Posted by: pop-break | September 26, 2011

Pop-Break Live: POPPED! Music Festival

jason stives reviews the POPPED! Music Festival in words and video …

After hastily moving the event from the outdoor glory of FDR Park to Temple’s Liacouras Center (due to weather), the third annual POPPED! Festival took up shop offering a wonderful blend of rock, hip-hop, and techno pop acts. For a crowd that was a mix of locals and college bound out-of-towners, the night was the right place to be in Philadelphia if you were looking for established acts and rambunctious up and comers from all around the dial.

Sadly, some casualties were claimed in the festival’s preparation, but that isn’t the promoter’s fault as it was the limitation of the new setting. Gone, by my arrival at least, were the stand-up acts, the originally planned three stages and, of course, the much-talked-about food bazaar. Instead, concert-goers were treated to the substance of most basketball games. What would’ve been a showcase of the best local foods in the greater Philadelphia area was deduced to hot dogs, pretzels, and cheap beer. This is not by choice, and thankfully it was a good compromise for the young patrons who seemed armed and ready to enjoy the events of the day.

Youth prospered at POPPED! thanks in part to an impressive line up of some of the most revered acts of the past few years. Adorned in hipster garb of flannel, cut-off shorts, and sun glasses, these day-glow children reveled in being part of the image the festival invoked. From the bird’s-eye view of a person simply there to enjoy great music and a great idea, it seemed pretentious. That it was until glow sticks started flying and the overall joy and carefree nature of the concert really shined setting up for the first live performance of the day that I would see.

I missed earlier performances from both Titus Andronicus and Cults, so my first helping of the festival’s act was a double dose of hip-hop delivered by Rakim and later Kreayshawn. Kreayshawn, in particular, was coming off her nomination for Best New Artist at this year’s Video Music Awards, but that kind of buzz surely didn’t get to her head during her performance. The pint-size hip hop diva on the rise was met with a mixed reaction but warmed to the crowd instantly with her infectious squeaking rap style and hip-popping, finger-snapping beats. Tracks like “Gucci Gucci” hit well with her core audience in attendance, and she genuinely seemed to be enjoying herself. This performance came on her birthday, as her posse duly noted, so it was probably an extra special performance for her.

Currently riding on the success of their summer hit “Pumped Up Kicks,” one would think that the crowd in waiting would have felt jaded by the presence of Foster The People. The quintet has surely had much to be happy about, but there hasn’t been one area that this song hasn’t received airplay, so fatigue no doubt has set in. However, neither parties cared and their entrance to the stage around 7 o’ clock was met with an eruption of eagerness. Singer Mark Foster and his band of merry synth-happy men were not ones to disappoint, clamoring through an eight-song set capped off by playing of their hit song. The group’s musicianship on stage is one to make note of as each song is played with as much gusto for new comers as it is for their devoted fans. Tracks like “Waste” and the band’s current single, “Helena Beat,” roared hard and fast through the PA system thanks in part to the band’s wonderful rhythm section, which each member seemed to be a part of. That’s a band’s kinship for you there.

After a brief intermission for the setup, Girl Talk delivered an impressive array of sights and sounds. all to the tune of his collective mash-ups of everything from Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” to Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The U.S.A.” The enigmatic DJ masked his presence with barrage of concert goers dancing on stage amidst a haze of flames and confetti. The jam-packed Liacouras Center shook, shuttered, and popped their way through track after track declaring the quickest dance-a-thon in history.

Having exhausted myself of too much dancing and singing, we exited the arena hastily before the headliner, Pretty Lights, even set up shop. What could’ve been ruined by having a less than atmospheric vibe was rectified with a crowd primed to dance and party and line up very willing to offer the best pop music around to hungry college students and music lovers from all around the tri-state area. Judging by the response, the festival that has now been annual for three years will definitely return for a fourth engagement in 2012, if not under better weather conditions.

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