XPN Fest Recap: Strand of Oaks brings rock and redemption to the Marina Stage - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Strand of Oaks | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

XPN Morning Show host Bob Bumbera gave Philly’s Strand of Oaks a rock star welcome to the stage, and the crowd followed his lead. When Tim Showalter stepped onto the Marina Stage, it felt like a long-awaited family reunion. When he started out with a cover of Father John Misty’s “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” it felt like the best inside joke between old friends (if you aren’t up-to-date on the infamous FJM-XPN Fest series of events, check it out here because a Strand of Oaks post can’t turn into the pure comedy that follows in Josh Tillman’s wake). But as Showalter put it after the cover ended, “That’s some redemption for you, XPN Fest.”

The band then ripped right into “Shut In” from 2014’s standout album HEAL. Tim barely stopped smiling throughout the whole set, and this was reflected back from the crowd as an atmosphere of genuine happiness radiated from stage and lawn alike, made even better when the sun broke through the gray day in a moment of pure cosmic collusion. The band wanted to make sure everyone in the lawn crowd was feeling the love, and before “On the Hill” Tim helped refocus the energy on the music, on remembering “what rock’n’roll can do because it brings joy.” He kept the band jamming and burning on the opening chords until everyone was standing and ready to move and be moved with him.

Before starting the Strand of Oaks classic “Goshen ’97” that morphed into a fest-wide sing-along jam, Tim gave a heartfelt thank you to WXPN and its support of him over the years. After seeing this performance, I may or may not be starting a petition to name Tim Showalter the Official Heart and Soul of Philadelphia. One fan shouted “you’re a legend, sir” during a quiet moment in the set, and I must say that I agree.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings (Father John Misty cover)
Shut In
Radio Kids
On the Hill
Goshen ’57
Rest of It

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