Philly punk party Rockers! returns to showcase diversity in a multisensory weekend festival

Rockers! founder Camae Defstar, left, performs at an event in 2011 | Photo via
Rockers! founder Camae Defstar, left, performs at an event in 2011 | Photo by D1L0 via

Few events can sustain themselves for periods of over 10 years. Few shows offer such diversity in terms of people, genres, and art. That’s what makes Rockers! so unique; it has both.

A long-running music and art showcase that promotes diversity, Rockers! began because of a desire to see more bands of color playing punk shows.

Camae Defstar is one of the founding organizers of Rockers! and books almost all of the shows. Defstar started Rockers! around 2005 with her friend and band member, Rebecca Roe.

Growing up, Defstar didn’t see people of color in punk music. They didn’t receive recognition. She felt like she was the only one into the punk scene. She says Rockers! showcases bands who have something to say and don’t fit the traditional mold of their respective genres.

“We wanted our band, the Mighty Paradocs to play. We didn’t know too much about booking, so we said ‘Hey let’s book an event with bands we like and want to play with.”

Rockers began at the now-defunct venue Aqua Lounge that was located near Front and Girard Streets. The series then moved to Tritone on South Street, where it grew and created a community.

“There [at Tritone] we started to have a community of artists that were trying to play but didn’t have the access or connections to do so. That’s how Rockers started getting steam,” said Defstar.

Tritone was the host location of Rockers until the venue closed in 2012. During that year, Kung Fu Necktie became the frequent site of Rockers.

Joe Jordan, right, performs at a Rockers show at Kung Fu Necktie | photo by D1L0 via

Joe Jordan, former Mighty Paradocs drummer, has been a part of Rockers since its inception. Now, he creates music under the name the Joe Jordan Experiment. He still is a “regular” at the shows as a performer and spectator. He said Rockers gave him a sense of community.

“It’s like a home for a lot of us bands,” Jordan said. “I’d liken it to CBGB’s during its punk heyday. No fighting, just high-energy excitement. Usually people of color. [but] it’s all-inclusive. People of colors… any color…white, black, red. It’s about unity,” he said. Continue reading →


Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Hold Steady and more top the XPoNential Music Festival lineup

Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via
Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via

Dueling acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, eclectic New Orleans folk-blues combo Hurray for the Riff Raff, and stalwart rock n’ rollers The Hold Steady are just some of the 25 artists announced today in the full lineup of this year’s edition of the XPoNential Music Festival.

These acts will play the two stages in Wiggins Park from July 25th to July 27th of this year, alongside the festival’s headlining concerts at Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis and Dawes (July 26th) and Beck, Band of Horses and The Districts (July 27th).

Hurray for the Riff Raff | Photo by Kate McCann |
Photo by Kate McCann |

The Wiggins Park bill is filled with WXPN favorites, like alt-country heroes Old 97s, Jersey singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins and Diego Garcia, all of whom are return-XPNFest-ers.

There is also an assortment of up-and-coming names like countrified Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose (featured on World Cafe’s Sense of Place: Nashville series); Bear’s Den, a UK rock trio with a flair for drama (they made a splash at the March Edition of the Communion Club Night at Underground Arts), the jazzy / folky vocal combo Lake Street Dive and the art-pop powerhouse Lucius, (who knocked our socks off at Free at Noon late last year.)

Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish |
Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish |

The greater Philadelphia scene is nicely represented as well. Bigger names like avant-garde rockers Man Man (who leaked their appearance last week), punk rock troubadour Dave Hause and reinvented folklorists Marah will mix with emerging artists Commonwealth Choir, Our Griffins, Marian Hill, The Lawsuits, Ginger Coyle and Viv and the Revival.

And adding an even more eclectic scope to the lineup is a taste of zydeco from C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band and some Mississippi blues care of harmonica master James Cotton.

Three days passes for new and renewing WXPN members are available now here. Tickets for the general public go on sale on May 1st; as with previous years, three-day passes will include lawn admission to the Susquehanna Bank Center shows (seated tickets to those are on sale separately, here and here).

Below, listen to a Spotify playlist of the Wiggins Park lineup, and read the complete list of artists after the jump.

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Just Announced: Beck, Ryan Adams, Dawes and more headlining the XPoNential Music Festival

Beck | photo courtesy of the artist
Beck | photo courtesy of the artist

The first wave of this year’s XPoNential Music Festival acts has rolled in and it includes some big names.  Headlining the Saturday night portion of the festival over at the Susquehanna Bank Center is prolific alt / country singer Ryan Adams, indie rock singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis and L.A. staples Dawes, while the enigmatic and trailblazing Beck closes out the three-day event with Americana rockers Band of Horses and Lancaster-bred four-piece The Districts on Sunday night.

Photo by David Black
Ryan Adams | Photo by David Black

The annual summer highlight is happening July 25th through the 27th at Wiggins Park and the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ. Pre-sale reserved tickets for the SBC shows will be available to WXPN members on Wednesday, April 9th (members, check your email Wednesday morning for more details) and will then open up to the general public on Friday April 11th at noon.

XPoNential Music Festival 2014 3-Day Go-Everywhere passes, which include lawn seat admission for SBC concerts, will be released on Thursday, April 17th along with the full three-day lineup. Go here for tickets and info, check out music from the announced acts below and stay tuned for more updates.

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Conor Oberst releases an ode to the festival-goers with track “Governor’s Ball” from upcoming LP Upside Down Mountain

Conor Oberst | Photo by David McClister

Conor Oberst appears to be returning to his Omaha, Nebraska roots, with the recently announced country/ blue-grass inspired album Upside Down Mountain, set to be released on May 20 via Nonesuch Records.

Oberst has now uncloaked the second track from that album, titled “Governor’s Ball”: an upbeat number with climatic sax instrumentals that really bring the song to life, and vocals that are far less somber than anything we’ve come to know and love from Bright Eyes. Whether the song is a ploy to reach the hearts of the ever-expanding scene of festival-goers, or a true to life tale of a van-riding boy and “klonopin-eyed girl”, or both, I’m not sure; but the song sounds really good, and Oberst’s maturity as an artist moving between genres is certainly commendable.

Get tickets for when Conor Oberst plays Union Transfer on May 21 here, and listen to “Governor’s Ball” below. Check here for a full list of tour dates.