The sun shone, literally and figuratively, on the first half of WFNX's annual modern rock blowout on Wednesday. Concertgoers ambled down Lansdowne Street perusing vendors, nibbling on high-end chicken nuggets, and basking in the warm rays. Organizers handled a last-minute glitch -- Southern rockers Kings of Leon canceled due to illness -- by plucking the Cinematics from their late-night slot at Avalon to play the opening set on the outdoor stage.
Maybe it was the novelty of performing in daylight, but the young Scottish band brought a deliciously kicked-back vibe to the angular guitars and machine-gun drums that saturated this music event and the century so far. We can't seem to get enough of the '80s, and the crowd couldn't get enough of Bloc Party. Like the Cinematics, the British quartet trades in melodic post-punk but infuses its music with an art-school grandeur that sets the band apart (and also prevents it from writing hooks). Wearing a "Bring Back God" T-shirt, charming frontman Kele Okereke whipped the throngs into a surging mass. Unfortunately, the songs began to resemble a surging mass, too.
Even DIY darlings Clap Your Hands Say Yeah managed to evoke the Cure with their demented new disco tune, "Satan Said Dance." Nobody danced, but happy, messy songs like "Heavy Metal" and "In This Home on Ice" inspired some spirited head-bobbing.
Darkness descended, literally and figuratively, when the outdoor stage closed and more than 6,000 concertgoers attempted to move into Avalon, Axis, and Bill's Bar -- which between them hold fewer than 3,000 bodies. You do the math, but suffice to say plenty of unhappy ticket holders were shut out of sets by Bang Camaro -- a galvanizing barrage of riffs, fists, and beer spray -- overhyped pop-punks Say Anything, and a newly earnest version of the Bravery. Clever concertgoers slipped right in to see lesser-known Atlanta indie rockers Snowden, who played hard, dreamy songs with room to breathe.