Words by: Bobby Coleman | Images by: Rod Snyder
State Radio :: 01.30.10 :: Electric Factory :: Philadelphia, PA
State Radio's bio on MySpace reads like a manifesto: "For generations of American songwriters, the music and the message have been inextricably linked. Word and deed are one in the same, and the only thing more moving than the rousing call to action is the song that transports the words like a shell casing." The band, whose members include, Chad Stokes Urmston (guitar, lead vocals and previously a member of Dispatch), Chuck Fay (bass) and Mike Najarian (drums), is genuinely trying to change the world with its music.
But they don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk. Onstage they mix indie rock with reggae and socially conscious lyrics that inspire ever-growing crowds to create change and fight injustice. Off stage they pull their weight as well. On State Radio's current tour, the band is engaging in community service projects before shows. On this day they spent three hours painting murals with fans at a recreation center in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Last year they logged 3,000 hours with their fans doing projects like these, as well as bringing attention to election reform, removing invasive plants in California, partnering with Oxfam America to help protect Sudanese women from violence, and working with Amnesty International to expose injustice in the legal system.
"Wage Peace" was written on the stage backdrop in the center of a radiating mandala and the band's coordinated light show was nothing short of amazing. But underneath the pretty colors and beautiful harmonies were songs of pain and turmoil. With a packed house and a pristine sound, the energy level was astounding. The crowd shouted lyrics and Urmston didn't stop jumping off the amp stack for the first 15 minutes of the show.
Midway though the concert they played "Doctor Ron the Actor." Based around a ska beat, the band showed a lighter side by breaking into a humorous prerecorded answering machine message set against sharp rhythm precision. Other highlights included "Calling All Crows," which is not only a song title but the name of State Radio's organization that mobilizes musicians and fans to promote human rights, and a very well played "Bohemian Grove."
Following in the footsteps of heroes like Guthrie, Dylan, Rage Against the Machine, Michael Franti and so many more, State Radio use their music as a tool to evoke the change they want to see. Rarely is revolution so much fun.
State Radio is on tour now; dates available here.
Continue reading for lots more pics of State Radio in Philadelphia...