Here’s what Randy B and I had to say about the conclusion of this kick ass festival:
They save the best for last. Maybe it was Saturday’s heat that made me think this festival had a sub-par lineup. Whatever the reason, Sunday’s performances totally turned me around. Jukebox The Ghost, Ra Ra Riot, Carbon Leaf, Ben Folds and Shameika Copeland had fans dancing in the aisles. Hope was restored for the festival and live Rock and Roll in general. Now we at the TSI team can’t wait for the next festival – isn’t there one next week?
No strangers to TSI, this four piece pop rock band from York were the perfect band to kick off today’s incredible lineup. Playing songs from their latest release, On Our Own Together, my favorite was definitely the closer “Demons.” With a pretty decent turn out for the 12:30 set time, Kingsfoil surely gained some new fans. Are you one of them?
Next up on the River stage, Philly local Kuf Knotz threw it down. Gracing us with accompanying vocals from Dana Alexandra, this set was nothing short of entertaining. Keep your eyes peeled for Kuf, he’s everywhere!
The incredibly talented Matt Duke, who TSI interviewed after his set, reminded me how much I love singer/songwriters. His love for music is evident through every song, with my favorite being “Sex and Reruns.” Having seen him for the first time opening for Adele at WXPN’s Free at Noon concert a while back, it was awesome seeing him in a different setting here at XPoNential. I don’t know how anyone could walk away from this set NOT a fan.
Ra Ra Riot
I was so stoked to finally get the chance to see this NY-based rock band live. They were super fun to watch, especially since it was obvious how much fun they were having on stage. Maybe I’m biased, but I loved watching Alexandra and Rebecca rock out on the cello and violin, respectively. Girl power! Check out their latest EP, Too Dramatic, if you haven’t already.
This Oklahoma-based indie rock band sparked a friendly debate in the media tent: boring/weird versus talented/genius. As our discussion and their set continued, I found myself leaning towards the latter. With the latest release, Tamer Animals, only 2 months old, Other Lives has been perfecting their live set and preparing for their European/North American tour. Personally, I think it’s paying off. They sounded great, and left me intrigued for sure.
Originally from Texas myself, I was looking forward to some folky country tunes. Carll’s set instantly had me questioning which part of the country I was in, as well as why this was the first time I was hearing his music. Now I must go search for music to purchase. If you missed him this weekend, you can catch him at in Wilmington at World Cafe Live – The Queen 11/5.
Jukebox The Ghost
Each time I’ve seen this Philly-based indie rock trio play live, it’s been in a completely different setting. First, the basement of the First Unitarian Church, Second, Free at Noon performance at World Cafe Live, and now I can add an outdoor festival to the list. (Okay, I know the last two are both WXPN related shows, but they still count as different!) They have a way of sounding better each time too. What really set this set apart from the rest was when they played a new song, “Say When.” I can’t wait to hear more new material. Keep it up, guys.
Shemekia wins the attitude award for the weekend, making her set stand out from today’s other bands/artists. Not only did she bring her talented bluesy vocals, her set had a decent amount of humor as well – always a plus. She mentioned having tons of songs about ex-boyfriends, and wanting to sing every single one of them. All I can say is future ex-boyfriends, you have been warned.
Yet another band that I finally get to hear/see for the first time live. Having played with Stephen Kellog and the Sixers, I had a feeling that I would like Carbon Leaf, and I was right! I watched them rock the Marina stage from afar, with everyone around me enjoying their set just as much as I was. Add this band to the list of music in need of purchasing…
I was by far most looking forward to seeing Ben Folds this weekend. I’ve been a fan for a while now, but somehow have never made it to any of his shows. My friends were always telling me how awesome and talented he is, but I guess I was always busy when he came to town? Whatever the reason, I can now join in on future conversations on the matter. He played three songs off of my favorite album Rockin’ The Suburbs: “Annie Waits.” “Gone” and “Not the same.” He even did a fun cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” as raindrops literally started falling on the crowd’s heads. No offense to the talented females closing out the night, but Ben’s energy could have easily closed the entire festival.
Powerful women and a bit of that old time religion close out XPoNential!
Sunday evening’s final two performances featured strong sets by seasoned female artists. Former Philadelphia resident ,who now resides in Chicago, Susan Werner led her multi-instrumentalist trio through songs that featured a wide range of styles. Her excellent voice easily traversed the music landscapes of folk, blues and jazz. A standout tune was one that she introduced as her version of an old time gospel song – there seemed to be quite a bit of that going around this past weekend. The audience at the Marina stage caught the spirit and clapped along with the band. Her set was well received.
Over at the river stage, the faithful got their spots early for country rock icon Emmylou Harris. With her able back-up band, she kept the audience mesmerised for over an hour, performing tunes from the new record as well as older releases. She performed a Merle Haggard song that she said was the saddest song she had ever heard. Her performance of the venerable “Red Dirt Girl” was a special moment for me. She proved why she has been at the top of her game for forty years.