nick Bockrath, the bands new guitarist and a Philadelphia native, took the opportunity during a few songs to get acquainted with the locals by jumping into the crowd on several instances. Matt Shultz followed his lead by attempting to perform while fans perched him above their heads. The band ended with “Shake Me Down” and the fans at the Susquehanna Center sang along, pumping their arms into the air as Matt Shultz yelled, “I keep my eyes fixed on the sun!”
Third Eye Blind and their frontman, Stephen Jenkins had a difficult task ahead of them as they followed up Shultz and company. It has to be a bit hard to match the vigor of a band like Cage the Elephant, but Third Eye Blind gave the fans every hit they wanted to hear with an equal amount of showmanship. Stephen Jenkins mentioned they had no setlist and proceeded to ask their fans to call out the songs they wanted to hear, which was a nice twist to their performance and also served as a nice breather for the day. Bathed in the glow of the enormous white lights behind them, Third Eye Blind truly epitomized the rock band image complete with black leather pants. Somehow guitarist Kevin Cadogan managed a split in those pants during one of his guitar solos and that’s simply something that you can only do once you’re a seasoned rock band such as Third Eye Blind. Closing their performance with songs like “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper” they reminded us all how they became so popular in the first place.
The giant lights were rolled off stage to make room for London pop-rock band Bastille who did not disappoint the thousands of fans waiting for them. The four-piece band gave an enthusiastic and on-point performance. While lead singer Dan Smith was obviously singing with a backing track, the sound was crisp, clear and well performed. Opening with “Bad Blood”, Dan surely had the young ladies in the audience screaming as he leaned into the crowd and stood on speakers throughout the song and set. Taking a cue from Imagine Dragons, the lead singer often struck a floor tom or cymbal for a little extra emphasis on the beat. Before closing out their performance, they launched into a mash-up cover called, “Rhythm of the Night” which blends Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night” with the Snap! song, “Rhythm is a Dancer”. Following their cover, they exploded into their massive hit “Pompeii” which sounded epic on all accounts and left everyone in the crowd pumped for the headliner.
As if that wasn’t enough, this years headlining duties belonged to Foster the People, with front man Mark Foster giving an enthusiastic and charismatic performance underneath his suit jacket. Touring in support of their latest album, Supermodel, they were out to prove that “Pumped Up Kicks” was no fluke. Mark Foster jammed out on piano for the first song, “Miss You” as the rest of the band danced around the glowing ice-bergs that have become a part of Foster the People’s stage design. The band really connected with their songs, as well and gave emotionally charged performances throughout their headlining set. Moving into the newer material like, “Are You What You Want To Be?” the band cemented position as one of the best of the day, before closing out with “Pumped Up Kicks”, their mega-hit from two summers ago.
The 7th Annual Radio 104.5 Birthday proved that the radio station, while still in it’s infancy, really knows how to throw a party. The line-up was full of radio hits and solid performances and proved to be a good show no matter where you were located at the Susquehanna Bank Center. The fans in the pit got plenty of photography opportunities while holding crowd-surfing band members above their heads. Fans on the lawn were able to hear an amazing line-up while soaking up the gorgeous day in Camden. Some of us were so excited by the performances, we even treated ourselves to that extra three dollar cup of cheese for our five dollar pretzel.
Photos by Andrew Wick