Photos by Adrianna Hilborn
Words by Adam Quinn
2013’S XPoNential Music Festival at Wiggins Park and Susquehanna Bank Center made history in many ways: the first ever sell-out crowd at Wiggins Park, record-setting rains drenched the festival on Sunday, and a sell-out crowd filled the SBC for Saturday’s show. Bigger, better and wetter is the only way to sum up the 2013 XPoNential festival. Over three days we saw more music, more friends, more rain, and bigger acts than we’ve ever seen before at XPonential.
The XPoNential fest certainly has come a long way in it’s 20 years. And in all this time a few key things keep the festival a must-go for each summer: the community feel, Wiggins Park, with the Philadelphia skyline as a backdrop, and consistently quality musical line-up. Mad props go out to XPN for all they do for music in this area. Love them or hate them, XPN consistently provides their members with an avenue to experience good, quality music.
We spend 362 days a year listening to XPN, but the majority of that listening happens in a box: our office, our cars, our homes. For three days a year, the real treat of XPoNential is getting to hang with the other folks who proudly sport the “I Heart XPN” pin. And this vibe does not extend just for the listeners, you can see it in the XPN staff too: they really dig this festival. Our own Randy B has dubbed it the “XPN Company Picnic” (We’d like to suggest that for a sub-title in the 2014 Festival announcement).
Perhaps the most endearing quality about Wiggins park is stage accessibility and proximity. Most major festivals require you to hike 45 minutes between stages. No festival goer – inebriated or not – wants to make the crucial decision to hang at one stage or venture all over creation to string together the perfect live music experience.
At Wiggins you don’t have to decide. If you want to sit one place, you can hang on the path behind the bleachers to see and hear everything. If you need some exercise, you can make the short trek from stage to stage. No matter how you slice it, there is no challenge in catching all the music at XPoNential. We took full advantage of this to bring you a full photo recap of the weekend below – well, that is until we had had to retreat to higher ground as Camden flooded.
The biggest story of any festival are always the acts. David Dye’s introduction of the Lumineers on saturday encapsulates what XPoNetial and XPN have become:
“This band played the Marina stage last year and now they are playing to a sold-out Susquehanna Bank Center. I give you the Lumineers…!”
From side-stage to main-stage, in one year – a sell out, too! Bigger and better? You betcha’ this was one of the biggest years for XPoNential to date ( I don’t have numbers to back this claim, just first-hand experience). Had it not been for Sunday’s deluge, the crowd at SBC may have argueablly been bigger and more raucous than the night before. Not to draw anything away from the Lumineers, but Sundays line-up of Ryan Bingham, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, and Dylan contained more chops. Except for Dylan, Sunday’s line-up also included much more rocking.
So as XPoNential continues to grow, the big question remains: what will happen to the community? After a day of local vendors (notably, a majority of solar and green energy vendors graced Wiggins this year), XPN members, and cheaper beers, entering the corporate world of SBC did feel quite strange. Take 7,000 people who share the common love for XPN and integrated them into a crowd of 18,000 who only know the chorus to “Ho Hum,” charge double for beers, and eliminate any proximity to the stage, and you start to create some dissonance. However – ignoring new crowd of people, SBC concessions, and newly established distance from the stage – the partnership XPN has forged with Live Nation has changed the game for XPN to be able to compete with other summer festivals.
This year’s XPoNential shows a glimmering of what the festival could become. Future years will reveal just how big and competitive XPoNetial can become on the festival scene. Either way, it’s a win-win for XPN’s members and Philadelphia-proper. Let’s get ready to rock, Philadelphia.
Friday at XPoNential
With non-stop music for three days, there were plenty of great bands to catch. A crowd favorite was the percussive Red Baraat, bringing Indian rhythms mixed with New Orleans jazz on Friday night. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros closed out Friday night with an extra long set.
Saturday at XPoNential
Saturday was another solid lineup with mellow Lord Huron, funky legend Dr. John, and the impressive musicianship of the John Butler Trio. Saturday night at SBC featured Dr. Dog and The Lumineers.
Sunday at XPoNential
Sunday held 2 fun sets with The Kopecky Family Band, with them filling in at the last minute for another artist that was ill. The skies opened up with torrential rains Sunday afternoon that cut Justin Townes Earl’s set short and forced the cancellation of Philly favorite Dawes. But for those that braved conditions at SBC for Ryan Bingham, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, and Bob Dylan, the night ended on a high note.