by Matt Kelchner
On the third and final day of the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru, things wrapped up without any outspoken artists, power outages or freak rainstorms. There was however, an eclectic lineup that ranged from country to afro-pop and everything in between. Whether it was the hard rocking local boys in The Districts or the living legend Mavis Staples, Sunday was the perfect way to wrap up another wonderful festival weekend put on by WXPN.
When we arrived, we rushed over to the River Stage just in time to catch The Districts getting ready to perform. After taking a few pictures side stage with program director Bruce Warren, they made their way onstage to rip an afternoon set that showed that they are more than comfortable on stages that large.
Two of the day’s best performances were found at the Marine Stage. After driving all the way from North Dakota just to be rained out the day before, David Wax Museum were not going to leave empty handed. They managed to get squeezed into a busy lineup and made their stay more than welcomed. Following them up and closing out the stage for the weekend were another Philly act, Low Cut Connie. Their energetic and intense mix of piano driven rock made for not only one of the top acts of day, but of the entire weekend.
In between the two was a woman needed no introduction, Mavis Staples, gracing the River Stage. Song after soulful song, her incredible voice filled the park grounds. With a ferry horn blowing midway through her set, she invited everyone to take a ride on it back to Philadelphia with her afterwards.
Rounding out the night on the River Stage and at Wiggins Park was Femi Kuti and his band the Positive Force. With a band that included a three-piece horn section, a number of dancers and one very adorable daughter, Kuti had the crowd dancing away as the sun began to set. We unfortunately had to leave early to catch the beginning of all of the action at BB&T Pavilion, but every song we couldn’t catch along the way.
The finish out the festival, WXPN backed a back-to-back-to-back trio of acts like no other. The beginning of the end started with the recently formed supergroup of Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs, aptly named case/lang/veirs. The group debuted earlier this year at WXPN’s NomCom event so it was only fitting that they come back around again.
To wrap up their co-headlining tour, Old Crow Medicine Show and Brandi Carlile decided to make the XPoNential Festival the culminating end. Song after song, including a couple assisted by Carlile, Old Crow Medicine Show had almost the entire lawn section dancing along in what could best be described as the country version of a mosh pit. When it came to her own performance, Carlile won the crowd over early with a cover of “Born To Run”. Her high energy set echoed throughout the amphitheater with roars and cheers after every tune.
Despite incredibly high temperatures and a few curveballs thrown at them, WXPN proved time and time again throughout the weekend just exactly why they are one of the leaders in our local scene. The XPoNential Festival brought in crowds of all kinds for a weekend long celebration of great music, just like they have year after year. With another one in the books, here’s looking ahead to next year!