WXPN, the non-commercial, member-supported radio station of the University of Pennsylvania at 88.5-FM, stages its 2019 XPoNential Music Festival, presented by Subaru. The annual three-day festival takes place July 26-28 at Wiggins Park and the BB&T Pavilion, located next to each other on the Camden, N.J. riverfront.
The XPoNential Music Festival draws audiences from not only the Greater Philadelphia area, but throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. This makes the event's 15th year at Wiggins Park and the eighth year at BB&T Pavilion. WXPN produces the family-friendly XPoNential Music Festival in partnership with the Camden County Board of Freeholders.
In partnership with concert promoter Live Nation, some of the biggest crowds are likely to be when XPN presents evening concerts with Hozier, Japanese Breakfast and Philadelphia act Killiam Shakespeare on Friday, and Elvis Costello & The Impostors and Blondie on Saturday, both at BB&T Pavilion.
Blondie drummer Clem Burke said the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will draw from a successful set that they recently played on a bill with Billy Idol in Calgary: two to three songs from their 2017 album "Pollinator," the hits (such as "Heart of Glass," "Call Me," "The Tide is High," "Rapture" and "Dreaming"), and deep cuts from a catalog that goes back to 1976.
"At this point in my life and music career, it's good stuff to look back on, and it keeps you going in a lot of ways," Burke said, noting that Blondie are writing songs for a new album. "We look at ourselves as a cult band, but most cult bands don't have four number-ones."
Burke recalled that the last time Blondie toured with Elvis Costello, their crew played a practical joke on them by being absent when the band took the stage. He is good friends with Pete Thomas, Costello's long-time drummer. "We began at the same time, in the mid-'70s, and I think it's gonna be really good," he said of the co-headliner tour.
Among the artists from the diverse curated playlist of XPN performing at Wiggins Park:
Friday: Dawes, Bettye Lavette, Rayland Baxter, Nilufer Yanya, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram and Philly's Foxtrot and the Get Down.
Saturday: St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Wood Brothers, Philly band Low Cut Connie, J.S. Ondara, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Caroline Rose, Y La Bamba, The McCrary Sisters, Philly local Ali Awan, and The Vaughns.
Sunday: Amy Ray of Indigo Girls and The Amy Ray Band, Guster, Kathleen Edwards, Gregory Alan Isakov, Dave Hause & The Mermaid, Lucy Dacus, The War and Treaty, Ruston Kelly, Sean Ardoin, local band RFA, and Zeek Burse.
That's more than 30 artists on three stages at two venues. "We'll be in good company," Burke said after hearing a few of the names on the bill.
"A lot of festivals these days all speak to one song, and we speak to different songs. Variety and diversity, that's always been a big part of what WXPN is," said Bruce Warren, XPN's associate general manager for programming.
"Amy Ray, she has an amazing band — an eight- to nine-piece band," Warren said, noting that the artists he is most likely to stop whatever he is doing to watch will be Dawes and Kathleen Edwards, whom he said recently returned to making music after taking a hiatus.
Have they posted the schedule of who's playing when?
What else is happening besides the music?
In addition to food, drink and vendor selections, there will be activities for children in the Kids Corner Garden. Also, stroll the riverfront promenades that offer views of the Delaware River and Philadelphia skyline.
How easy is to get tickets?
See all ticket options, including the 3-Day Go Everywhere Passes, at www.xpnfest.org. Tickets for the July 27 performances at BB&T Pavilion have a Saturday Festival Access add-on option for Wiggins Park stages.
XPN members get complimentary beverages and artist meet-and-greets during scheduled times in the XPN Members Only area. A member wristband is required for access to the Members Only Area. To get a wristband, you'll need to show your member ticket stub at one of two wristband stations at the festival site.
Camden Children's Garden Access on Saturday and Sunday is included in the 3-Day Go Everywhere Pass, Single Day with Festival Access ticket, and Wiggins and Garden Pass. All you’ll need is to show your daily festival re-entry wristband.
What's the address to put into my GPS?
BB&T Pavilion is at 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, N.J., and Wiggins Park is at 1 Riverside Drive, Camden.
Or is it better to take public transportation?
The Delaware River Waterfront Riverlink Ferry will be running once an hour starting at 10 a.m. It drops you off right at the festival entrance. Fare and scheduling information can be found at http://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/riverlink-ferry.
Also, PATCO has stations in Center City at Eighth and Market streets, 10th and Locust streets, 12th and Locust and 16th and Locust. Exit at the Broadway station and change underground to NJ Transit’s RiverLINE for a quick ride, or go to ground level and walk three blocks. Schedules and fares can be found at http://www.ridepatco.org.
Since it's July, I'm going to have to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. What am I allowed to bring related to beverages?
Non-alcoholic beverages in plastic containers. Note that BB&T Pavilion only allows one 20-ounce sealed water bottle per person. Coolers are OK too, but be advised BB&T only allows a 16-quart cooler or smaller in the lawn section. Coolers larger than 16 quarts, or people with reserved seats, are required to be checked at the BB&T Pavilion secured items area at the entrance gate.
Not permitted are glass containers, cans or alcoholic beverages from outside the festival. Beer and food will be available for purchase at the festival. New Jersey state law requires that you must be at least 21, and you must present ID to purchase alcoholic beverages.
It's also a good idea to bring a blanket or low-profile chairs (no more than nine inches off the ground, with a seat back not exceeding 24 inches off the ground).
If it looks like rain, a regular size umbrella is a smart choice. XPoNential Music Festival is held rain or shine.
Will there be ATMs on site if I suddenly need cash?
Yes, four of them: two on the festival grounds and one outside of each gate entrance to the Festival.
Share your photos on social media with the festival hashtag #xpnfest, and tag the festival on Twitter at @xpnfest, on Facebook at facebook.com/xpnfest and Instagram at @wxpnfm. "You can't do anything without a hashtag," Warren said with a laugh.