18 Reasons to Go to the XPoNential Music Festival This Week

By Jeffrey Barg and Laura Boyce
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Jul. 17, 2012

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JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

Odd that some of the region’s biggest summer festivals (not including some Jay-Z Parkway thing) all fall on the same weekends. For the two full-weekend bonanzas starting Friday and aimed at largely the same audience—WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival in Camden and the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del.—Jersey wins hands down.

There are a million reasons why. Here are just 18 of them.

1) Wilco (XPN) vs. Death Cab for Cutie (Firefly). Ben Gibbard might bring the cute tattooed girls around, but Death Cab never wrote Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , as close to indie rock’s Sgt. Pepper’s as we’ll ever hear.

2) The Lumineers (XPN) vs. Walk the Moon (Firefly). We really like Walk the Moon’s bouncy, carefree pop, but the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” is easier to remember and sing along to than WTM’s still really delightful “Anna Sun.” The “Anna Sun” video is arguably best of the year, but you don’t watch music videos at summer festivals.

3) The price. The $55 member three-day pass for XPN is still cheaper than the cheapest one-day pass for Firefly. And with the Firefly three-day passes long ago sold out, XPN costs way less any way you slice it.

4) Counting Crows (XPN) vs. Wallflowers (Firefly). These two were joined at the hip from “6th Avenue Heartache.” But for those who like their ’90s alt-pop delivered by someone who flat-out refuses to sing his original lyrics or melody—thereby completely thwarting annoying sing-alongs—Counting Crows take it. Also, Adam Duritz’s hair still looks like a pineapple, and that’s really fun.

5) The Hold Steady (XPN) vs. The Black Keys (Firefly). Both are about as pure, back-to-basics rock ’n’ roll as these festivals get, but only Hold Steady concerts feel as religious as church—without all the God bothering, mostly.

6) War on Drugs (XPN) vs. Cold War Kids (Firefly). The War on Drugs heated up just as the Cold War was dying down, and not like Obama’s doing anything to end the War on Drugs anytime soon. Plus, a civil battle between War on Drugs and Work Drugs (XPN) would be a nice side-stage match.

7) Kaki King (XPN) vs. Jack White (Firefly). Guitar virtuoso who’s recognized by music snobs to be one of the greatest living players of the instrument, or guitar virtuoso who’s recognized by music snobs to be one of the greatest living players of the instrument—and is also a chick?

8) JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound and J.D. Souther (XPN) vs. J. Roddy Walston and the Business (Firefly). JC and J.D. outnumber J. Roddy. Forget music; that’s just math.

9) The money. XPN is a nonprofit and regularly touted as one of the top public radio stations in the country. Firefly’s top two sponsors are Bud Light and Ketel One. Where should your dollars go?

10) Delta Rae (XPN) vs. The Felice Brothers (Firefly). The sibling superpower of Ian, Eric and Brittany Hölljes against Ian, James and Simone Felice. Sounds like an even matchup, right? Sorry, Simone left the band in 2009. Math wins again.

11) John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders (XPN) vs. John Legend (Firefly). The latter is both a literal and figurative Legend. (OK, not really literal; his last name actually is Stephens—he changed it after graduating from Penn.) Harding’s Cabinet is an interdisciplinary vaudeville showcase that features multiple legends, including Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller, writer Rick Moody, comedian Eugene Mirman and, of course, Harding himself. None of these Cabineteers, as they’re called, is as smooth as Legend, but the mixture should be bizarre and wonderful.

12) Dr. Dog (XPN) vs. Chiddy Bang (Firefly). Both are serious hometown pride, but Dr. Dog has been repping Philly harder and longer.

13) Ozomatli (XPN) vs. Mariachi El Bronx (Firefly). Los Angeles’ Ozomatli have a day named after them in the City of Angels. The Bronx, meanwhile, is gentrifying more by the day.

14) Lee Ranaldo Band (XPN) vs. Girl Talk (Firefly). Girl Talk prominently sampled Sonic Youth. Ranaldo is in Sonic Youth.

15) Rhett Miller & The Serial Lady Killers (XPN) vs. Matt Costa (Firefly). Miller’s joy-filled, sky-high Texas-chunk leg kicks or Costa’s sunshine California pop? Firefly already has a ton of other Californians (Bassnectar, Silversun Pickups, Young the Giant). Don’t mess with Texas.

16) Avett Brothers (XPN) vs. the Head and the Heart (Firefly). Both have gorgeous down-home harmonies. But the Avetts like to shout some, too.

17) Mike Doughty (XPN) vs. The Flaming Lips (Firefly). You might think the Soul Coughing frontman’s spoken word is weird—until you hear the Flaming Lips’ 1997 album Zaireeka: Four different CDs that you had to play all at the same time. Even in 1997, who had four CD players?

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Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. Anonymous said... on Jul 18, 2012 at 06:14AM

“Did XPN pay for this advertisement?”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jul 18, 2012 at 10:00AM

“Wilco, The Avett Brothers and Dr. Dog aren't even playing at the XPoNential Music Festival in Wiggins Park, they're playing next door at the Susquehanna Bank Center. Wilco is only included if you buy a 3-day XPN Festival pass. And with that, you only get a lawn seat!”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jul 18, 2012 at 10:48AM

“You can get a 3 day pass for dirt cheap compared to typical festival pricing. That gets you 3 days of great acts AND that includes Wilco, The Avett Brothers, and Dr. Dog?? It is all still part of the same festival, you just walk next door to see it. How can anyone be disappointed at that! Seriously, cool stuff happening this year. I dig it!

SBC lawn tickets are nothing to complain about either. You're on a lawn for the fest at Wiggins Park anyways. And who wants to be stuck in a seat? Lawn spots are the best to sprawl out and dance! The best times I've had for shows at SBC are lawn seats for sure.

Can't wait!”

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4. Gandolf said... on Jul 18, 2012 at 02:13PM

“Will Batchicken And The Flying Titties still be there?”

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5. Meg said... on Jul 18, 2012 at 02:24PM

“No, Batchicken And The Flying Titties have been cancelled after their drummer had a surfing accident.”

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6. cody fox said... on Jul 18, 2012 at 07:43PM

“This article is a joke. I would rather see The Killers than the entire Xponential Festival. I was actually interested to see the points made for this argument but was frustrated to see lame jokes and poor comparisons. Girl Talk is in a league of his own and you can't compare Jack White to any contemporary musician. Oh and the Wallflowers are playing at 4 on Friday, not Saturday/Sunday night whenever the Counting Crows are playing. This response sounds bitter because you two idiots probably got paid to write this garbage and it is an insult to the bands playing Firefly, who are more respected and talented. I'll see you in Delaware.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Jul 18, 2012 at 10:10PM

“the writers got free tickets from XPN. Firefly said they had to pay”

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8. jim said... on Jul 19, 2012 at 11:20AM

“Another great reason to go to the xpn fest is to see the best female singer songwriter, Kathleen Edwards. xpn s new format is terrible. Susquehanna Centers lawn is the worst place in the WORLD. yes in the WORLD. guess if like watching act on a screen then you will love it. and who wants to get up after getting settled for the day and schlep over to the worst place in the WORLD see a screen?

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9. Anonymous said... on Jul 19, 2012 at 12:38PM

“Who did XPN pay for this piece of fluff? XPN touts themselves as a non-profit, but really the profits go to line the pockets of Roger LaMay and the management there who take home 6 figure paychecks. Their festival lineup was so poor this year that they had to join-up with LiveNation (most certainly a for profit company) or rather latch on to shows that had already been booked at the Susquehanna Bank Center.”

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10. DDOC said... on Jul 19, 2012 at 12:45PM

“Anything for an argument... Lovely. Go where you want, pay what they'll have you pay, and hear what you feel like hearing. On a beautiful day (and not 98 degrees) a lawn seat is as good as any. If you need to be in the front row, then you're at the wrong venue. XPN can be annoying sometimes, sure, who isn't, but they've got more good stuff behind what they're all about; it's coming from a really good place. They've worked to have a great lineup this year - and if you're a supporting member, paying 45-55 for a 3-day weekend full of good shows - wow, that's an awesome deal, considering a single good show can ring you up for more than that these days... I'd definitely rather support XPN than Bud Light, hands down, and I'm all about the great deal. In total admittance, I will be missing Jack Whtie, as well as Head and the Heart. That said, I'll be at XPN FEST. Have a great weekend wherever you go. Ho ho ho. :)”

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11. Anonymous said... on Jul 19, 2012 at 12:47PM

“For a 3 day pass I paid less than a lawn seat to Wilco and I get them and two extra days of music for the same price. And since you walk through Wiggins Park to get to SBC from the Ferry I don't see what the big deal about schlepping between venues is.
And since it is the PHILLY Weekly did you really expect them to recommend going to Dover? Looking forward to an annual great festival of music.”

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