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For the last few years, Radio 104.5, Philly’s #1 alternative rock station, has been putting on free festival-like events throughout the city featuring some of the biggest national touring acts. Winter Jam has rightly earned its name. Last year (headed by The Gaslight Anthem), a massive Nor’easter snowstorm plowed through the region hours before doors even opened. The previous year, Twenty-One Pilots and Switchfoot performed through a blizzard.  Before that, Tegan & Sara performed in sub-freezing temperatures.

Winter Jam 2016 -Radio104.5fm ©2016 Henry Chung 01
Photo by Henry Chung

So it was with great pleasure that we received clears skies with an inexplicably warm high of 63 degrees for the 2016 event held at Xfinity Live, nestled next to the Wells Fargo Center.

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Opening the festivities was Coleman Hell. To be honest, I had no idea who he was. Though he did put on a very enjoyable albeit forgettable set, it wasn’t until he closed with his single “2 Heads” that I recognized anything. Shortly after, was a special guest appearance by X-Ambassadors. They were scheduled to play next door at the Wells Fargo Center with MUSE later that evening. They came on stage for an acoustic performance of their current singles “Renegade” and “Unsteady” to a very receptive crowd.

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For Nathaniel Ratliff & the Night Sweats’ set, I wasn’t able to even get near the stage. There were way too many people crowded into the photo pit. With a mix of photographers, journalists, bloggers and members with “All Access” lingering around with their smartphones out, security started kicking people out left and right. From what I could tell, the audience liked what they heard as the crowds begin to double every minute.

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Having only been introduced to them last year, Lehigh Valley’s own Summer Scouts came on 2nd at the Locals Stage. Though they play fairly often in the area, I somehow managed to keep missing them so I was excited to finally see them live (and they did not disappoint!) Their song “” has been gaining momentum across college radio station networks in the area, so I was quite proud to see these guys getting more recognition.

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Backstage you could catch Elle King enjoying herself watching the other acts perform. When it came time for her set, a capacity crowd filled the space in front of the stage. Fighting through some minor technical difficulties during “Jackson”, Elle made the best of it. With a banjo in hand, she told the crowd about how she used to live in Philly right before going into “Good to Be a Man.” As soon as I was escorted out of the photo pit, I moved towards the Locals Stage across the venue. By the time I fought my way through, you could hear her closing her set with her massive hit “Ex’s and Oh’s.”

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Closing the Locals Stage for the night was the Cold Fronts. As they were setting up, I noticed a familiar face on stage. It was Alex Luquet on bass. I had just run into him the night before at a local benefits show at the Ice House in Bethlehem. I wasn’t aware that he was performing today as well (the band’s bio says they’re based out of Philly but Alex is from Bethlehem.)

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In the previous year’s Winter Jam, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness opened so it was only appropriate that this year, they closed the night off. Having just played at the Electric Factory the night before with a Jack’s Mannequin 10yr Anniversary show.  Andrew made it clear that he was excited to close Winter Jam this year.  He thanked Radio 104.5 for all the years of support and ended the show with “Synesthesia” while crowd surfing on top of the rabid audience.

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Photos & Words by:

Henry Chung – When Henry’s not busy updating this page and speaking in third person, he’s busy shooting and editing pictures from concerts and designing logos for bands.

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