As I write this, my feet are blistered, my shins are sore, my neck, charred from too much natural Vitamin D. I still feel like I need to sleep for a week, mostly because I got my ass kicked and had the time of my life at Dover, Delaware’s brand spankin’ new Firefly Festival, held right around the corner from the city’s International Speedway.
For a first-time festival (and also my first!), Red Frog Events did a fantastic job in planning this three-day adult playground/shitshow. A fast-moving entrance line with little-to-no hassle and a smart layout of the grounds made for an efficient, organized weekend full of music, rain, sun and debauchery. A special vineyard area, hammock hangout, arcade, and Dogfish Head on-site brewery, equipped with the festival’s own branded brew (Firefly Ale!), kept festival goers happy, entertained, and drunken.
For a full list of bands or for more information about Firefly, head here, but here’s some (hopefully brief) commentary on the bands my gang saw throughout our experience:
Heartless Bastards – These guys really blew me away. Erika Wennerstrom’s voice was powerful and charged; the band, as a whole, completely tight, never missing a single beat or mini jam session. I liked them before, and I love them now.
Walk the Moon – These guys are up-and-comers who have not quite reached mainstream appeal, but will definitely do so soon. They’re one iTunes commercial away from being mega-stars. Hailing from Ohio, these guys were young and had energy seething through their veins. Lots of face paint, lots of synths, and even a Bowie cover. Nice!
Bassnecter / Silversun Pickups – Kiiinda wish I stayed for the entire Bassnecter set. From what I did see, it was an experience for the kids who were fucked up enough.
Jack White – Hands down, the best set of the entire festival. White set the bar high, cruising through the catalogues of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather, while scattering his solo tracks in between. White plays with no setlist, so his band usually has to be ready for anything. That they were.
Cults – Cutesy little duo that played superb afternoon surf/Motown/chill jams. Singer Madeline Follin is the kinda gal you want to take home to your Mom after buying her some chocolate and winning her a teddy bear at the carnival.
Grouplove – Speaking of Apple commercials, we saw Grouplove! They were loud, poppy, fun, blue-haired, harmonized, and killed a Whitney Houston cover. In fact, this band’s live show made my Festival Five!
Yeasayer – Yeasayer had to be called in as a last-minute replacement for Passion Pit, who cancelled. But dammit, I’m glad it worked out this way. Yeasayer was an intense, 80’s-inspired dance party. A must-see!
The Killers – The Killers used to be one of my favorite bands when they first hit the scene. Their set was filled with both new tracks that hadn’t even debuted yet and oldie-but-goodie faves, serving as a perfect nostalgic throwback for this festival-goer. YouTube new track “Here On Out,”; avoid “Flesh and Bone.” Oh, yeah. And a shitload of fireworks is very visually appealing for partiers who are….less than sober.
Penguin Prison – Electropop outfit led by Chris Glover. For having a rough noon timeslot, Glover brought the dance-party hours ahead of its time, making for a fantastic start to our last day there. Download “Multi-Millionaire” and love your life.
The Head and the Heart
AWOLNATION – Some might know AWOL from that one song that repeats the word “Sail” a lot, but trust: AWOLNATION is not a one-trick pony or one-hit wonder. Led by Aaron Bruno (formerly of Under the Influence of Giants), AWOL brought some much-needed Hard Rock to an otherwise indie festival. The electronic-rock sounds found on the album were all amplified by 11. Festival Five!
Fitz and the Tantrums – Fitz’s live show proves that vocalist Noelle Scaggs is underused on their debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. But let me tell you – she works well with Michael ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick, and their cover of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” was unforgettable.
Girl Talk – DANCE. FUCKING. PARTY. (Dance party, that is. Not an orgy or any other weird sort of ‘fucking party’. That’d be pretty gross at a smelly festival).
The Black Keys – To be honest, I thought I was going to puke and had to take a time out. From what I heard through my stupor, they sounded pretty…Black-Keys-ish. That’s kind of my problem with these guys. Seven albums later and they still sound pretty same-ish. Good times, but in my opinion, White and The Killers outshined the Keys.
With no further adieu, here are my Festival Five!
1) Jack White
4) Heartless Bastards
5) The Killers
Honorable Mentions: Girl Talk, Penguin Prison
So there you have it, ladies, gents and music lovers! Would I recommend the Firefly Festival to others looking for a good time? Hell yes. In fact, a limited number of pre-sale wristbands go on sale TODAY for 2013! Don’t miss it – I know I won’t.
Were you at Firefly? Share your stories and let me know what your fest highlights were!Tags: AWOLNATION, Bassnecter, Blunderbuss, Cake, Cults, Delaware, Dover, El Camino, Firefly Music Festival, Fitz and the Tantrums, Girl Talk, Go Outside, Grouplove, Heartless Bastards, Hot Fuss, Jack White, Modest Mouse, Moneymaker, OK Go, Penguin Prison, Polica, Red Frog Events, Silversun Pickups, Spaceman, The Black Keys, The Killers, Tongue Tied, Walk the Moon, Yeasayer