Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Block Partying

For the past several years of Radio 104.5's Summer Block Party Series, I've wanted to go to every show. And until this Saturday, I had yet to go to any.

I've always tried to take advantage of free concerts, and I'm ashamed to say that my attempts have largely failed. All too often, I've thrown in the towel on finding free concerts, and settled instead for lightening my wallet with the cost of overpriced tickets. It wasn't until I sat down and really thought about all the money I've spent on all those concerts over the years, that I realized how much money I've really spent on all those concerts over the years. Truly an astounding realization, right?

So here's my new vow: From here on out, I will do my best to find free and affordable concerts in our area and share them with you, so that together, we can succeed in satisfying our musical needs without breaking the bank. 

From May through September, Radio 104.5 hosts free concerts at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties on one Saturday afternoon out of each month. As fate would have it, something or someone would pop up and prevent me from going at the last minute. This past Saturday, I was determined to let nothing stand in my way from making to the show, which featured Bad Books, Capital Cities, and Cold War Kids. 

Of course, Saturday rolled around, and hurdles starting springing up on my straight and narrow path to the concert. 

I am a fan of planning. I apologize in advance for my lack of spontaneity, but I prefer to know what will go on and when and why and how and with whom. However, my planning for this concert was just not happening.

Long story short, a "plan" to be there at 3 pm for the 3:45 pm start of the show, became the reality of arriving at around 5 pm. We missed Bad Books' performance completely, but that wasn't going to stop me from enjoying the rest of the show. Not to mention, for one of my accompanying friends, this would be her first concert, so we had to make the most of it!

From what I saw of Capital Cities, they were incredible. They engaged a hot and crowded audience with enthusiasm, jumping all over the stage. I particularly loved their use of trumpet, which adds a uniqueness to their sound unheard of with most other indie pop bands. Singing along to their rendition of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" proved to be a highlight of the concert. 

After Capital Cities came the rain, which I welcomed as a cool break from the heat... Until it started coming down a bit harder and at unpredictable times. The rain staved off Cold War Kids' set, as they had to play on a completely uncovered stage. Although the crowd became uneasy at times, we all remained entertained by the onlookers who threw water balloons from the balconies of the apartment buildings that surround the open-air plaza. 

At around 7 pm, the scheduled ending time for the Block Party, the Cold War Kids finally came out on stage, bringing musical relief to the relatively patient crowd. Even though the crowd surfers became an annoyance and a distraction, I must admit that as soon as the band came out, visions of my body crowd surfing my way closer to the front danced like sugar plums in my head. 

Unfortunately, a friend of mine began to feel faint, leading to our immediate departure towards the back of the crowd only one song into Cold War Kids' set. (Radio 104.5, if you're reading this, have more food and drink vendors available so we can keep people hydrated and full!) 
But it all ended up okay, because she's okay, and because we got to hear Cold War Kids' hit "Miracle Mile" from a comfortable spot on the pavement. Plus, we beat the rush to some delicious pizza down the street at Rustica. (For thin, crispy crust lovers, I highly recommend this place:

Driving home that night, we made about five wrong turns, of course -- it was only fitting. I couldn't have planned for anything that happened that day, which made me realize how futile my little play books become. Sometimes life gets in the way of your plans, and sometimes that makes for the best adventures. 

Here's some more information about the Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party series. I hope to see you there next time!
Here's a few upcoming free concerts and events in Philadelphia, as promised:

An excited crowd for Capital Cities 

A massive crowd at The Piazza at Schmidt's

The enemy stood on their fortress, pummeling us with water balloons  

Cold War Kids arrive with the return of the sun

I just love this city.

All photos by Alison Wallach

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