Sunday, July 29, 2012

Xponential Festival

Last weekend I scored a pass to the 3-day Xponential Music Festival across the river in South Jersey. Xpn is a local public radio station that has introduced me to some of my favorite emerging artists. While the rest of the tri-state area trekked down to slower-lower Delaware for Firefly, I knew Xponential would be the better choice. Even with Jack White as one of Firefly's headliners, the Xponential lineup was stacked this year. Here are some my favorite moments from the weekend...

The Lumineers were the second band to open up the weekend Friday afternoon at Wiggin's park, drawing a large crowd despite the poor weather predictions. They are mostly known for their song "Ho Hey," but their recently released album is full of catchy fun songs you can't help but sing along to. This was actually the second time I've seen the Lumineers live (the first being at Johnny Brenda's with Kopecky Family Band) and I can honestly say they are a great band to see live!

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound: I had heard a few JC Brooks songs on the radio prior to seeing him at Xponential but his set on Friday night exceeded my expectations for sure. This funky, soul artist is a modern day Otis Redding, and I loved every minute of his set. Hopefully he will make his way back to Philadelphia again soon.

Dawes, currently one of my favorite bands, was Dawesome Friday night. Even though I saw them in June (twice at Bonnaroo) you can never have enough Dawes in your life. Their set was a good mix of both their albums and a new song from their upcoming release. If you haven't had a chance to listen to or see Dawes live I highly suggest you get on!

Good Old War, a local Philly band, opened up my Saturday morning at Xponential with some great tunes preparing everyone for the great day of music that laid ahead.

Delta Rae: The first time I heard "Bottom of the River" by Delta Rae on the radio I was blown away by the powerful, soulful voice that came blasting through my car speakers. This 6-piece band from North Carolina rocked the park Saturday afternoon, plowing through a number of new songs on their recently released album. Being such a large band they have 4 lead singers, adding such a great dynamic and diversity to their song collection. The crowd, especially myself, quickly fell in love with this band. Fingers crossed they come back to Philadelphia soon! Oh and I'm pretty sure this is my new theme song.

I'm not usually drawn to female artists (unless they are the epitome of pop, aka Britney Spears) but when XPN introduced me to Kathleen Edwards months ago I was instantly hooked to her sultry tunes and was excited to hear she would be playing at Xponential this year. I loved her set, even if she got emotional at times and broke her guitar...oops!

Saturday night was epic. Starting off with local favorite Dr. Dog, followed by The Avett Brothers, and finishing out the night with Wilco. I unfortunately was not able to photograph those sets myself but getting to see each of those bands was amazing in itself! 

The third and final day of Xponential was gorgeous out and it didn't hurt that I was absolutely psyched to see the remaining lineup... 

Work Drugs started off the day with a fantastic set. The half Philly half Florida band, who apparently sailed up from the Florida keys(??), got the crowd grooving Sunday morning with some fun tunes that matched the perfect weather.

JD McPherson: The first time I heard JD McPherson I literally thought XPN was playing a throw back from the mid 60s. His old school voice transports you back to the good ol' days of rock-n-roll and you just can't help but get up and dance.

I first fell in love with Argentine-American singer Diego Garcia when I heard "You Were Never There" on the radio--it reminds me of a Spanish influenced Beatles song (if that makes any sense). Seeing him live with a full band made me fall in-love with him all over again.

I had no idea who or what Kaki King was before xponential but I don't think anyone in the crowd that day, including myself, will ever forget. I was mesmerized by Kaki King's fantastic guitar skills throughout her entirely acoustic set with various rigged guitars--"I can teach you how to not play the guitar, on the guitar." King is finishing up a new album that will be released this fall.

Rhett Miller closed out the Wiggin's park stage with a great performance Sunday afternoon. Rhett sure knows how to whip his hair back and forth ;)

Sunday night was slightly underwhelming, with the exception of Delta Spirit who always rocks my world. The Counting Crows were the final show of the weekend and though I love all the classic Counting Crows songs, the band was determined to play only their new songs (which I don't know nor care to know). I was able to catch a glimpse of the set list and there was nothing really exceptional to see after "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" and "Long December," both of which were mid-set, so I ended up leaving early. A friend of mine said they changed up the set list and played "Rain King" but then ended the show with "This Land Is Your Land"...random?

Even with the Counting Crows flop Xponential was a fantastic weekend of music. I'm so happy I was able to go and I can't wait to see what is up their sleeve for next year's festival!