Let Me Entertain You: XPoNential Music Festival 2010 Part 3

First there was Part 1, then Part 2, and now this…

What makes the XPoNential Festival both great to experience and difficult to plan around is the fact that no one day features the bulk of the hottest performers.  That way, you’re just about required to attend each day if you want to catch all of the most notable bands on that year’s bill.  Naturally, this works out quite handsomely for the folks at XPN, not to mention those of us who were going to go to all three days no matter what.  After a challenging and often frustrating afternoon with a failing sound system at the Kids Corner stage (special thanks again to the fine fellas of Recess Monkey for letting us use their equipment), I managed to catch three of Sunday’s best acts.  Even though I’d already seen each of the following bands in concert, it was still a treat to see them all in one place over the span of a few hours.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

The most buzzed-about band for Sunday (if not the whole festival) was Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.  The neo-hippie ensemble won the hearts of XPN’s listeners last year, particularly with their song “Home,” which was named the listeners’ #1 song of 2009.  Though I find the group’s music to be plenty enjoyable, I’m still a little skeptical about the genuineness of the collective’s rustic styling.  After all, leader Alex Ebert also happens to front the dance-punk group Ima Robot.  His free-spirited mysticism and the carefree attitudes of his numerous is all painfully contrived, but damn if the crowd didn’t eat it all up.  Performing songs from their album, Up From Below, Ebert and the band undoubtedly met or exceeded the expectations of their audience.  The bouncy “Janglin” and Beatles-referencing “40 Day Dream” were standouts of their rather brief performance (Ebert’s voice sounded completely shot, even during the opening number).  I might remain a naysayer, but there’s no getting around that this band is doing something very right, even if I don’t quite get it.

Dr. Dog

I spent a good lot of the festival trying to figure out how many times I’ve seen Dr. Dog in concert.  I think I settled on six or seven, including their Sunday performance.  Regardless of how often I see them, the Philly heroes always put on a fresh and thrilling show.  Naturally, their set at this year’s festival featured a good number of songs from their great new album, Shame, Shame.  These selections included “Stranger,” “Shadow People” and my favorite of the new songs, “I Only Wear Blue.”  Their late afternoon performance time meant that the sun was blazing from behind the stage.  Only guitarist Frank McElroy‘s towering figure blocked out the light enough to allow for a decent picture, and it’s rare that he’s the featured member in a review like this, so what the heck?  Including songs from older releases such as Easy Beat and We All Belong, Dr. Dog played with the aloof confidence of a house band.  If you think about it, that’s just what they’ve become: a group that’s at once familiar and incapable of growing tired.

Earl Greyhound

Last time I saw the Brooklyn trio, they were out-heavying The Heavy back in January.  On Sunday, Earl Greyhound was the final act on the Marina stage, and they brought that stage to a roaring close.  With plenty of material from their tremendous new album, Suspicious Package, the group tore through each riff- and searing guitar solo-driven tune.  Despite their proggy adventures, Earl Greyhound retain a manageable pop sensibility on songs like “Sea Of Japan” and Y-Rock favorite “Ghost And The Witness.”  Each member is an attention-grabber, all for different reasons: the shirtless (and cleanshaven) Matt Whyte is a monster on the guitar, photogenic bassist Kamara Thomas brings the high art and stoic drummer Ricc Sheridan is an octopus behind his massive kit.  I daresay that many of the festival-goers were not suitably prepared for Earl Greyhound’s sonic assault, which caused us fans to revel even more in the unbridled grit of their performance.

Don’t forget that you can head over to the festival’s online archives for a full rundown of the performances, as well as on-demand audio from each of the bands.

See you again next year!

Click HERE for my full Festival gallery!!

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~ by E. on July 22, 2010.

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