Foreigners, talented vocalists with great hair, and gorgeous 80-degree weather could all be found at the 7th annual 104.5 Birthday Show at the Susquehanna Bank Center May 11. With the lineup featuring acts like St. Lucia, Kongos, Foals, Cage the Elephant, Third Eye Blind and headliners Bastille and Foster the People, it was clear that this lineup had concertgoers buzzing.
From high school kids attending their first all-day show to middle-aged women celebrating Mother’s Day, everyone in the crowd was enjoying the highly anticipated event.
New Jersey local band We Speak in Sounds opened the show by giving the crowd something fresh and new. The boys flashed their charming smiles, melting the hearts of their new young fans, and won over the crowd with soft acoustic melodies.
Next up was St. Lucia. Combining Afro-funk with overtones of new wave, lead singer Jean-Philip Grobler made sure the band displayed the fun they were having through their high energy levels on stage. With songs off their debut record “When the Night” like “Elevate” and “The Night Comes Again,” there wasn’t a disappointing moment in their entire set.
Foals kept the crowd going and proved that they are a band headed toward great things. Originally from Oxford, these English indie rockers have gone from forgettable punk to something worthy of recognition. Although they were new to a large part of the audience, singer-guitarist Yannis Philippakis led guitarist Jimmy Smith, drummer Jack Bevan, bassist Walter Gervers and keyboardist Edwin Congreave through a flawless performance. It was clear they knew their instruments well and left the crowd wanting more.
The band’s sound shares similarities with bands like The Cure and Coldplay, but still maintains its individuality through the incorporation of funkier sounds.
At this point, a party was forming out on the lawn. Seat holders started leaving their shaded seating to enjoy the festivities outside, and #teamlawn started appearing on the ticker above the stage more and more after 104.5 asked concert goers to tweet messages using the hashtag #1045bdayshow.
After a brief break, Kongos, an alternative rock band consisting of the four Kongos brothers, hit the stage with “Hey I Don’t Know.” The crowd went wild when drummer Jesse opened the song and Dylan introduced the bass line. The four brothers performed songs like “Sex on the Radio” and “I’m Only Joking,” and brought out their rapping friend, Moe’z Art, to help on a cover of “Come Together” by The Beatles. They closed the set with their hit single “Come With Me Now” — a gritty, bluesy, hard-rocking folk tune. Fans were clearly impressed by Daniel’s slide guitar and Johnny’s accordion.
Cage the Elephant’s performance followed, getting the crowd singing along enthusiastically to hits like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “Come a Little Closer.” Fans even seemed to recognize some lesser known songs such as “In One Ear,” “Shake Me Down” and “Cigarette Daydreams.” Leading the group was singer Matt Shultz, who bounced around like a child on six cups of coffee. Shultz reminds me of Mick Jagger in that he is not the strongest of vocalists but he makes up for it in expressing himself through obscure dances.
Ending on that energetic note, the crowd was electrified and anticipating the show that ‘90s rockers Third Eye Blind would put on. Unfortunately, it was very clear how much of an anachronism it was for the men to be there. Front man Stephan Jenkins announced to the audience the band was currently working on a new album in a desperate attempt to get a reaction. Too bad the band hasn’t had an album in five years and hasn’t had a Top 40 hit in almost 15. They performed a lifeless “Narcolepsy,” forgettable “Back to Zero” and a half-hearted “Semi-Charmed Life” before closing with their hit “Jumper.” The band seemed bored, and Jenkins failed at the cutesy, energetic front man act.
The night had taken a turn for the worse; Third Eye Blind bombed, and it was a complete buzzkill. It was up to the newbies in Bastille to bring the crowd back to life. This was the second Philadelphia-area show ever for Bastille, who previously performed in September at the 1,000-capacity Union Transfer. The UT was “just a little bit smaller than this,” singer Dan Smith stated, staring wide-eyed at the crowd after finishing their opening song, “Bad Blood,” a bass-heavy bit of upbeat pop perfection that got the crowd up from their 3EB slump.
Smith held the audience’s attention by staying in constant motion, energizing every song like “Laura Palmer,” “Things We Lost in the Fire,” the band’s amazing cover “Of The Night,” and of course their hit single “Pompeii” as he roamed, jumped and pounded on drums. During “Flaws,” Smith made his way through the crowd and joined #teamlawn. The best song though was clearly “Icarus,” a drum-heavy track that had the crowd in chaos.
In just 52 minutes, Smith and the rest of the band showed the immense talent they possessed. Headliner Foster the People had the impossible task of following Bastille. Yes, they were phenomenal, but Bastille had already stolen the show. In every song, front man Mark Foster would glide away from his piano and get lost in his lively and unique dancing routine. He seemed completely enraptured by his own music while performing “Miss You,” “Call It What You Want,” “Coming of Age,” “Houdini” and “Pumped Up Kicks.” Foster ended the night with “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls),” a clear demonstration of the outstanding vocal range, ability and talent he possesses.
All in all, 104.5 put on yet another fantastic birthday show. It was very clear that Bastille stole the show, while Third Eye Blind’s set was a perfect beer break.