XPoNential '11 Memories
Right after the epic Xponential Music Festival 2011 weekend ended, several of our writers gathered 'round to share their thoughts. Present at this conversation was CAT COSENTINO, our young singer/songwriter blogger, GARY WIEN, one of our music bloggers, RICH RATNER, photographer, and JONATHAN ELLIOTT, Culture Vultures editor. We chatted about artists, interviews, beating the heat, and t-shirts. Here's what happened--and check out our Sounds of Summer 2011 hub for interviews and photos from the festival, continuing into next week!
JONATHAN ELLIOTT: First and foremost--what's your favorite thing about attending outdoor festivals?
RICH RATNER: Discovering new music!
GARY WIEN: Mine would be seeing some bands I haven't heard of or seen live before, festivals generally have a nice mix
CAT COSENTINO: I think the people who attend, watching their faces light up before they even SEE the stage, they hear the music echoing across the vendors and then their pace quickens to get their buts to the bleachers.
JOHN: I think my favorite moment of all weekend was when Gary and I were standing at the end of the pavilion on Sunday morning, and witnessed this incredibly energetic woman with a lawnchair sprint, full-burst, to claim her favorite spot on the green. You have to love "festival olympics."
CAT: I wish I had been there…sounds exotic.
GARY: …and she only went to the top of the grass... that's what amazed me!
JOHN: Gary, your look of "really?" made my day.
GARY: It's not like it's a cramped space, you know. At five minutes after gates open, she pretty much had whatever spot she wanted.
CAT: The venue was huge though.. ive never seen an outdoor stage as big as the River stage.
RICH: The fans don't mess around at these festivals.
JOHN: What was your most memorable fan experience? Who stood out?
RICH: There was this one younger hippy with hair dreads I never thought I would live to see…
GARY: I actually really dug seeing a pair of girls singing along to every Matt Duke song. Singing along to a local indie is pretty cool in my book.
RICH: I could imagine seeing that every day. Yeah, there were some fans standing right up in front swaying and singing every word. It made a bigger impact on our Marina stage being it is smaller. Easier to stand out.
JOHN: I loved the one guy in the khaki shorts and braided beard with visor who came by the JerseyArts.com booth... "Last summer, we won tix to McCarter here. We saw some Schubert. And it was AWESOME."
CAT: That’s great. Did you tweet that?
JOHN: I may have.
RICH: That was a top quote!
JOHN: What act are you most thankful to have caught?
GARY: Jukebox the Ghost.
CAT: Dar Williams. I’d read up on her a bunch beforehand, and really dug her set. Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, however, freakin’ ROCKED. I loved seeing him.
JOHN: Shemekia Copeland blew me away.
GARY: She had a great set. I've got interviews coming from Ra Ra Riot (who will be back in Jersey in early August at the Stone Pony), Shemekia Copeland, Matt Duke, and Kingsfoil
CAT: I’ve got chats with Deb Callahan and Sun Airway coming down the pike.
RICH: Ra Ra at the Stone Pony? Nice. I'm looking forward to seeing most of these artists again, outside of the festival, in smaller venues.
CAT: Some of these artists are used to building their sets in very different venues--Sun Airway said to me that they are used to playing dark clubs with blinding projector screens. TOTALLY different than Saturday's blinding sun.
RICH: That’s what I’m talking about—the festival vibe is great, but you know a lot of these artists are used to tailoring their acts to the places they play in all the time. Their home venues where they can be themselves.
JOHN: What was your nicest interview moment of the festival?
CAT: Deb Callahan and I had a great chat, and she really got involved in asking me questions back about the start of my music career at the end of me interviewing her. .We talked about her degree in social work and that her knowledge of social work actually influences some of her writing.
GARY: Seeing Shemekia's eyes light up when I asked her how it felt to be crowned Queen of the Blues (an hour before the XPN DJ announced it to the crowd) -- she was amazed it was public knowledge.
RICH: Those are both great
GARY: Interviewing Kingsfoil was pretty cool too. I love talking with the artist that kicks off the day. They've got such a cool spot, but people tend to overlook them. They're so excited when you pull them aside for an interview.
RICH: Pat from Smithereens was open to talk about anything. We almost got Captain America dominate conversation before we remembered our questions.
JOHN: Alec of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah wanted to talk about arts funding and Grounds for Sculpture.
RICH: He was REALLY into NJ Arts funding.
CAT: I liked when Sun Airway referred to their "music career timeline" and what it "looks" like, as a "well manicured bonsai tree.”
JOHN: You sort of expect these artists to be wrapped in a cloak of fame, whatever that may mean. I'm surprised and humbled by the accessibility and humanity of the folks we talked to.
CAT: That’s it exactly, John.
JOHN: Did you guys see any cool t-shirts?
RICH: I saw a "Gleaming the Cube" shirt. that was my favorite
CAT: I saw…a lot of people WITHOUT t-shirts.
JOHN: Ah yes. The sans shirt brigade.
GARY: That "Material Issue" shirt floored me... Hadn't seen one in like 20 years.
CAT: You know who worked a crowd really well? Keb’ Mo’. people just ate him right up.
RICH: He charmed the hell out of that place.
JOHN: What was your favorite onstage quote?
RICH: Keb' Mo’ had some great lines.
JOHN: I loved Shemekia's: "This is a song about an ex-boyfriend. I have seventy-eight songs about ex-boyfriends. And right here, WE'RE GONNA DO ‘EM ALL."
RICH: Someone said they used to live in same building as Keb’ Mo’. He said something like, "I may have lived with her for the day." We all sort of got the drift.
GARY: My favorite quote is one Cat might dig (it's more of a musician joke)—by Hayes Carll: "Ok, you've seen the banjo, now I'm gonna bring out an accordion. That reminds me of a story. An accordion band played a show on New Year’s Eve and the owner loved it. He said, "I want to book you again for next New Years Eve" the band leader said "Cool, can we leave our gear here?"
CAT: THAT’S awesome.
GARY: My wife didn't get it, but it cracked me up.
JOHN: We’re about out of time, gang. Thanks so much for the chat!
Check out all the Sounds of Summer posts and interviews here, and Rich Ratner's photos from the event here!