Words & Photos by Erin Mathis
Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party Series: Foxtrot and the Get Down, Big Data, Misterwives, New Politics, and A Silent Film
This past Sunday I headed west to the great city of Philadelphia for Radio 104.5’s legendary Summer Block Party Series. I was thrilled with the beautiful weather and even more excited about the line up. Five bands, free entry, and a view of the water? Doesn’t get much better than that. I had never been to the Festival Pier and was pretty impressed at the openness of it all. However, I was even more impressed with the security presence. They made it pretty clear, there would be no underage drinking. Still, some idiots thought they could get away with it. I witnessed a trio of beer-holding teens get escorted out, and was even in earshot of a kid trying to bribe a concession guy to “be cool, man.”
So let’s get into the music: first up was Foxtrot and the Get Down. I wasn’t familiar with their music, and it was obvious that the majority of the concertgoers weren’t either. Still, they managed to get the crowd grooving along to their bluesy sound, and even pulled out a rock and roll cover of Gorillaz’ “Sunshine in a Bag,” which I very much appreciated.
Big Data was up next. Once again, they were a band that I had not yet listened to, but the moment they rushed on stage with their killer outfits and big personalities, I knew I would enjoy their set. Vocalists Alan Wilkis and Lizy Ryan treated the stage like a dance floor, strutting their stuff around, and really working the crowd. They harmonies were magical, and when their last song ended all I wanted to do was go home so I could download their music.
But of course, I didn’t leave. I had to stick around for the two bands that I (and everyone else) was really there for: Misterwives and New Politics. Misterwives stormed the stage with a whole lot of pep, which they kept high throughout their set, performing synchronized dance moves here and there. They played energetic songs like “Best I Can Do”, and “Twisted Tongue”, and used their time on stage to spread their signature “stick it to the man” attitude. Lead vocalist Mandy Lee introduced “Not Your Way” as a song “for anybody who doesn’t give a flying fuck about what other people expect them to be.” This statement felt especially true coming from a petite girl in pigtails dropping f-bombs and hitting unreal Aretha-level notes. They then surprised the crowd with an extended cover of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”, and of course played the song that everyone was waiting to sing along to, “Reflections.”
After a short break, it was finally time for the Denmark natives New Politics. They had a fun mix, from uptempo songs like “Tonight You’re Perfect”, and “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens),” to the slowed down “Fall Into These Arms”, to even a shocking sampling of “Andaconda,” “Turn Down for What?” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” — a combination which both confused and excited the audience. They brought out their brand new single “West End Kids,” which the crowd couldn’t get enough of, and played their more popular hits like “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “Harlem.” I was lucky enough to be in the photo pit, and will say that New Politics, visually, was the most entertaining band of the day. Lead vocalist David Boyd whipped out his insane breakdancing skills, which had everyone in the crowd losing their minds.
As expected, once New Politics got off stage, most of the concertgoers headed for the parking lots. I felt a pang of sympathy for the last band, A Silent Film, who had to play to a significantly smaller audience. However, the majority of those that stuck around turned out to be true fans of the band, and were down to sing along and sway their arms back and forth in appreciation.
I left the show in a state of gratitude, toward Radio 104.5, for putting on such incredible shows time and time again, for the bands themselves, for all the work that they put in perfecting their talents, and just for music as a creative medium, and how sounds have the power to alter people in positive ways. The drive home was a peaceful one, and I listened to 104.5 until I drove out of range and my speakers filled up with static.