Let Me Entertain You: XPoNential Music Festival 2010 Part 2

(don’t forget about Part 1!!)

Just like last year and the year before, I spent most of my time at the festival in the Kids Corner garden.  More specifically, I was the sound engineer for the Kids Corner stage, where eclectic acts for families performed during the day on Saturday and Sunday.  As such, I only got to see the later performances on the main stages.  Luckily, one of those performances was from the one band I had been looking forward to seeing more than any other this year.

Yo La Tengo

When this year’s festival lineup was first announced a few months ago, Yo La Tengo were not yet part of the weekend.  The legendary trio were added when tickets went on sale to the general public, and it was this addition that got me quite excited.  Up until then, I was plenty excited for the festival, but I perked up at the notion of seeing Yo La Tengo in such an intimate setting (even for a summer event, the festival is a rather manageable size).  The group ran through a number of tunes from last year’s Popular Songs, including James McNew‘s “Nothing To Hide” and the lurching “Here To Fall,” but it was the latter half of their set that contained one of the most memorable moments of the festival.  The band invited the Sun Ra Arkestra‘s horn section to the stage to back them up on “Perodically Double Or Triple,” also from Popular Songs, and the sequin-robed sidemen remained for the rest of the set.  The group’s rendition of The Beach Boys‘ “Little Honda” started off innocently enough, just as it does on 1997’s I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, before turning into a punishing noise experiment that ended with Ira Kaplan nearly destroying his guitar.  Naturally, the group was called back for an encore, where Georgia Hubley presented a delicate version of Sun Ra‘s “Dreaming.”  That dynamism is what makes Yo La Tengo such a great band, and what made them my unrivaled highlight for this year’s festival.

Ben Vaughn

Ben Vaughn is much more than a musician.  He’s also a home producer, radio show host and music enthusiast.  All of this comes through in his music career, which now spans a few decades.  Well-influenced by classic pop, blues and R&B, Vaughn and his band played a delightful dusk set on Saturday.  Ben’s music is quite diverse, and his performance showed off his ever-changing tastes more than anything else.  Rockin’ favorites like “Growin’ A Beard” and “I Dig Your Wig” were plentiful, as were more introverted numbers like “Too Sensitive For This World.”  A more recent song, “Hey Romeo,” was introduced as being a current dance hit in Italy, despite the New Orleans flavor of Ben’s original.  Vaughn played through all of these with the meticulousness of a picky producer and the looseness of a seasoned pro.  It was just the kind of set that the crowd needed to ease them into the evening.

The Felice Brothers

Saturday ended on an unusual note with The Felice Brothers.  Had you asked me who would likely close the festival’s second day, I’d have guessed the preceding performer, Roseanne Cash.  Regardless, the Brothers brought their homespun roots-rock to a very receptive audience.  Their set featured some of their best known songs from their three wide-release albums, namely “Run Chicken Run,” “Whiskey In My Whiskey,” and “Greatest Show On Earth.”  During their signature tune, “Frankie’s Gun!,” leader Ian Felice mixed up some of the lyrics.  All was forgiven, of course, and the band pressed on with the crowd’s support right behind them.  Though the band has completely nailed the sound of The Band‘s peak days, they have yet to deliver their career-defining material.  Still, it’s great to see a young band met with the reception usually reserved for long-established superstars.

Sunday’s acts to come!!

Click HERE for my full Festival gallery!!

~ by E. on July 21, 2010.

One Response to “Let Me Entertain You: XPoNential Music Festival 2010 Part 2”

  1. Nice review Eric! That YLT performance was truly epic..I am still reeling from it. Sorry I missed the Felice Bros Saturday night — any song called “Whiskey in my whiskey” sounds ok to me!!

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