The Districts | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
XPN Fest Recap: The Districts throw down at the river stage
There’s no reason to cover up the truth. Before today, for one reason or another, I had never seen The Districts perform live. And in all honesty, I wasn’t even all that well-versed in their material. But I had heard enough to know that they were a big deal, and my expectations were high.
In short, my expectations were met. The guys from Lititz, PA absolutely killed it and provided what is most likely going to be my favorite XPN Fest set of 2016. They rocked hard — a degree of hard that can’t fully be expressed in a brief recap such as this.
One thing my uninformed self did get out of Sunday’s set, besides a newfound fandom of The Districts, was the fact that a younger crowd was drawn to see The Districts. There’s no denying that this festival, overall, is geared to an older crowd, which is totally ok. All I’m saying is that the average age of a Mavis Staples fan is most likely a few decades higher than that of a Districts die-hard. Look around when the rock ‘n roll four-piece was ruling the River Stage, and full heads of hair were bobbing in numbers that haven’t been seen yet this weekend. And that makes sense, considering The Districts were still in high school when they made their XPN Fest debut three years ago.
This doesn’t mean anyone past their teenage years can’t appreciate what they saw today — because many in that category surely enjoyed the rockin’ set. Take Mavis Staples’ drummer, for example. He was seen sidestage during the show and was absolutely loving what he saw. And realize this: he’s a man who has a full set and soundcheck still to go. But instead of lounging in an air conditioned green room, there he was — in a tie nonetheless — taking in The Districts despite the sweltering heat.
In the mix with songs from A Flourish and a Spoil and some classics from their recently-reissued Telephone, the band rolled out two new songs: the psychedelic-tinged “Airplanes,” and the emotionally-cutting “Fat Kiddo.”
Between songs, Rob Grote and the boys didn’t have a lot to say. They thanked XPN and the crowd for their support several times, and commented on the hot temps at one point. Other than that, they let their playing speak for them. With their long hair flailing wildly, and their wicked rock filling the air, The Districts stole the show, closing with the explosive “Young Blood.” And not that they needed to, because they’ve been doing just fine without me, but they earned a new fan in the process.
4th and Roebling