WXPN, a public radio station operated by the University of Pennsylvania, hosted a sold-out XPoNential Festival at Wiggins Park July 26-28 sponsored by Subaru and Xfinity.
On the first night of the festival, all eyes were on Wiggins Park, where artists such as Aaron & the Spell, Red Baraat, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros kicked off the festival.
The tone was set the next day, when the Fleeting Ends captivated the crowd with their catchy, upbeat tunes. The harmonies coming from their drummer, Matt Amadio, made their sound unique and memorable. Later, indie folk band The Last Bison covered “Midnight City” by M83, leaving the crowd covered in goosebumps. Wiggins Park closed up the day with John Butler Trio, who performed an amazing guitar piece, “Ocean.”
The party moved over to the Susquehanna Bank Center after John Butler Trio’s set, where WXPN set aside a special section in the lawn for Dr. Dog and The Lumineers to perform. On a smaller stage beside the Susquehanna Bank Center, WXPN hosted sets by Hey Marseilles and Polica. Dr. Dog pleased fans with favorites such as “Hang On” and attracted new fans with songs off the band’s upcoming album, “The Truth.” After a rather long intermission, The Lumineers took the stage. Almost every person in the crowd broke out into song when they performed songs such as “Charlie Boy,” “Ho Hey” and “Stubborn Love.” Fortunately for WXPN fans, The Lumineers made their way to the lawn halfway through their set for a few songs. Toward the end of the show, they seemed to be losing interest from the crowd, so frontman Wesley Schultz asked if everyone could put their cell phones away and just enjoy the moment. Although some fans claimed to have preferred Dr. Dog’s set over The Lumineers, I still think that their lyrics and live sound were an excellent closure to day 2 of WXPN’s XPoNential Festival.
Sunday opened up at Wiggins Park with local band DRGN KING. Unfortunately, Lianne La Havas had to cancel her appearance due to sickness. The crowd didn’t seem too disappointed when Kopecky Family Band offered to fill in for a second set later in the day. Around 3:30 p.m., it seemed as if the sky opened up over Justin Townes Earle’s set as it began to rain, leading to a cancellation of the Dawes headlining set. While WXPN staff members and security attempted to move thousands of people into shelter, festivalgoers decided it would be more fun to create mudslides inside the Wiggins Park festival grounds.
Although the rain soaked everyone from head to toe, it didn’t stop people from migrating over to AmericanaramA, a festival at the Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Bob Dylan, Wilco and My Morning Jacket. Before the show, I was warned that Dylan’s voice wasn’t the same as it used to be and that I might be shocked when he stepped onstage. But for 72, Dylan pulled off a spectacular performance, although I was a little disappointed when he played a majority of new songs off his latest LPs.
WXPN outdid itself by providing everyone with an excellent festival that brought back the old favorites of music but also introduced the area to fresh new music and artists. Although the festival is over for now, WXPN plans to bring the festival back with even better artists next year.