There was something in the air during Bailen’s set at XPNFest, and it wasn’t the rain - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
2023.09.23 - Bailen - XPoNential Music Festival 2023

Folk-rock trio Bailen took the stage at the Marina stage this afternoon, unfazed by the stormy weather. As the wind howled, the siblings Julia, David, and Dan managed to pierce through it all with a brilliant beam of rhythm and harmony, casting a radiant light into a gloomy sky. They treated the audience to a nine-song set, with most coming from their debut Thrilled To Be Here, with a sprinkling of tracks from their recently released album, Tired Hearts. Before opening with the title track from that album, they declared, “This is pure devotion here,” praising the crowd for sticking out the weather before their beautiful harmonies came in. Julia’s hair, tousled by the wind, added a dramatic flair to the line, “Life goes on like it always has,” bringing the first song to a poignant close.

Next came a ballad of resilience, “BRCA (Nothing Takes Me Down),” which Julia introduced with heartfelt words about their mother’s battle with breast cancer that warmed our hearts. A touch of country twang infused the energetic groove of “Going on a Feeling,” accompanied by a mesmerizing guitar solo from Julia. “Call It Like It Is” continued the groove with a commanding bassline that had the audience tapping their feet and swaying to the rhythm. Julia’s guitar slide toward the end added a thrilling dimension. The band’s chemistry was upbeat, and Bailen was clearly happy they got to perform on the XPNFest stage; “We’re still playin’ a set!” Dan exclaimed, humorously alluding to a backstage conversion about electrocution concerns. Indie grooves on “Got Nothing Left to Give” mixed with mesmerizing rock on “Your Love Is All I Know,” marked by David’s riveting drumbeats and Julia’s folk-inspired fingerpicking; a thrilling drum solo and a rock-out session among the band members broke the folk spell momentarily.

Before their final song, lead vocalist Julia expressed gratitude, saying, “Thank you XPN for being our home away from home,” with the band echoing thanks to public radio and the dedicated crowd. They closed with “Not Gonna Take Me,” a fierce country-infused track that could have tricked anyone into thinking Dolly Parton had joined the XPN stage. The drums thundered, and Julia and Dan leaped onto the drum platform to playfully conclude the set.

XPoNential Music Festival
  • Tired Hearts
  • BRCA (Nothing Takes Me Down)
  • Something Tells Me
  • Going On A Feeling
  • Call It Like It Is
  • Nothing Left To Give
  • Leave Me Wanting More
  • Your Love Is All I Know
  • Not Gonna Take Me
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