Two of the biggest names from Radio 104.1- John Fuller and morning host David Fisch- have been telling the tale of saving the station from corporate radio for years. At 104 Fest the crowd was grateful to say the least as Fuller talked about his favorite elements of the station including promoting local businesses and music with their program “Homebrew”. This was Radio 104 Fest- a celebration of Radio 104.1 and alternative music.
The event was jam packed with a two-stage set up, allowing the acts to go nearly back-to-back, a rarity in most concerts, while also flexing the diversity of the music that was playing. The main stage featured the headliners- the indie rock outfit Joywave, 1990’s classic The Verb Pipe, the young, energetic New Politics, and the main act for the evening- genre fusion legends 311.
The secondary stage was a place for younger acts who, although were still earning their chops, were completely excited for the chance to play to the gathering crowd and show respect for their favorite radio station. Joey Battes and Them, a Connecticut hip hop group, opened up the night on this stage. This was an appropriate start for the night as hip-hop and rap was intertwined with the music we would see being played.
Following Joey Battes was our western Massachusetts neighbors, Polar Planet. They set the standard for the night with full sounding music and explosive hooks, and had some unique atmospheric elements with some stuttery, sythny guitar and the occasional teases of ethereal piano. Of course, they catered part of their performance to the Radio 104.1 crowd with a cover of “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind.
First act on the main stage, Joywave. The Rochester based indie rockers offered a danceable indie pop set with twangy guitar and crystal clear vocals in songs like “Shutdown.” Their best song of the night was the choppy, abrasive “Doubt”. It had a high pitch whirring noise throughout the song, with crunchy bass and even bizarre chip tune like noises. Joywave left us with a sample of their new album “Content”.
The local cover band Punchdrunk took the secondary stage to offer some classic alternative hits from Fall Out Boy and Seven Nation Army, and even a unique rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of your body”. In talking to the crowd, they led the enthusiasm for Radio 104.1 dedication to alternative rock.
The Verb Pipe was up next with the gutsiest performance of the night- an acoustic set of their biggest hits that sounded like a mash up of Phil Collins and Dave Matthews. I thought the crowd would tear them apart- acoustic at an alternative fest? The two didn’t quite match. It was a reverse maneuver of Bob Dylan’s infamous “plugging in” at Newport Folk- except the crowd actually loved it, and learned a bit about the history of their Number 1 Billboard song “The Freshman”.
New Politics came onto stage with high-octane energy as they performed pop punk with a hip hop backbone. They played some of their classic hits including “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “Tonight You’re Perfect” and even a cover of “Sabatoge” by Beastie Boys. The lead singer, David Boyd, was literally off the walls with excitement as he jumped into the crowd and declared that Hartford had one of the loudest crowds on the tour so far. However, the crowd only got louder with the arrival of 311.
It has been a big week for Rap-Rock- Kid Rock has announced a Senate run in Michigan and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park has died at the age of 41. With these stories on top of the critical success of their new album, 311 is more relevant now than ever. Their set was nothing short of amazing- they can still rap and play just as fast on the classic songs like “Come Original” and “Down” and their new songs were just as beautiful and reflective as the album itself.
Bands like 311 embody the idea of Radio 104.1. What is alternative music? What is it alternative to? A trend in contemporary music is the “genre” being a myth- and labels being a barrier. 311 questioned that idea when they started in the 1990s by fusing rock, rap, reggae, and more traditions. Radio 104.1 recognizes their sentiments by not limiting themselves to one particular sound but by exploring a manifold of bands and styles- and they mirrored their effortsat 104 Fest by putting on a diverse, unique concert.