#XPNFest on Film: 35mm of scenes from our weekend on the Camden Waterfront

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photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If you see me photographing a concert, you most likely will see me with one of WXPN’s digital cameras in hand. But depending on the gig, and depending on my mood, if you look closely you might spot something else; an old Pentax 35mm, or a Yashica twin-lens 120 camera. Or a Holga if I’m feeling particularly daring.

I went to school for photography when shooting on film was still the dominant thing — it was on its way out, for sure, but it was still being taught — and my initial outlook on how to shoot photos was shaped by the process of taking 24 or 36 frames and not knowing for anywhere from a few hours to a few days what any of them look like.

Lately, it’s been a fun way for me to document the music festivals I cover here at The Key — the sun-speckled Roots Picnic, or the earthy-toned Firefly Festival. Obviously I shoot digital in tandem, which allows me to gather as many images as I need and have as much control over all the parameters that go into those images; basically it guarantees me something serviceable (and immediate) for our web and social media coverage.

But there’s something to be said for surrendering much of that control to limitations and chance; taking photos as scenes unfold to you, to taking just one or two shots per scene (because you only have so much film), to refrain from getting caught up in fussy details and seeing what turns out. This year at the XPoNential Music Festival, I brought two cameras with me — a Ricoh SLR, an Argus rangefinder — and shot a roll of color film and a roll of black and white. Here’s what happened.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

From our Friday night headlining concert; Sylvan Esso easily had one of the best light shows XPNFest has ever seen.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

I spotted these Sturgill Simpson megafans wearing matching attire to Wiggins Park for day two of XPNFest. Bonus points if you can tell me (without Googling) what classic rock t-shirt this is an homage to.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The high-energy Femi Kuti and the Positive Force bring Afrobeat rhythms and socially conscious mantras to the River Stage. Also, I discover my new favorite perch from which to shoot sidestage photos.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s not #XPNFest until longtime friend of the station Hunter shows up with his shirt off.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

An acoustic guitar of XPNFest autographs; this will be auctioned off during our winter fundraiser next year.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The most winning performance of the weekend, hands down, went to New Orleans party rockers Tank and the Bangas. Here they are shortly after their Kendrick Lamar cover, shortly before their OutKast cover, at a moment of realtive stillness but nonetheless ready to pounce.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Love this image for so many reasons; the XPNFest-er making the gotcha pose, the afternoon sun casting long shadows on the promenade, and the way those shadows mirror F____r J__n M___y’s favorite battleship.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Marina Stage crowd enjoying an afternoon set by Sunflower Bean.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cumming turns up the energy on the aforementioned Marina Stage crowd, getting them on their feet and pumping their fists to “Crisis Fest.”

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Phoebe Bridgers and her band playing a wonderful midday set on Sunday.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Not only did Bridgers have most of the front row singing along, she also had XPN Morning Show host Kristen Kurtis, photographer Rachel Del Sordo and production intern Sam Kesler raising their voices from backstage during “Motion Sickness.”

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Team River Stage is also hooked on Phoebe Bridgers’ set.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

At left, World Cafe contributing host Stephen Kallao enjoys his first XPNFest. Not sure how many XPNFests Eric Schuman is up to at this point, but I’m going to guess it’s in the upper 20s.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Hip-hop / R&B locals &More got the show moving on the Marina Stage Saturday afternoon, winning the crowd over with intoxicating melodies and endless chemistry.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Sunday was the most attended day at Wiggins Park this year, and here we see seating (and walking) space is at a premium on the pathway between the river stage and marina stage.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Some views from my commute; here’s the point where the PATCo train emerges on the Ben Franklin Bridge and you can see both sides of the Delaware Waterfront. Saturday was evidently a grey-er day than I remember.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Stepping off at the City Hall station, I am greeted by an expanse of red, white, blue and green.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Spotted in the XPN Command Center in the Camden Children’s Garden; I did not spot any actual XPN tags, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Fun fact: there is a somewhat goofy bobblehead-esque sculpture of Edgar Allen Poe in the Camden Children’s Garden, with illustrations of some of his poems and stories on his suit lapels. Kind of demented, kind of awesome.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Much respect to the people who are first in line at the Wiggins Park gate every day.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The Blind Boys of Alabama are led onstage for their Sunday evening performance as the sun sets over the Delaware River.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

I’m not 100% sure what’s going on in this photo but i kind of love it.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

From the production tent; blogging intern Shannon Vo chills with all-around XPNFest helper person Avi Warren.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Talia Schlanger, Jared Styles, Mike Vasilikos and Max Talbot (uh, I mean Zach Maupin) wonder where the heck all the people went. (Hint: they went to watch Darlingside.)

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Back where we started, in B&W form.

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

And a good old #XPoNentialSunset to close out the set. See you at the festival next summer, friends!

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