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XPN Fest Recap: Lo Moon brings expansive epics to the River Stage

Lo Moon | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Although Lo Moon‘s debut self-titled album was only released earlier this year, the band nonetheless drew an enthused crowd to watch them rock the #XPNFest River Stage Sunday afternoon. No one seemed to mind the heat and afternoon sun beating down on them as the crowd filled up the area. The LA based band showed their love for Philadelphia and XPN, and they gave the audience a great show with their beautifully ambient sound. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Devon Gilfillian returns home with new songs and a soulful groove

Devon Gilfillian | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com

For suburban Philadelphia native Devon Gilfillian, today’s set on the #XPNFest Marina Stage was a homecoming show of sorts, and the songwriter quickly got a groove going to celebrate. Now based in Nashville, Gilfillian’s chilled-out, bluesy tunes fit well in any region, especially during a breezy afternoon on the waterfront. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Harmony Woods starts off Sunday with a sulblime set of sensitive rock

Harmony Woods | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

If Sofia Verbilla was nervous stepping outside of the zone of dimly lit basements to play a massive festival, it didn’t show. Harmony Woods was effortlessly able to recreate the intimate vibe of jamming at a house show. Pink-haired and cat-eyed, Verbilla expressed gratitude and humility to be playing on the River Stage. “My dad used to take me to this festival as a kid, so playing it is so unreal.” Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: The War on Drugs and Sturgill Simpson deliver guitar jams of different sorts at BB&T

The War on Drugs | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

While the night one headliners at #XPNFest were cerebral, experimental and beat-oriented, night two shifted the focus to a rock festival classic: the guitar.

Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs is a master of instrumental tone and texture, of soundscaping — as well as atmospheric lead licks that transport the band and the crowd to the stratosphere. Sturgill Simpson is more down and dirty, an adherent of country / blues riff rock tradition, but played louder and faster than most of his peers (and heroes). Together, they treated the BB&T Pavilion crowd to expansive jams, but of two very different sorts.

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XPN Fest Recap: Margo Price kicks out country jams to close out the River Stage Saturday

Margo Price | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com

If you couldn’t tell by the band’s getup, Margo Price and company were the country act of the 2018 XPoNential Music Festival. Well, in Wiggins Park at least. More to come on Sturgill Simpson’s BB&T outing later today. But from Price’s own two tone denim jumper and sunkissed blonde hair to her bandmate’s Neil Young & Crazy Horse t-shirt, and more denim on stage than there was in the crowd, it was apparent from the moment the band stepped on stage that the River Stage fans were in for an early-evening Country affair. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Sunflower Bean burns it down on the Marina Stage

Sunflower Bean | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Brooklyn natives and WXPN regulars Sunflower Bean shared more of their Twentytwo in Blue record with the day two crowd as the sun beat down on the Marina Stage. To open the show, they played the fan favorite “Burn It,” and front woman Julia Cumming’s signature alto-toned vocals welcomed the crowd back to Twentytwo. Interspersed with quick drum fills and lead bass tones, the band was tighter than ever. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force play a commanding, socially conscious set

Femi Kuti and the Positive Force | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Thunderous baselines and massive percussion work flooded the River Stage at the beginning of Femi Kuti‘s set. Five members took to the stage to start, then grew to 12 before Kuti himself stepped up to helm the Hammond keyboard, joining in on the tremendous instrumental intro.

The eldest son of famed Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti played a role in each section of his backing band, the Positive Force, joining backup vocalists to sing and dance, donning the sax to join in the brass section, and playing the Hammond. Kuti would bounce around the stage frantically, spinning in a dizzying manner while singing “Nothing to Show For It,” and pointing and commanding the band throughout the set. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Courtney Marie Andrews brings a dose of Kindness to the Marina Stage

Courtney Marie Andrews | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com

“Alright, I have a lot of feelings,” said someone in the crowd behind me at Courtney Marie Andrews‘ Marina Stage set as the musician finished her last song. With music rooted in classic Americana with a tinge of rock and roll shining through at times, Andrews isn’t your typical country singer. As she powered through today’s seven-song set, she gave the crowd a glimpse into the place of genuine kindness her earnest songwriting comes from. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Mondo Cozmo reps Embiid while playing stadium anthems on the River Stage

Mondo Cozmo | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com

Bucks County-bred, Los Angeles-based Mondo Cozmo took the River Stage full of gratitude as frontman Joshua Ostrander reflected on how he’s been sending music to WXPN host Helen Leicht since he was a kid, and now here he is. They kicked off their set with “Come With Me,” as well as a quick reveal of Ostrander’s Embiid basketball jersey. Do we love him or do we love him?

Following the release of Your Motherfucker, of which Leicht joked that 88.5 can’t play the title track on the radio, the band played a special censored rendition just for our crowd. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Jupiter & Okwess make their Philly-area debut all the way from the Congo, and the crowd goes wild

Jupiter and Okwess | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

For their first time in the Philadelphia area, Jupiter & Okwess performed a spectacularly high energy set at the River Stage for day two of #XPNFest.

Born in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jupiter Bokondi emerged into Africa’s rhythmic music scene in the 1970’s in the form of a wedding and funeral performer. After moving to Berlin for the duration of his adolescence, he delved into the psych pop scene and formed groups that incorporated his country’s musical styling of percussive beats and erratic yet unifying vocals. After years of musical experimentation, appreciation for the European soundscape, and the unending ties to Africa, Jupiter & Okwess emerged.

They took the XPNFest Marina Stage decked out in the most fun, bright clothes, and the biggest smiles on all their faces. Continue reading →