Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Joe Papeo
If Day 1 of the 2013 Firefly Music Festival was the appetizer, then Day 2 undoubtedly featured the most satisfying multi-course meal you could ever stomach. Saturday’s schedule served up a diverse musical menu indeed, from the spiked punch of Japandroids to the slice of all-American pie toasted up by headliners Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
It was like an elite ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet for concert junkies, and like the shameless gluttons we are, we ate up every last crumb…
Closing out their tour with the good people of Firefly, Canadian garage rockers Japandroids wanted to go out with a bang on Saturday afternoon. “We’ll be setting off all our pyro in the parking lot later”, guitarist Brian King promised his army of loyal misfits at the main stage. The duo tore through new material like ADHD patients on a massive sugar high, spreading an infectious energy that fueled the most active crowd-surfing community we saw all weekend. Anyone looking for a reckless good time definitely got their fix to the tune of reverb-ridden songs like ‘The House That Heaven Built’ and ‘For the Love of Ivy’.
It didn’t take long for ZZ Ward to top our list of new musical discoveries on Saturday. Making her Firefly debut at the Lawn Stage, ZZ seduced the crowd with sexy, soulful vocals on jams from her buzz-worthy LP, Til The Casket Drops. She brought the salty lyrics and outlaw charm, while her band mixed elements of blues and hip-hop into a brazen style she’s come to call ‘Dirty Shine’. ZZ is one of the few female rockers on the scene that we can genuinely vouch as the real deal, and anyone who saw her in the zone during ‘Move Like You Stole It’ was immediately smitten.
Like a bearded beacon off in the distance, My Morning Jacket front-man Jim James honed all the hipsters in to the main stage for his afternoon set under the sun. Fans got the live treatment of mellow songs off his debut solo effort, Regions of Light and Sound of God, including ‘State of the Art’ and ‘Know Til Now’. Sure, he showed he can play a mean saxophone, but it was his dynamite vocal range that made this performance a highlight of the festival. Plus, only James can rock a purple suit in 80-degree weather and still look cooler than anyone else who held a mic this weekend.
In just a year, Alabama Shakes have seen their name jump up a few font sizes on festival bills, and for good reason. The rapid success of their debut LP Boys & Girls has garnered the group well-deserved attention from the mainstream. “Loooook at all y’all!”, singer Brittany Howard hooted as she marveled at the sheer magnitude of fans gathered at the main stage for her band’s gig. The vintage soul that seeped from the sound system on songs like ‘Rise to the Sun’ and ‘Hold On’ was so moving that, even the hyper-critical photographers in the pit put down their gear to give the Shakes a hearty round of applause.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
There are so many reasons why the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are infinitely more badass than you could ever be. But for the sake of time, and to spare your ego, we’ll just name a few examples of how their explosive Firefly gig set the bar for all aspiring rockers. Whereas most bands save their latest hit for last to in order to corral a festival crowd, Karen O and the boys kicked off their set with this year’s single ‘Sacrilege’, because let’s be honest – no one at the main stage was budging. Fans gasped for breath as YYY pulled the trigger on the fully loaded ‘Mosquito’, ‘Pin’, and ‘Heads Will Roll’ before the NYC art-rockers dedicated their most well-known tune, ‘Maps’ to a fellow badass – the late, great James Gandolfini.
“Look at that crazy moon”, Tom Petty said, pointing to the sky above the main stage during his headlining slot on Saturday night. “That’s gotta be good for music.” Not that the all-American rock n roll band needed any help, as Petty and his Heartbreakers fed Firefly hit after hit. The set ran the gamut of Petty’s beloved catalog, from ‘Won’t Back Down’ to ‘Learning to Fly’ to the festival staple, ‘Last Dance with Mary Jane’. All in all, it was the ultimate summer scene, and you couldn’t help but get sentimental as 50,000 people sang the words to ‘Free Fallin’ in perfect harmony.
Stay tuned for full coverage of Day 3!
TheWaster.com | Firefly 2013