My Pot of Gold
Long sought performances and thirsty appetites awakened the quiet stirrings throughout the Woodlands along the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware this past weekend.
The days leading up to the fest sees high amounts of preparation in part of both the festival organizers, artists and the attendees themselves. See we’re a whole component to this festival. Yes, like every other festival, Firefly Music Festival wouldn’t work without attendees but this festival is truly about the fans. For instance the population of Dover, Delaware nearly triples as camping reaches a population circling 64,000 in size. That’s 64,000 teenagers to late adults sharing several lots throughout the 105-acre festival grounds.
As organizers set the stage and worked to illuminate the Woodlands, artists continued tours or sat on buses or planes, attendees packed and DiY’d and packed and sat in consuming anticipation that could only be quenched by binging Firefly playlists that seemed to litter Spotify like golden tickets… or was I simply looking too hard?
The drive down from Boston to the fairgrounds of Firefly Music Festival is a little over 6 hours, which means plenty of gas and or pee breaks, snacks and music. Endless music. And maybe some sleep. But mainly just music.
Upon arriving to the fairgrounds cars filled to the brim with stuff and the humans owning that stuff, waited in fields spraypainted to show narrow campsites that we would surely be soon occupying adjoined to our potentially insane neighbors. It was already exciting and the music hadn’t even started yet.
Directors saw the cars to their sites just in time for some nice rainfall and then a humid recovery. The ground remained droopy and wet, however the crowds tailgated, pre-gamed, packed up, psyched up and woke up. They headed inward towards Thursday’s offerings (Wednesday night did see performances including the Arkells however those were only for attendees who had purchased Wednesday Premiere Camping passes.) which included Alunageorge, Robert Delong, Oh Wonder, Jack Garratt, Felix Jaehn and Two Door Cinema Club. After a couple of long days and even longer nights I found myself drifting off from the stages early to find my sleeping bag, which despite it’s lumpy contents and rough resting ground, was my savior that weekend.
Friday saw three of my current favorite bands perform so obviously I was excited. Boy & Bear played an afternoon set in the sun at the Lawn stage which brought smiles and tears from my face as the sun slowly cooked my skin. Heading back to the campsite for a short while as The Wombats, Saint Motel, Vince Staples and more played their sets, I returned for the closing of Of Monsters in Men just in time to wait an hour for Tame Impala, my favorite band of all time.
Surrounding myself with other Tame fans for an hour was a great choice as it was one of the nicest crowds I had found myself in. Strangers were holding full conversations gushing over Kevin Parker’s brain or his geeky Aussie charm. Fans would compare their outfits or their totems throughout the crowd until it was finally time. The five touring members of Parker’s brain project took the stage for a hypnotic and groovy set as they toured the landscape of their sweeping discography hopping from their debut Innerspeaker (2010) to their sophomore Lonerism (2012) and last year’s Currents.
The night came to a close with the Kings of Leon finally getting their chance to grace the Firefly Main Stage after getting rained out in 2015, followed by another late night DJ set, this time by British lads Disclosure.
Saturday came with high heat and energy. Jeremy Loops, Moon Taxi, PVRIS, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Atlas Genius occupied the afternoon stages with a redeeming set by CHVRCHES who had disappointed during last September’s edition of Boston Calling. Fetty Wap arrived almost 40 minutes late into his hour long set only to disregard the rude gesture and lazily play only a couple songs and then walk off.
Luckily he was redeemed an hour later by way of a raucous set by A$AP Rocky. The rapper played the diverse crowd by even covering Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” at one point. Death Cab for Cutie, M83 and Tchami finished out the mid-card acts of the night giving way to dual headliners Florence + The Machine and Deadmau5 who were bridged by a crowd pleasing set by electric dance rockers St. Lucia sparked a fire in front of the Backyard Stage.
Sunday closed out the festival with high heat and the largest crowd of the weekend. Day passes were available in the weeks leading up to the festival and many purists were annoyed predicting a much larger and bothersome crowd during Sunday’s lineup as it featured the highly anticipated set by reunited punk gods Blink-182. The Staves warmed up the Main Stage with a soft opening set reminiscent of the HAIM sisters if they didn’t raise their never raised their voices above a soft croon. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats jived up the same crowd only about an hour later with his endearing charm and impressive chops. Elle King, The Struts, Trombone Shorty and Grouplove carried the rest of the evening, with the latter belting out a pleasing rendition of “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys.
The 1975 and a delayed set by late-comers Earth, Wind and Fire bridged the afternoon into the evening with hour long openers for Firefly’s main headlining act, Mumford & Sons. Although they ended with 15 minutes still to go in their allotted time, they still managed a hearty 105 minute set including some of their best tracks from their three releases Sigh No More (2009), Babel (2012) and the more rock heavy Wilder Mind (2015). The festival was officially closed by Major Lazer who wrapped up by midnight into Monday where campers found themselves at the end and ready to pack up whether they wanted to or not.
Trash and lots of lost phones and wallets remained littered throughout the Woodlands as people filtered out back to their homes either a town over or a country away. Minds filled with memories of camp grub, cold beer and great music.
But nothing can keep these fans down as pre-sale passes for next year’s edition (running June 15-18, 2017) – which will remain in the Woodlands – are now on sale. They sell for $249 and if you have ever attended before you know that that’s worth it. Bring it on Green Day (please?).
For more information on Firefly click here. Photo Credit: Andrew Bourque at Firefly Music Festival.