My girlfriend, Sandra, and I attended the first of two concert series days for Philadelphia alternative rock radio station Radio 104.5's birthday celebration this past Sunday. Looking back at the awesomeness and good times in retrospect, it was...convention-like?

So, I basically spent all of last week just gushing about how excited I was that we were going to actually see CHVRCHES performing live. Early Sunday evening, we finally did, and it was great!! However, the entirety of the experience of that day cannot be summarized entirely by just that performance, or even the fact that there were multiple performances going on. What ended up surrounding and fitting between the music was just as important.

Maybe that’s a bit vague and nonsensical? To best get the context across, it would probably help to have an idea of how the birthday celebration venue, the BB&T Pavilion, was laid out. Thus, pulled almost entirely from memory, here’s a rough diagram of that.

The Pavilion is basically a fenced-in outdoor area with the concert proceedings positioned in the middle. Flanking each side of concert area was an outdoor expanse with concession stands, some picnic tables, and a lot of empty space. Thus, our tickets to the birthday celebration bought us not only the chance to hear the likes of Portugal. The Man and Thirty Seconds to Mars, but also some places to just chill, hang out, and get food and drinks outside of the pomp and circumstance of the performances as we so chose.

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All of that empty space essentially served like a dealer’s room in particular. There were plenty of food and alcohol vendors as would be expected of a concert, but promotional stalls for such things as protein bars and even cigars (for some god-forsaken reason) were also present. There was even the equivalent of a convention’s tiny humble panel room in the form of a secondary stage where several other bands put on shows!

With all of that in place, Sandra and I ended up approaching the all-day affair of the concert series somewhat similar to a convention. We got there around 2:30 pm, and during the half hour before the start of first band, Saint Slumber, we got the lay of the area along with some drinks. After the end of the second band, The Neighbourhood, we left our concert seating to explore a little more and get some food.

We happened upon the discovery stage within that time, and a band we never heard of before called The Aces was putting on a show. We found them while performing a super catchy tune, “Last One”, which immediately perked both our ears. Everything we heard while in their vicinity, in fact, we liked a good amount! As they told the crowd between songs, they had just released their debut album recently; chances are I’ll be checking that out more in depth soon enough, based off their strong showing. Definitely a nice discovery.

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Photo: WRFF/Paul Froggatt (Radio 104.5 11th Birthday Celebration Day One)

Once we got our food, we sat down at a picnic table, munching on chicken fingers and fries, then chatting it up, and overall resting in general before our big moment with CHVRCHES. We saw some other concertgoers wandering the side areas as well, similarly in pursuit of food or the chance to recollect their bearings. After CHVRCHES, we returned once again to the side areas, because no disrespect towards Walk the Moon, but we weren’t fervently looking to see them live, especially when Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries were calling my name.

Having the option to be away from all of the big concert happenings, whenever we so desired—where the main stage was the equivalent of a room that we could walk in and out of at will, rather than being the whole entire venue—meant that our day was markedly more chill than the prospect of all-day performances may have suggested. It’s something that seems most lifted from a convention experience, whether intentional or (more likely) not, and was a touch that I really appreciated.