Download: Philadelphia

Technically New Jersey considering the venue where Saturday’s Download Festival occurred resides just across the Delaware River in Camden, NJ. Regardless of its actual location, Download: Philadelphia, run by Live Nation and partnered with SPIN, was a great (if exhausting) day filled with even better music. Leave it to Live Nation and SPIN to put together a festival with not only the biggest names in music (The Killers) and living legends (Iggy & the Stooges), but with the relatively unknown and the fast rising up and comers.

One day. Two stages. Sixteen bands.
Check it out —

1:30-2:00 // William Fitzsimmons // 5 Gum Stage

William Fitzsimmons is a beautifully soft spoken yet witty singer songwriter self-proclaimed to write a lot of songs about divorce because his parents were as is he as of late. He “screwed someone over. In case you were wondering.”

William Fitzsimmons

Due to the very first slot of 10-hour concert, the crowd for Fitzsimmons wasn’t great, but with over 42,000 MySpace friends and lots of press love, he shouldn’t be wanting for attention. The early birds in attendance, myself included of course, were treated to a soft and amazing cover of Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking.”

2:00-2:30 // Colour Revolt // Main Stage

2:30-3:00 // Alberta Cross // 5 Gum Stage

Imports Alberta Cross sat around a picnic table rather nonchalantly both before and after their set on the 5 Gum Stage, their demeanor hardly giving away how hard they’d rock once they picked up their instruments. Their ambient yet hard as nails rock pulled in the crowd with a solid set.

Photo: Jessica McGinley

Jessica McGinley

Photo: Jessica McGinley

3:00-3:30 // The Parlor Mob // Main Stage

Local guys The Parlor Mob threw down on the Main Stage having recently flown in from performing at Lollapalooza just the day before. Jet lag be damned, the quintet had great energy and stage presence as they flew through a slick set.

3:30-4:00 // Eli “Paperboy” Reed & the True Loves // 5 Gum Stage

Undeniably one of the best performances of the day came from Eli “Paperboy” Reed & the True Loves. The crowd was transported back to the late 50s, when rock ‘n roll had real soul, the instant Reed’s vocals exploded over swinging riffs, jazzy horns and groovin’ beats. Reed and his True Loves ability to bridge generational and genre gaps is inspiring: their soulful rock got both the Y-Rock and the Prairie Home Companion (not to say the two are mutually exclusive) crowds grooving at the 5 Gum Stage on Saturday.

4:00-4:45 // Louis XIV // Main Stage

Dirty blues rockers Louis XIV — another band who worked both Download and Lolla — played a solid set of both hit singles from their debut album The Best Little Secrets Are Kept and the more recent Slick Dogs and Ponies.

4:30-5:00 // The Airborne Toxic Event // 5 Gum Stage

Something about the 5 Gum Stage perhaps, but The Airborne Toxic Event pulled off one of the best sets of the day, following Reed’s slot. Their sound check alone had the audience, who’d been waiting the 30 minutes since Reed/the True Loves left the stage, dancing around and demanding more when the sound guy (wrongly) said they had to wait for the Main Stage performers to stop before they could start.

The band, whose self-titled, debut album drops tomorrow, pulled off a powerful set that only disappointed the crowd by ending.

5:15-6:00 // Man Man // Main Stage

Some technical difficulties with Honus Honus’ monitor got locals Man Man off to a bit of a late start, but their frantically high-powered set more than made up it. In true Man Man fashion, they donned their customary all white attire complete with random strokes of white face paint. The band blasted through older songs like “Black Mission Goggles” and tracks from their newest release Rabbit Habits including “Big Trouble,” “The Ballad of Butter Beans” (my favorite), and single “Mister Jung Stuffed.”

My love for Man Man runs deep, so deep that I skipped over The Enemy UK’s set to stick around for all that Man Man had to offer. I was not disappointed.

6:15-7:00 // The Duke Spirit // 5 Gum Stage

Another highly impressive act came in the form of the UK’s The Duke Spirit. Seeing drummer Olly walking around all day, I was pretty sure he would’ve been a pretty good look alike for a part in I’m Not There. Front woman Liela Moss certainly knows how to entertain an audience as she belts out Brit indie pop rock.

6:30-7:15 // Mute Math // Main Stage

Lush piano melodies, steady beats, high enegry and a keytar! On Saturday someone told me that Mute Math is this generation’s Rush. Interpret that as you wish.

7:15-8:00 // The Whigs // 5 Gum Stage

Athens, GA trio The Whigs also pulled double duty over the weekend, playing Download: Philadelphia on Saturday and jetting over to Chicago for Lolla on Sunday. The rocked it pretty hard on the 5 Gum Stage, although I admittedly skipped out a bit early to catch some of the Man Man Q&A and to ensure I wouldn’t miss a second of Ghostland Observatory over on the Main Stage.

7:45-8:30 // Ghostland Observatory // Main Stage

Hyperactive bliss. Ghostland Observatory is off the wall, in your face fun and madness set to the beep blip boop of electro pop… with braided pigtails.

8:15-9:00 // Sia // 5 Gum Stage

I don’t know what rock I’ve been under, but I didn’t realize Sia had such a large and dedicated fan base. The crowd loved every single thing she did. It was pretty unreal. Listening to her sing, it’s not hard to understand why she’s got rabid fans. She packed out the 5 Gum Stage, holding the crowd until she herself left, despite the concurrence of her set’s end and Iggy & the Stooge’s beginning.

9:00-10:00 // Iggy & the Stooges // Main Stage

Legendary. What else is there to say? Iggy has an insane amount of energy and just wows.

10:30-11:45 // The Killers // Main Stage

To end the night, the Killers put on an elaborate show that undoubtedly pleased the masses; I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there. I’ve seen them before and was wowed then. I expect wow-factor came into play on Saturday night.
Please note: Only the Killers’ personal band photographer was allowed to shoot the band so please don’t look to me for an explanation regarding the quality of these photographs.

On the whole, Download: Philadelphia was a wonderful festival that I sincerely hope will become an annual event in the City of Brotherly Love.

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One Response

  1. […] to be there for 50’s style rocker Eli “Paperboy” Reed, whom she had seen at Download: Philadelphia. Eli "Paperboy" […]

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