Spoon, Wilco, and 12 other must-see acts at the XPoNential Fest

Spoon will perform at the 2017 Xponential Fest in Camden.

Update: Due to weather, organizers have announced changes to the XPoNential schedule

This lineup for this year’s XPoNential Music Festival is stacked.

There may not be a big-name headliner that’s red hot commercially at the moment, and there probably won’t be a talking point as rich as last year’s controversial Father John Misty anti-entertainment rant.

But there are lots of good bands to see at the three-day event, presented by adult-alternative station WXPN-FM (88.5), which has been doing a summer fest on the Delaware River waterfront since 1994 and calling it XPoNential since 2007.

This year’s happens over three days at Wiggins Park in Camden and two nights at the adjacent, much bigger BB&T Pavilion. The depth of the lineup can be expressed this way: I was going to make this a Top 10 must-see list, settled on 12, then couldn’t stop till I got to 14.

There are plenty of other worthies throughout the weekend. They Philly jangly poppers Hurry and rootsy Jersey band Pinegrove on Friday, local rockers Strand Of Oaks, Cliff Hillis and Dave Hause & the Mermaid as well as provocative duo Foxygen play Saturday afternoon and  New Orleans woke folk-rockers Hurray For the Riff Raff and Delaware blues outfit the David Bromberg Quintet are on Sunday.

The full schedule is at xpnfest.org.


From alt-country beginnings in the 1990s, to their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot experimental period, to last year’s Schmilco, the Jeff Tweedy-led Chicago band have remained creatively restless and achieved dad rock godhead status along the way. Friday night at BB&T.

Conor Oberst

The Omaha, Neb. native who made his name as Bright Eyes remains an extraordinarily gifted songwriter whose talents are now often taken for granted. Evidence of that excellence can be heard most recently on last year’s underrated acoustic effort, Ruminations. Friday at BB&T.

Hop Along

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Hop Along will perform at the 2017 XPoNential Fest in Camden.

The Philadelphia foursome fronted by Frances Quinlan open up the show at the big room on Friday. Quinlan is a powerfully affecting singer, and the band is overdue since 2015’s excellent Painted Shut, so let’s hope to hear some new songs. Friday at BB&T.

Offa Rex

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Offa Rex (The Decemberists & Olivia Chaney) will perform at the 2017 XPoNential Fest in Camden. (COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS)

This supergroup of sorts is the musically impressive Brit-folk influenced ensemble the Decemberists, teaming up with an actual British folk singer in Olivia Chaney. In support of their self-titled new album, the band is here for one of only five scheduled U.S. dates. Friday at Wiggins Park.

Angel Olsen

A superb songwriter based out of, Asheville, N.C., emerged as a stark folkie at the turn of the decade and has continued to fill out and toughen up her sound, most recently on last year’s formidable My Woman. Friday at Wiggins.

Rhiannon Giddens

The Carolina Chocolate Drops singer and string player with big socially conscious folk music ambitions and the talent to match, she stretches out effectively on her new Freedom Highway, named after a Pops Staples song. Saturday at Wiggins.

Xenia Rubinos

A Brooklyn songwriter whose 2016 sophomore release Black Terry Cat wove together neo-soul and hip-hop with smart, street-savvy songwriting and a feminist message that draws on her Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage. Saturday at Wiggins Park.

Charles Bradley

The 68-year-old “Screaming Eagle of Soul” and former James Brown impersonator, he didn’t release his debut album until 2011. Last year’s Changes was named for a Black Sabbath song. A heartwarming performer, Bradley is carrying on after being diagnosed with stomach cancer last year. Saturday at Wiggins.


The Brit Daniel-led Austin, Texas, foursome are making pointed, minimalist rock that says as much with what it leaves out as it does with what it puts in. The new Hot Thoughts is one of their best. Saturday at BB&T.

Amos Lee & Friends feat. Preservation Hall Jazz Band

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band will will perform at the 2017 XPoNential Fest in Camden.

Quietly soulful Philadelphia songwriter Amos Lee last year released Spirit, his first self-produced effort. This intriguing combo will feature the New Orleans ensemble freed from stodginess under bold bandleader Ben Jaffe, who will also play their own Wiggins Park set during the day. Saturday at BB&T.

Chicano Batman

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Chicano Batman. (ATO RECORDS)

The psychedelic soul band from Los Angeles, who cast a groovalicious spell on their new album Freedom Is Free, and got Super Bowl face time when their updated version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” was the basis of a Scotch whisky ad celebrating America’s immigrant tradition. Saturday at BB&T.

Drive-By Truckers

The great Southern rock band, one of whose leaders, Patterson Hood, now resides in Portland, Ore., a move that shaped the wide-angle vision of last year’s terrific, politically engaged American Band. Sunday at Wiggins.

Adia Victoria

A South Carolina native “gothic blues” woman expert who emerged with the often-harrowing Beyond The Bloodhounds in 2016, then followed it up this year with an EP called How It Feels that’s sung entirely in French. Sunday at Wiggins.

The Dream Syndicate

The Steve Wynn-led Los Angeles foursome who are masters of Velvet Underground-influenced full throttle drone. After a nearly three-decade break, they’re back with a new album in the fall. Sunday at Wiggins.


XPoNential Music Festival

    • Friday-Sunday, Wiggins Park, Riverside Drive, Camden; BB&T Center, 1 Harbour Blvd., $35-$267, xpnfest.org