Hosted by wxpn 88.5, a radio station which broadcasts in the greater Philadelphia/South Jersey area, the XPoNential Music fest kicked off Friday and ran until Sunday. I only attended Sunday, Day 3.
My friend Lilly and I had everything planned out and were set to leave by 11 a.m. Plans tend to get a little fickle at times, and sure enough, the day began in limbo. Lilly’s link to print her ticket was broken. After waiting for awhile, she decided not to come and I trekked down to Camden.
When I pulled up around 2:15 p.m., I could hear Dawes playing, “Love is All I Am.” Dawes kept unexpectedly making their way to my ears at Bonnaroo, and I’ve been listening to them since. They’re a punch of rock and a splash of folk sprinkled with pleasant harmonies. Check out their myspace here.
I hurried inside the venue and ran down the hill to the main stage. (There were three stages-one was the kid’s stage. The main stage was set against the Delaware River with downtown Philly’s buildings sprouting out.)
I got there in time for, “When my time comes,” Dawes’ current hit. After partaking in some loud and cheerful singing with the people next to me, I took a look around. All down the hill people laid out blankets and chairs. Bleachers also lined the top of the hill.
With the city, water, and handful of trees peeking out in the background, the scenery made for one nice venue. There was definitely a big crowd, but it wasn’t too crowded and judging from the people I just met during Dawes set, people were friendly and willing to talk music. (The way music festival fans should be 🙂 We discussed Edward Sharpe and the magical experience we were all in for.)
After that song I met up with my friends, Bob and PJ. We finished watching Dawes then relaxed under a tree while The Holmes Brothers played.
Once they were finished, we moved closer to the stage for These United States.
I caught one of their Daytrotter sessions and was psyched to see them. Check out one of their sessions here.
While the crowd lounged on the grass/blankets, the five-piece band began their story-telling through music. When the lead singer, Jesse Elliott talks, he has a hush, low, sexy voice that reminds me of Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday and reminded PJ of Fabrizio Moretti from The Strokes. Sidenote: I adore anyone who reminds me of Adam.
As we got up to get a good spot for Edward Sharpe, they started playing my favorite song, First Sight. Check out the video. P.S. the lyrics are amazing.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Anyone who’s been to an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show will look at you with a twinkle in their eye as a smile quickly approaches. Even though Edward Sharpe have songs featured on commercials and in trailers now, they’re still the same in-the-moment, child-like spirit, feel-good folk-rock-hippie-jam band they’ve always been. Don’t believe me? Check out their opening song:
Throughout the show the 10-piece took us on a journey of reconciliation, happiness, love, positive energy, whistling and confetti, lots of confetti. At one point, Alex, the frontman, (his name is not Edward Sharpe) said, “I just so happen to have this confetti in my back pocket” and threw it into the audience. Jade and Alex would randomly yell, “Namaste” and other small ditties about enjoying life, “Be here now.”
Alex’s voice has a haunting, eerie quality to it that matches the intensity in his face. Sometimes he looks completely lost, or like he’s gazing off into some infinite abyss that only he can see. Shimmering light speckled through the trees and stage banners projecting a happiness only a band like Edward Sharpe could awaken.
Alex lost his voice, but it wasn’t a problem. Jade filled in. Jade and her big, bad, soothing, shy voice. The previous times I’ve seen them, Jade has been shy on stage. This time, she seemed completely confident. I was so proud of her!
Another thing I noticed about this performance: Alex and Jade seemed much happier and comfortable with each other. (quick interjection: they used to date.) During ‘Up From Below’ Alex grabbed Jade’s hand while singing, “All the friends I treated like dirt” and looked at her so sincerely as if he was apologizing. I felt like they finally reconciled.
I honestly don’t even know if they were fighting but at their other performances (Coachella and Bonnaroo) they seemed to be on rough terms. Even though I don’t know them personally, they bring me so much joy and it made me happy to see them happy.
After their set we moved up in the crowd and waited for Dr. Dog.
While I enjoy listening to Dr. Dog in my car and on my iPod, the music just doesn’t compare to their live performances. After seeing them, I am a fully converted fan; I want to see them again and again.
Their guitar thrashing and raw vocals blend together into a tasty rock smoothie that goes down tumbling but still leaves you screaming for more. And their energy on stage, awesome! At times their guitars took control of the guitarists, pulling them towards each other. The crowd went wild with every chord.
Check out a quick blurb from their encore:
1. Shadow People
3. I Only Wear Blue
4. The Beach
5. The Breeze
7. Hang On
8. Mirror Mirror
10. The Old Days
11. The Way The Lazy Do
12. Shame, Shame
13. The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
We left after their set.
Small slurp of happiness from the day: On the walk to the car we saw Christian, the guitarist from Edward Sharpe. We walked right by him but didn’t say anything because he was engaged in conversation. A couple minutes later he started walking in our direction. I jumped up and walked over to him.
“You were awesome, man! Great show!” His face lit up with appreciation. We went to shake hands but it quickly turned into a hug.
Even though I got lost on the way home (by simply following signs for the NJ Turnpike) the energy and happiness from the festival ran through me, and I felt like nothing could shake me. While driving I turned on wxpn to hear the rest of the festival: the performance by Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I was definitely moving and grooving in my car. I heard bits of, “I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland, pretty mamma come and take me by the hand” and “Maggie’s Farm” by Bob Dylan. I could feel all their big ol’ soulful sound busting through my speakers.
After that I popped in one of my Sim Redmond Band albums and let the sweet, summer breeze and sounds of Sim’s voice guide me home. It turned out to be a great day.