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Reporter reflects on XPN festival coverage

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I was nervous. This was my first time covering a music festival and I did not want to disappoint, but the nerves seemed to melt away as I made my way through the gates of the 2014 XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru July 26 on the Camden riverfront.
As I made my way through the crowds and the vendors, I saw throngs of people planted in front the Marina and River stages in Wiggins Park. The River stage provided concertgoers with a dazzling vista of the Philadelphia skyline against a tranquil Delaware River — the perfect backdrop for a summer festival.
I decided the day would, indeed, be exponential.
Concertgoers were friendly and enthusiastic, several of whom I had the chance to sit and chat with on the lawn while the sun’s warm rays engulfed us.
For some, this was a first-time concert experience, but for others it was a lifestyle. There was Lauren Kyle who had been coming to the festival for six years, Ashley Walters five, Matt Fried three.
“It’s amazing,” Fried said, “Amazing.”
The trio, all from Philadelphia, were situated in front of the River stage waiting for Hurray for the Riff Raff to perform. They seemed relaxed, as they lounged on blankets and lawn chairs, munching on homemade snacks and sipping cups of beer.
“This is how XPN is done,” Kyle said — sunglasses on and face lifted toward the sky. She gave a loud sigh.
The air pulsated with music ceaselessly as bands like American folk-blues band Hurray for the Riff Raff, brought their Louisiana twang to the waterfront. The rustic sounds of Tennessee-native Caitlin Rose made the audience chuckle with her girl-next-door image juxtaposed with songs about the worst pack of cigarettes she ever smoked while performing on the Marina stage.
Then there was the voice of handsome, singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith from the midwest who whisked listeners away with his soulful, indie-pop sound and songs about heartbreak and one-night-stands.
But of all the voices that seemed to whirl through the air, one stood out among them all. Indie-pop singer and two-time XPN festival performer, Ingrid Michaelson, brought her distinct, beautiful voice and quirky style to the festival and did not disappoint. Not only did she rock the piano, ukulele and guitar, she performed popular songs like “Be OK,” “The Way I Am,” “Parachute,” and “Girls Chase Boys” all while taking the time between songs to chat with fans and share her love for the “Planet of the Apes” films.
The sounds, the smells, the people, the food, the music — the festival seemed to optimize the spirit of summer. The nerves I felt before I entered the festival gates seemed to belong to someone else, as the energy of the day carried me away.
Michaelson seemed to express best my metamorphosis from nervous reporter to relaxed, concertgoer in the song “Afterlife.”
“We all, we all, we’re gonna be alright/ We got, we got, we always got the fight in us/ We all, we all, we’re gonna live tonight/ Like there’s no tomorrow ’cause we’re the afterlife.”
Well said Michaelson, well said.
Jarreau Freeman is a staff writer for 21st Century Media. Follow her on Twitter @JarreauFreeman.

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