Last weekend in Dover, Delaware, Firefly Music Festival united music lovers at the Woodlands for the fourth time. Despite a little rain dampening the hype on Saturday night, the festival was a weekend of camping, awesome food, and great music.
Guests started packing into the Woodlands on Wednesday night to set up tent for the marathon weekend ahead. Young Rising Sons, Cypher Clique, Jack Novak, and Josh Noren kicked off the festival at 5:30 PM the next day, leaving guests anxious and excited to see what was in store for days to come. Grizfolk and Young Rising Sons both played twice on Thursday and delivered solid performances double time. The Kooks and Tycho closed out the first day, ending around midnight, but noise, music, and the cracking of beer cans were heard throughout the campsites until early hours.
Friday was a heavier day, with over forty bands performing. Paul McCartney swooned guests with stories from his Beatles days and singing some of the iconic hits from the band. Zedd, How to Dress Well, and Marian Hill played the late night shows. Marian Hill, the Philly-originated twosome plays “Sax-ual Music” and could be the next big thing out of Philly, according to the Huffington Post. Marian Hill played on the Forest Stage and the smaller crowd allowed guests to get close to the stage and really see this band perform. They were sexual and interesting, and the music had everyone dancing. They were magical and one of my favorite performances of the weekend. A must-hear. Zedd attracted his usual fans, but I think the real magic happened at the smaller shows like How to Dress Well and Marian Hill after hours.
Saturday was the day everyone was anticipating, as guest’s favorites were scattered throughout the lineup. Unfortunately, a little rain cut a few performances totally out of the festival, leaving guests slightly disappointed, and definitely drenched. After Kid Kudi played three songs, he asked the audience to hang tight during a two-minute pause for the Firefly crew to figure out how to handle the predicted storm. A few minutes later, Kid Kudi came on and said that his performance would be cut short and the rest of the performances would be cut for the night due to the 60 MPH winds and lightning. Only two shows from the night were reschueled to Sunday—Steve Aoki and The Chainsmokers. Although most of the night after 9:30 consisted of chugging beers in the trunks of cars, the day was eventful with tons of really amazing performances like Andrew McMahon, the lead singer from Jack’s Mannequin, who due to popular demand, performed twice, Matt and Kim, and Foster The People. Kim from the edgy duo, wanted everyone to live out their concert dreams and encouraged everyone to sit on someone’s shoulders and to crowd surf. The crowd was wild.
Most fans were most disappointed with the lack of rescheduling for Kings of Leon who were supposed to perform that night at 11. Many fans said they specifically bought tickets to see the Kings of Leon and were disappointed that they were not rescheduled for the following day. The shows that were cancelled because of the rain were Matoma, Rustie, and Lettuce.
It wasn’t really the rain that was so much the problem, but the mud it created. I threw o
ut two pairs of shoes due to the muck and ended up just chucking a pair of flip flops because they just weren’t cutting it. Standout performances on Sunday included Hozier, Bastille, Empire of the Sun, The Killers, Tove Lo, and Raury.
Raury Alexander Tullis, professionally known as Raury, is a rapper from Atlanta, Georgia, who is steadily making his way into the land of mainstream. His music is a combination of sound mixing funk, soul, hip hop, and folk. He made a point to acknowledge the tragedy in Charleston and said it was his duty as a performer and figure to embrace his ability to make a difference. Raury released his first mixtape, Indigo Child in August 2014 and in the same year sealed a deal with Columbia Records. Snoop Dogg, Empire of the Sun, and Tove Lo all performed at the same time, forcing fans to make a tough decision on where to allocate their time. I spoke to fans and heard all three performances were awesome; the choice was mostly dependent on how big of a fan of each artist you were. The Killers, The White Panda, and The Chainsmokers closed out the festival. The Killers opened with their eternal hit “Mr. Brightside,” and closed with their other famous song, “When You Were Young.”
The woodlands are 154 acres of lush, wooded festival grounds tucked away within the beautiful 840-acre sports complex. Dover is located in close proximity to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York. Located within Dover city limits, festival goers are just a short walk from restaurants, hotels, a casino, universities and shopping; not that festival goers needed to leave, as Firefly had everything you might need during a weekend of camping. Over 70,000 people camp at Firefly and the festival offers several camping packages to accommodate guests, like RV Camping, Tent Camping, and Glamping, short for “glamorous camping, where guests got perks like access to AC, a larger campsite, and complimentary shower passes. As long as you were setting up tent somehow, you got the same experience with any package. Rows and rows of tents lined the camping areas and no matter where you set up, it was relatively close to an entrance to the festival. There was walking and there was a lot of humidity, but that’s all part of the fun…right? Central to campsites was The Hub, providing attendees with anything they might need outside the festival gate. You could grab fresh fruit from the farmer’s market, dance to music throughout the day at the hub Stage or The Hideaway Headphone Disco or practice yoga with the group before heading in. Located at each hub, was the general store packed with weekend necessities like camping supplies and groceries that was open 24/7. The Hub’s late night headphone disco guarantees the party won’t end just because the bands are done playing. When the Firefly stages shut down, the silent disco opened with dancing and DJs to keep the energy going into the early morning.
Inside Firefly, it was a museum of experiences and food. The Woodlands housed six stages, and tons of stuff to do. Some of the must-hits were:
The Thicket—If a beat drops in the woods, but everyone has headphones on, does it still make a sound? YES. The Thicket is one of the most popular attractions and was just awesome. Nestled in a wooden glen, the Thicket hosts an exclusive party experience hidden in the forest, while being on steps away from the main festival area.
The Brewery—Firefly partnered with Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and made Firefly’s very own craft beer bar. You could sample a bunch of variety of Dogfish Head’s award winning beer in an air-conditioned lounge with live streaming of the festival.
The Hammock Hangout—It was easy to get a little tuckered out running back and fourth to catch all the shows and the Hammock Hangout was the perfect excuse to relax during the festival. This is where you could find me most of the time.
The Pathway—During the day, the Pathway was beautiful, but it really got funky when the sun went down. Guests could swing through their favorite forest clearing after sunset to check out some lighting and video displays that will put the neighborhood Christmas-lighting enthusiast to shame.
The Market—situated strategically among the trees for shoppers to have shade, The Market featured over ten different shops for higher-end festival goods like hats, jewelry, and tee shirts. It was convenient because if you didn’t feel like carrying your new item around all day, lockers were steps away from the market so you could store your new goods.
The food selection was very impressive. The dining area was essentially a high-end cafeteria with tables and a sitting area covered by see-through sheets and lights to create a bungalow-type ambiance. There was healthy options, including vegan and vegetarian choices, and if you were hungry for something unhealthy, or something downright bizarre, there were options. The Burger Joint featured any type of burger you could think of, from a Portobello mushroom burger to a BBQ bacon burger smothered in BBQ and piled high with bacon. American Grill, Front Porch, and Grotto Pizza were some of the choices.
I left the show immediately after The Chainsmokers, got to my car thirty minutes later, and didn’t get home until well after four, and went to work the next day at 9 AM. To say it was rough would be an understatement, but I guess it’s the price one must pay for being a festival-junkie.