A quarter of a century is a long time to be running a music festival. That is some heavy staying power, especially when it continues to grow each year. The Exponential Music Festival, hosted by Philly’s WXPN, just celebrated their 25th anniversary with a weekend centered on Folk, Americana and Roots based song located on the riverfront in Camden. With two stages outside in Wiggins Park during the day and evening hours, the night time acts moved indoors to the BBT Pavilion. No festival would be complete though without some kick ass food trucks and exotic vendors selling their wares. Add in a few tents for activities and meet and greets and you have the makings of one fine weekend in store.
I attended in the opening Friday portion of the weekend, shuttled myself back and forth between two stages and took in six bands. Mother Nature barreled in and canceled the last outdoor band of the night and of course it was the one I was most excited to see. Hopefully, The Lone Bellow will be back and share their love at next years gathering. I caught them at House of Independents a couple of years ago and I still live with that energy to this day.
Every year mixes in local and national acts and up first for me was the only other band I was familiar with on the day, Swift Technique. I really dug these guys the first time I saw them and this time was no different. Staying with the Philly connection on the Marina Stage, Greg Sover Band hit it up with some great, blues rock. The four piece may be a local act but they have garnered National acclaim and recently put out a 7 song EP that furnished some outstanding reviews.
Over to the second stage, and the start of the back and forth for me, The National Reserve was the next stop and the beginning of the Brooklyn connection. This quartet’s latest release was in May, and they will be in Belmar for the Songwriters On The Beach Series August 30th. Based on their performance, that is going to be an amazing night. The other Brooklyn act to take the stage was M.A.K.U Soundsystem. Coming in with a Caribbean feel, their words of spreading peace and balance through their music resonated with the ever growing crowd.
I do believe the next band was the highlight of my afternoon. So to preface, I am a fan of music, though there are certain styles I do not actively engage in, every now and then I surprise myself and become a fan of a band that I normally would not think of. And this is part of the beauty of live music, you just never know. Anyway, Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real were incredible. God, I am actually going to say this….mainly because it just now came to mind. A little bit country, a little bit rock in roll (Brownie points if you know where that comes from) and a whole lotta soul. Not like motown soul, but deep, from the heart sing it like you mean it soul. The quartet will be back in the area August 12 for NYC’s Americana Festival and then September 15 and 16, performing with the Outlaw Music Festival. Funny thing is, I did not find out until two days later who is famous father is…
With The Lone Bellow’s set overtaken by mother Nature, the last set on the outdoor stages for the evening was Bermuda Triangle. And silly me was so into watching Lukas Nelson, I did not get over to the other stage early enough to grab prime real estate for photos. Bermuda Triangle, if you have not heard of them, features Brittany Howard, Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser. Incredible display of vocals, incredible. I was psyched to see Brittany Howard, Becca and Jesse put it right over the top.
I did not stay for the inside portion of the show, but I heard David Byrne was stellar!
The choice selections from the day: