Envy on the Coast, DangerRadio, Another Day Late
Philadelphia, PA February 15, 2008
by Brittany Sturges
A cold chill lingered in the air, but that wasn’t going to stop the fans (though it did make them a bit irritable when the doors opened late). As the crowd did a slow procession through the doors, the kids (a lot with their parents) had sing-a-longs to songs they couldn’t remember and proceeded to get utterly excited anytime a member of the crew walked by.
Meanwhile, I was a bit excited as it was my first time at the First Unitarian Church. I’ve been to all sorts of venues over the last couple of years—VFW halls, large venues, bookstores, clothing stores, bars, music stores, etc.—but never a church basement. As the kids packed in (making a rush to merch for a new favorite t-shirt), I noticed the interior—wooden panels and harsh lighting. I found myself barricaded by one of the elevated speakers and was prepared to make the best of the situation.
First up was California band, Another Day Late. Dressed in an Envy on the Coast t-shirt, the lead singer bounced around the rest of the band, belting out vocals. Overall, this band wasn’t great—but they weren’t awful.
Next up was Danger on the Radio, whose CD I’ve really been meaning to listen to (it’s even on my iPod, waiting in anticipation), but never have. Bringing their dance beat to the stage, this quintet was energetic, trying desperately to involve the crowd. Some fans decided to throw their bras on stage; really, was that necessary? When did we go back to the boy band era? Even the band seemed a little taken aback by the gesture. One of the bras was displayed prominently on a microphone stand during the set. Toward the end, the lead singer started the sixth hand clap (which should only be reserved for certain songs, thank you very much), claiming that there would be a great “dance party.” Hmm, funny, I didn’t get that invitation because the song fell flat. Maybe it was one too many hand claps, but fans seemed to have lost their fire. If anything, I walked away, knowing that I finally found a band that used synth that I did not enjoy.
Envy on the Coast was next—the one band that I was utterly excited to check out. They started off strong, with the band taking over the stage. Fans began flocking to the front of the stage, in a desperate attempt to reach out and sing along with the lead singer. As strings were strummed, the band had an intensity that seemed to be reviving the crowd. However, halfway through, the piano became unplugged. In a hurried effort, one of the crew tried to fix it—then, the lighting that the band had brought started to fail. For a few moments, what seemed to be the highlight of my evening became a sort of melee. However, kudos most be given to the band for keeping their cool and continuing with the show, despite the interruptions. They just kept playing and within a short amount of time, things returned to their original state. Drenched in the light, the lead singer flung his body into the crowd. Arms grabbed at his body as he made his way about a quarter of the way out before being returned to the stage. At times, he seemed to crawl out on the fans' hands—not that any of them seemed to mind. In retrospect, the music (off of their CD, Lucy Gray) was just the thing I needed to lift my spirits. Their performance was decent, considering all the things thrown in at them. After they finished, the fans were not pleased and proceeded to chant “one more song.” They were nonetheless disappointed when their request was not granted.
Then came the Audition. Celebrating the release of their sophomore release, Champion, I was hoping for a decent performance. The last time I had seen them come through Philly, their show was forgettable and I was hoping that tonight would be different.
Their set-up time seemed to drag on. What caught my eye was not the various instruments being set up on stage—instead, it was the black bedazzled pimp cup that was being taken up by one of the crew members. Interesting.
After being asked to step aside for their entrance, the Chicago pop-rock band finally made their entrance. Walking on stage to Flo Rida’s "Low,” the band lined up on stage, taking their respective places, as the crowd danced along to the beat. They broke into their set, full of both old and new material, which is always nice for the fans who may not be familiar with the latest work. The fans were creeping toward the stage, as the air in the room got hotter and stuffier. As I found refuge in the back, I noticed that the band had pulled in a great crowd size for the room, full of fans that were eating up every riff and lyric.
Was it the fact that they had just released a new album or was it the fact that they were headliners? Did it matter? Either way, Philly fans of the Chicago quintet were on, ready to dance and sing at any given moment…and oh, they did just that.