The Radio 104.5 Birthday shows are always one of the highlights of Summer for alternative music fans in the Philly area and the 12th Birthday show on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019, at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ was no exception. While there were several amazing acts performing on both the Main stage and the Mall Chevrolet New Music Discovery stage, we stuck mostly to the Main stage on Sunday. The Main stage kicked off at 2:55 PM with a 30 minute set from Moonroof, the winner a Radio 104.5 contest to open the stage. Unlike last year’s Main stage opener, The Great Enough, who really rose to the occasion, Moonroof seemed a little nervous and/or out of their league. They played at a very (too) fast tempo and their lead singer seemed constantly out of breath. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by the moment but there definitely seemed to be a deer-in-the-headlights look to him as he performed and addressed the crowd.
The Interrupters hit the Main stage next, right before 4 PM with a unique punk/ska, high energy sound. Lead singer, Aimee Allen, was very energetic and got down to be close to the crowd. The Interrupters drummer and bass player are twins, and the guitar player is their older brother. Allen is the only member of the group who isn’t in the Bivona family. Both the string playing Bivona brothers were jumping all over, rocking bright red socks, climbing on the monitors at the front of the stage, and doing jumps. Their sound was great, especially on crowd favorites like ‘She’s Kerosene’ and ‘Gave You Everything’.
5:00 PM brought The Revivalists to the Main stage. We really enjoy this larger (eight-piece) band, with a bit of a brass section (sax and trumpet) and two drummers. Frontman David Shaw, who has a bit of a Matthew McConnaghy feel about him, commanded the stage with ease, interacting with the audience who seemed transfixed on his every word. The New Orleans outfit has developed a strong following and that was evident as fans sang along to hits like ‘Wish I Knew You’ and ‘All My Friends’.
At this point, we ventured over to the second stage to check out Lewis Capaldi, who drew a huge crowd for the side stage, packing the space in front of the stage and the hillside behind that. Capaldi was really good, both as a performer and in his interactions with the crowd. He joked with fans that, “If you want to see rock and roll this isn’t the spot. If you want to see a fat, Scottish man singing about his feelings, then you’re in the right place”. He was very humble, cursed a lot, apologized for it, then followed it all up with a big sheepish grin. He was very popular, especially with the younger folks in the crowd that seemed to know every single lyric to his songs.
Phantogram was up next on the Main stage, just prior to 6:30 PM. We have seen Phantogram as a staple of past Radio 104.5 shows, and usually, really enjoy their performance, but we found it a little hard to make out Sarah Barthel’s lyrics on Sunday (especially if you didn’t already know the words). Barthel hit the stage with platinum white hair, a tight black top with shiny pants, and huge white heels. Josh Carter was more dressed down in a black baseball hat. Barthel was in a constant state of motion, nonstop squatting and grabbing her crotch while she sang. Phantogram has a markedly more electronic sound than the other acts that performed on Sunday which made them stand out. We still enjoy Phantogram, maybe they just don’t get us high anymore.
After about an hour delay for strong thunderstorms that moved through the area, Grouplove hit the stage around 8:30 PM. When they finally began their set, it was all energy, as is typical of a Grouplove performance. Not surprisingly, Grouplove was really popular with the crowd. Their performance was spot on, as they have mastered their craft. Their show was quick paced and they got a lot of songs in. The crowd was singing along with almost everything they played. Co-fronted by Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi, their melodies were crisp as they belted out the words to fan favorites like ‘Tongue Tied’ and ‘Ways To Go’.
Death Cab for Cutie was up next and Ben Gibbard and company got a huge ovation from the crowd when they took the stage, opening with a full version of ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’. The music though was spot on, as Death Cab is loaded with excellent musicians, front to back, and it shows. As the set went on though, the overall energy really dropped in the crowd, as tons of people sat down and were just chilling, which was in stark contrast to the acts that played directly before them. Overall their set was beautiful and had a lot of popular songs, but not all. We would have loved to hear ‘Grapevine Fires’, but we’re happy to save that for the next time we see them.
Finally, after a long day of stellar bands, it was time for the headlining set of the night by The Lumineers! the place was still packed, very clearly people wanted to be here for these guys. The music was absolutely fabulous, the vocals were perfect, and everything sounded great. Their setlist was compiled of hit after hit. On a few songs, drummer Jeremiah Fraites came out and played the drum and tambourine at stage front next to frontman Wesley Schultz. The Lumineers were very appreciative of the crowd and talked about that often. They were very humble about being this popular but they certainly enjoyed playing to the big crowd. Their stage presence was great, and the setlist flowed really well, and the energy stayed high throughout. We especially loved well-known tunes like ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Ho Hey’, and the Lumineers were the perfect band to close out yet another stellar Birthday show. We can’t wait to see what is in store for the 13th Birthday, Bar Mitzvah, edition in 2020.
[Photos by Michael Green]
[Article by Michael Green and David Miller]
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