XPoNential Music Festival 2012: Delta Spirit, We Are Augustines and Counting Crows
For anyone who might be thinking that a festival in Camden is a bad idea, think again. XPN’s annual XPoNential Music Festival proves that solid music needs no tropical beach or remote field to promote having an awesome time.
With the Susquehanna Bank Center as the main stage, the surrounding East-Delaware River coast transformed into an indie-lover’s paradise – music in the air, t-shirts of bands you never heard of and beach balls. After asking around on Sunday about the experience we were told that The Hold Steady and The Lumineers paced Friday’s events while Good Old War, Dr. Dog and Wilco created a party scene on Saturday. So what about Sunday’s closers?
Delta Spirit‘s folk-pop took the main stage around 6:30 at the Susquehanna Bank Center. With the Willie Nelson-like vocals of Matthew Vasquez singing the fraught lyrics of life experience for someone 30 years his senior on occasion or acting the innocent friend, the group teems with talents and symmetry around him. Although Delta Spirit can mix a few tracks in that come across as alt-rock or pop, the folk-rock from their most recent album (self-titled) came through the heaviest.
For lawn dwellers, this down-home feel didn’t quite reach the 300+ feet away, but for those in the pit or around the stage, the heavy bass track such as “White Table” shook a familiar, intimate mark. Vasquez’ lyrics weren’t drown out up close by the bass. Watching and hearing the group dynamic that shifted drum rapping to vocal harmonizing to a guitar solo is the sort of thing you pay an extra $10 for.
Before long, we left the close quarters of Delta Spirit’s inner sanctum and headed towards the river and The Key stage for We Are Augustines.
We Are Augustines
We Are Augustines arose out of the fall of Pela, which produced 2007′s Anytown Graffiti. MUF was suppose to cover Pela in Philadelphia before lead Billy McCarthy cut open his hand at a show and cancelled the rest of their tour, which was the last chance we would have to see the band.
Now 2012 and McCarthy leads We Are Augustines. With a cigarette in hand and a mischievous smirk on his face, he arrived on stage looking like a kid who just robbed the candy store. In his safari hat he began his somewhat raspy, scheming lyrics while playing an amplified acoustic guitar at the front of the stage.
Many of the tracks played came from Rise Ye Sunken Ships, which released last Summer. After several songs, McCarthy stood up and switched to an electric specific guitar, and played some of the livelier tracks from the album, including “Juarez” and “Chapel Song.” While vocal dominate many of the acoustic tracks, the keyboard and drums eased into a different, less monotonous style.
The track “Philadelphia (The City of Brotherly Love)” catered to the native crowd as it spanned an extra 3+ minutes beyond its normal 4-minute length before the group shifted to a new track. At this point we moved from the front of the stage at The Key to the photography pit of the SBC.
Standing 10 feet in front of Adam Duritz is a bit intimidating. He’s the man behind a band that arrived on the music scene 20+ years ago and someone whom people can assimilate the band to. Besides that, he’s got a thick set of dreads and rarely smiles. At the tail end of Sunday’s show and as the Sun’s light set below the horizon, Counting Crows brought everyone together for one last hurrah for the XPoNential Music Festival.
On stage Duritz and Counting Crows are experts of their profession. Besides the lights that surrounded them, the seven-man band move around the stage and shared the limelight, whether it was through Duritz stepped back for a solo from David Bryson or a share set of vocals with Dan Vickrey.
Almost every show from the group brings something a little different than the previous one as Duritz tends to purposely cross-change lyrics in a song or the group extends a short song and jams out on stage. If you were wondering whether Counting Crows is still worth seeing, despite being over a decade removed from their Hard Candy album, they are. They didn’t play the SBC with a light show or with theatrics, just organized songs from a large group.
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