XPN's XPoNential Fest takes over the Camden Waterfront this weekend with an army of more than 30 folk, pop and rock bands. Along with headliners Wilco, the Avett Brothers and Counting Crows, several local acts are playing, including the War On Drugs, Work Drugs and Good Old War.
(Investigating why so many high-profile local bands have the words "war" and "drugs" in their names is beyond the scope of this article.)
Also representing Philadelphia is the folk-pop band Dr. Dog, which has come a long way since they formed in the early 2000s. "We started out playing these small parties and houses around the neighborhood," says frontman Scott McMicken, talking on the phone while driving back to West Philadelphia after a camping trip in Rhode Island. "They were sweaty basement shows where everyone was drunk on malt liquor, and everything was always really loud. Those shows were super fun."
Dr. Dog has since gone on to play bigger venues (they recently sold-out the Electric Factory), but their music has maintained the same sense of intimacy and urgency. "Be The Void," the band's seventh album, showcases the warm vocal harmonies and catchy grooves they do best, but it sounds meatier and heavier than their last few albums.
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There's also a few Philadelphia references. As he did on "Shadow People" from their last album, McMicken shouts out Baltimore Avenue on "How Long Must I Wait." About the song, which mentions "the war of Baltimore," he says, "that song's about a point in my life when I wasn't sure whether the thing I was waiting for was ever gonna come."
So, did he ever find what he was looking for? "Yes," he says, "but it was something different than what I thought it was going to be. And I didn't find it on Baltimore Avenue. I had to go to Tennessee."
If you go
XPN’s XPoNential Fest runs through Sunday at Wiggens Park and the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden. Catch Dr. Dog on Saturday at 7 p.m., and visit www.xpn.org for additional info.