Words by Cher Dunn | Photos by Joe Papeo
The 2016 Firefly Festival was met with a special breed of music fans this year. Truly having something for everyone, all kinds of music fans trekked to Dover, Delaware to catch their favorite acts. Fans danced and sang with friends and easily made new ones, with the epic soundtrack of their favorite bands in the background. What more can you ask for?
Thursday at Firefly started out strong with Caverns, AlunaGeorge, Oh Wonder, and one of our absolute favorite performers Jack Garratt starting off the festival. As Friday rolled around The Wombats started the dance party off early in the afternoon. Of Monsters & Men drew a massive crowd of people just standing and staring, while Flogging Molly played at the same time to a more energetic, dancing crowd. Civil Twilight performed a gorgeous set on the smaller, more intimate coffee house stage previewing and kicking off what is going to be a epic live tour.
One of our must-see acts of the weekend was Gallant. One of my favorite performers I saw at SXSW, Gallant did not disappoint at Firefly. Playing at first to an intimate audience, the crowd grew with every note the soulful, visionary R&B prince sang. Rightfully so, even the bouncers couldn’t help moving and grooving along. Gallant sounds perfect live, which is insane to hear when you watch him run around the stage, into the crowd, and illuminating so much energy into his performance while hitting earth-shattering note after note. Get on this incredible artist if you haven’t already, his vocals, performance, and band are stadium ready, so see him at smaller venues and stages now while you can.
Tame Impala. What follows might be biased because they are my favorite band, but here it goes. I could see Tame Impala perform the same set every night for the rest of my life and I would be truly happy. This band never lets you down. Every song sounds exactly like the record, but on steroids live. With soaring instrumentals, and an incredible light show to match, is hard not to feel like you’re floating on a cloud watching them perform. Mix that with perfectly timed confetti showers raining on everyone, Tame Impala had their massive audience hypnotized. We truly didn’t want the set to end, but luckily, Disclosure was next.
Ultra-talented producer/brothers Disclosure are also a live show you need to see, whether at a festival, their own tour or, as I do, both (really any time they are in the tri-state area). Bringing a new light to playing dance music live, it never gets old watching them build all of their songs in real time: multi-tasking singing, then playing bass, drums, keys, even the egg shaker all while dancing along. Their tracks featuring other artists they most likely introduced you to (Sam Smith, Gregory Porter) had dope illustrated video backdrops with a club-worthy light show. An epic dance party ensued with an endless crowd that seemed to include every single person attending the festival.
Saturday was a scorcher, but that didn’t hold music fans from going to the festival early. Like a marathon running back and forth to each stage, there were so many great acts to catch. Between Catfish & The Bottlemen, Atlas Genius, The Staves and Coleman Hell, the hustle to catch everyone was a sheer workout. One of my favorite performances came in the form of Son Little, who played the intimate Coffee House Stage. Everyone watching felt like we were seeing the best kept secret of the festival. A$AP Rocky drew a massive crowd during the late afternoon and promised to be headlining next year, which he absolutely should.
After being consumed by nostalgia watching Death Cab For Cutie, dancing your heart out with Tchami and M83, the most moving performance came from Florence & The Machine. Florence Welch, dressed like the goddess she is, soared back and forth from each end of the stage whilst hitting every soaring note. Fans got chills as Welch effortlessly delivered the passion of each vocal. She continually proceeded to thank us after, the fans. Between each song she encouraged everyone to be kind to one another and show acts of love to everyone around you. But the most moving moment was when Florence Welch performed “Spectrum”: running across the stage waving the rainbow flag as she sang “Say my name, and every color illuminates. We are shining and we will never be afraid again”. There was barely a dry eye in the house as everyone sang along at the top of their lungs.
Sunday was a huge close to the festival with much anticipated sets from Major Lazer, The 1975, and absolute legends Earth, Wind & Fire set to play. Plus, pop punk icons Blink-182 played a ton of hits to an adoring crowd that included our crying photographer, Nick Karp. The dynamic was there between founding members Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, and new guitarist Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio sounded better live than he had in recordings.
Another hot, sweaty dance party of a day ended with Mumford and Sons headlining, slowing things down for the crowd via a set of impassioned indie-folk anthems. It was a great opportunity for all the party animals of The Woodlands to cool down and sing along as one before Firefly 2016 came to a close.
Once again, Firefly left music fans with new artists to love and discover, a redefined love for already beloved acts, and one hell of a dance (and walking) workout.
TheWaster.com | Dover