Tag Archives: popped music festival

Popped! Music Festival Rocked North Philadelphia

28 Sep

Popped! Music Festival got off to a rocky start, before the first peal of reverb ripped through the air. Due to a flood inducing, very rainy forecast, festival organizers made the decision to move the event indoors to the Liacouras Center on Temple University’s Main Campus. That meant no more Food Bazaar and one stage instead of three. And all this rapid fire change took place in what seemed to be an impressive 24-hour time span. The result could’ve been chaotic and disorganized, but such was not the case. It was as if the Liacouras Center had been part of the plan all along.

Dead Confederate opened the festival late Friday afternoon, opting to play Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night front to back. Well, that was the intention until the festival was relocated indoors and their set time was whittled down to 30 minutes. The concept was cool, but I would have liked to hear some original tunes out of them. The band is a septet from Georgia, and although you can hear the southern in their style, they don’t seem too heavily rooted in it. They have a chill, haunting vibe that is very nouveau-grunge. And dare I say I hear hints of Kurt Cobain in the lead singer, Hardy Morris’ voice…?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. were the total package. Neon checkered jackets? Check. Lots and lots of bubbles? Check and check. The bubbles bumped the duo’s feel good vibe up to 11, and their rendition of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” only added to the endearing little bromance they seem to have going.

Company of Thieves may be in their mid-twenties, but they rocked it as good as, if not better than, some of their veteran rock & roll counterparts. Singer Genevieve Schatz packs quite an energy injected wallop for such a tiny person, and I think it’s safe to say that all in attendances’ collective jaw hit the floor that such a tiny person could fill up a stage so much. Everyone was buzzing about their set and were especially buzzing about Schatz as a lead singer, who channelled the likes of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, and even a little Scott Weiland when she whipped out a megaphone. Schatz is a bonafide powerhouse and she’s joined by a band who rises up to meet her. These guys are the ones to watch, and if you don’t know about Company of Thieves yet, you should.

The Joy Formidable would have been a great follow for the rockin’ energy Schatz & Co. created but alas, they opted out of their performance. Speculation was swirling as to the reason and there were murmurings that it was due to lack of getting a soundcheck but a formal reason was never given. The band did issue the following veiled apology on their Facebook page:

“Oh Popped Festival… we tried so so hard, but circumstances beyond our control forced us to abandon today’s set. We’re gutted, we were so looking forward to playing Philly again. Rest assured, we’re back soon & we’ll make this up to you. This isn’t something we take lightly. Details soon. All our love, RRMx”

Synthesizers, synthesizers, synthesizers. That was the theme of Day #2 at Popped!

Hometown boys Sun Airway were the first band that I saw on Day #2 to debut the 80s music staple, but their sound was firmly rooted in The Bends-era Radiohead. But where Thom Yorke constantly sounds like someone killed his cat, Sun Airway’s sound is mellow and ethereal, but there’s still a sense of hope in the melancholic, sense of longing the tone of their songs takes on. They were very The National meets whatever would come between Joy Division and New Order. Sadly, however, the crowd was still pretty thin by the time of their late afternoon performance on Saturday, as many shuffled in for the early evening performances of Foster the People, Girl Talk and Pretty Lights, the first of which were the highlight of the festival.

By the time Foster the People took the stage, the crowd was ready for them. Kreayshawn, who was performed just prior was a droning, grating, annoying miss, but Foster the People was a major hit. Singer Mark Foster knew how to win over his audience the second he set foot onstage, showing some Philly pride by wearing a snappy, red Phillies vest.

The band had the stage presence and energy that reminded me of Coldplay and a musical style that is refreshingly all their own. Foster’s voice has a pitch this side of Adam Levine’s, and given the love/hate reception Levine seems to be met with, I am on the love side of the line meaning Foster’s following in his footsteps is an absolute good thing. Levine and his moves like Jagger are sex on two feet, even with that falsetto, and something tells me Foster isn’t that far behind.

And he’s already got some groupies, that’s one thing for sure. “Someone lost a bra…who is the owner of this bra?” Foster drawled after someone hurled a black brassiere his way. “I’m keeping it,” he said and hooked it onto his mic stand. This is definitely a band worthy of their buzz. They’re phenomenal – and that’s not a word I throw around, especially when it comes to my music. They blistered through rocker after rocker, barely coming up for air, and by the time they launched into a rock/techno hybrid remix of “Pumped Up Kicks,” the entire arena was going nuts. Foster the People proves there’s hope for music yet.

Elbow at the 2011 Popped! Music Festival

27 Sep

A little after 8 o’clock on Friday at the Popped! Music Festival in Philadelphia, Elbow took the stage, and, in an instant, it was evident that these five rockers were the veterans of the two day line-up. Not to say that the acts who came before them were bad or amateurish in any way, but Elbow is a flash forward of who these acts can become two decades down the line. In fact, singer Guy Garvey announced, “We’re celebrating 20 years together,” after someone down in front wished him a Happy 20th.

Overall, Garvey had a very laid back vibe about him, but the band’s musical stylings were anything but. Accompanied by two “violin girls,” Elbow’s sound was grandiose and robust – a transcendental, otherworldly force of spell binding noise.

The set opened with “The Birds,” and “The Bones of You,” a pair of haunting, celestial ballads that turned into an all out aural assault three songs in when the band launched into “Grounds for Divorce.”  Striations of their Brit pop/rock counterparts Duran Duran, New Order and even Oasis were laced throughout their songs, outing them as a product of the early 90s. However, they lent credit to the old adage, “You’re only as young as you feel.”

Most of the acts playing Popped! were solidly planted in their early to mid-twenties, but despite being a tad further along in years, Garvey was very pro-youth, fitting right in with the largely college-age crowd. “If you treat people like dicks it’s because you’re a dick,” he said, after referring to youths being inaccurately judged and mistreated in the band’s native UK.

And youth seems to be a theme for the band on their fifth and latest release, Build a Rocket Boys!  The album originally had the working title Lippy Kids, and according to Elbow’s Wiki page, Garvey told BBC 6 Music’s Shaun Keaveney,

“It’s quite a nostalgic thing. I’ve got a thing about growing up – not needing to! But a certain period of your life when – well kids are called ‘hoodies’ these days, aren’t they, when they reach their teens. I remember it being an amazing important time, so I’ve written a lot about that.”

This nostalgia trip notion showed most in “Lippy Kids” off their latest. It also confirmed comparisons in the media that Garvey is Peter Gabriel’s vocal doppelganger. “Look out for each other. Cheers,” Garvey said before launching into the final song for the evening, “One Day Like This.” At Popped! last Friday night, Elbow separated the men from the boys, and hopefully, they’ll be rocking the same way two more decades from now.

Popped! Music Festival Finds a Home at Philadelphia’s FDR Park

19 Sep

This Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24, the Popped! Music Festival will take place in its new, permanent home of FDR Park in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has some of the largest parks in the country, one of which being FDR Park, and after four years of holding the festival in various venues scattered throughout the city, Popped! is finally in a set and recurring location. Festival creator, Alexis Rosenzweig, says, “Our goal was really getting into the park and we did that, and now we have a permanent location to operate out of.”

The idea for a festival in Philadelphia emerged from Rosenzweig feeling that the city would be a great destination where the people living in and around the city, as well from all over, could come for one weekend and enjoy great music, food and comedy. In its earliest incarnations, however, that wasn’t entirely the case.

The first Popped!, held in 2007, was what Rosenzweig would call a “DIY operation.” There were no investors then and each day was treated like a show to a few thousand people across multiple venues. Then, the next year, the festival took place in one location, outside on Drexel’s campus, and featured Vampire Weekend and the Ting Tings, two artists who were on the cusp of major recognition, which is what Rosenzweig looks for when booking acts for Popped!

“For me what Popped! is really all about is being trendsetters,” Rosenzweig says. “I really try to find acts who are about to blow up, and the Ting Tings are a perfect example of that.” The Ting Tings opened the Drexel campus festival, and by that point, “Shut Up and Let Me Go” was number 1 on the Billboard charts. “I try to look for acts like that who are going to be relevant by the time the festival happens,” she says.

As far as stand-out artists at this year’s festival, Rosenzweig puts Foster the People at the top of the list. They appeared on her radar by way of a promoter friend when the band was playing at Philly’s 110 capacity seating, Kung Fu Necktie. Her friend forwarded her a Craigslist ad showing a listing by someone scalping tickets for the show for $70, which is more than a single day ticket at Popped! Rosenzweig didn’t even know the name of the band at that point but based on their buzzworthiness, she booked them for the festival without ever having seen them. Then, that all changed at this year’s Lollapalooza this past August, and Rosenzweig saw how people were freaking out to their songs. “It’s exciting to see a band like get so successful so quickly,” she says.

Also on her list of artists she’s excited to see are Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. who are friends of hers and have an incredible live show. She says, “I’m excited to see them in a festival vibe.” She adds that Girl Talk always does well in this market, and Kreaysean will not only play her first show ever in Philly, but Popped! marks her first festival, as well. The Shins are only doing a handful of shows this year and Rosenweig is excited Popped! is one of them. “Pretty Lights have grown tremendously. I haven’t seen their live show yet, but I hear it’s out of control,” she says and adds, “I think the lineup is really great.”

Rosenzweig has been working in events for the last decade, half of which has been spent working in the Philadelphia area, working largely with the Roots. While working on events in music is her background, she says a lot of it is a politically driven job. When planning a festival, so much has to do with the city and the location, and it has to be sold as what it will bring in terms of revenue and will be good for the city. “I was very lucky to have people who believed in this and had the city very much onboard,” she says.

Citing Lollapalooza, again, as an example, Rosenzweig knows Chicago was very accommodating about hosting the festival there and says, “There’s always red tape and always hurdles in any city, but at the end of the day, the city has to be on board with, ‘Yes, this is going to generate commerce, going to generate revenue and going to bring people into the city.’”

But Popped! differs from Lollapalooza in that Rosenzweig isn’t trying to be exactly like the festival giant. “It’s about a long term goal, it’s about building. We’re trying to do this is in the most organic way possible and not going into it trying to do a Lollapalooza-type festival.” Meaning, it is not a touring festival, like Lollapalooza, which has its own identity and has x amount of money to hold it in cities that vary year to year without a set location.

“FDR Park is probably in the most convenient location you can imagine,” Rosenzweig says. The park is directly across the street from the Philadelphia sports complex. And while people are expected to come from New York, Baltimore, Allentown, New Jersey, Delaware, and any number of Philadelphia’s surrounding, which are vast, Popped! is about providing a festival for people who live in this area. “Philly is a driving city – lots of people work outside the city and drive in for work and to see shows,” she says. Those familiar with events held in Philly, are familiar with the area and know the drill in terms of driving to that location.

Popped! has built on itself since it started and has grown already from where it began. “It’s catered to fit where we’re at with the festival here, the grounds that we’re on and what the market is.” She says it’s important to look at all those things when taking on a project like this, and knows how easy it could be to go in, blow it out in an enormous way and not look down the road, long term. Rosenzweig is looking down the road, and at how Popped! Music Festival can grow in an organic way so the people of Philadelphia have a festival to enjoy for many years to come.

For more information on where to stay, transportation and a list of the festival’s full lineup, check out http://poppedphiladelphia.com/.

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