Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Joe Papeo
Day 3, how did we get here? It seemed like we just pulled into The Woodlands moments ago, but alas the 2013 Firefly Music Festival was coming to an end. Yes, it was time to go for one last swing in the Hammock Hangout, toss one more beanbag at the cornhole game station, and pop a few more chicken & waffle bites from the food vendors before we hit the dusty trail.
Between the lush scenery, the unique attractions, and the outstanding roster of musical acts, the Firefly Festival is quickly becoming the East Coast’s must-see music event. It’s so superb that the great people from Red Frog Events (the festival organizers) have just signed a ten-year agreement with the venue at Dover International Speedway to ensure many more summers of sonic bliss.
Before we said our bittersweet goodbyes to our new favorite tradition, we had our last hurrah with the likes of HAIM, Ben Harper, Dispatch, Passion Pit, Vampire Weekend, and this weekend’s ‘little engine that could’, Foster the People.
The sisters HAIM don’t even have a full-length album out yet and they still filled the Lawn Stage to the brim on Sunday. “We were not expecting this at all”, one sister remarked to a full house ready to hear songs off the critically acclaimed Forever EP. These ladies have been billed as ‘folky’ and ‘soft rock’, but after seeing them live, these descriptions seem to do a disservice to HAIM’s overall edge. What we saw was some down and dirty rock n roll, especially during the totally heavy drum trip that closed out the set.
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
We followed the hula hoopers down to hippie headquarters next, where Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite were jamming away on the main stage. The blues guitarist and harmonica legend teamed up on songs from their collaborative album Get Up!, including ‘I Don’t Believe a Word You Say’ and ‘Don’t Look Twice’. Harper donned a t-shirt with ‘Gracias’ emblazoned across the front, but the pleasure was all ours as he and Musselwhite paid tribute to some other rock gods with their smokin’ set-closing cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’.
Dispatch may not be a household name, but their loyal fan-base has always treated them like headliner material. So it’s no surprise that the roots rock trio had the Lawn Stage in a full-fledged sing-a-long on this beautiful afternoon in June. Crowd-pleasers like ‘Bang Bang’, ‘Elias’, and ‘Outloud’ all made the set-list, and the band had a brief Mumford & Sons moment when they brought out a banjo player to put some twang into ‘Flying Horses’. Even if you stepped into unfamiliar territory during this set, there was no denying Dispatch spread good vibes far and wide.
Very few things can prevent an artist from carrying out his or her work. But as anyone who suffers from allergies knows, symptoms don’t really care if you have a high-profile gig at the main stage of a massive music festival. Unfortunately Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos had to cut his band’s set short after only 7 songs because the poor guy lost his voice. Fans of the electro-pop act still got to hear some hits in the form of ‘Carried Away’, ‘Take a Walk’, and ‘Little Secrets’, and to show their sympathetic support, they pretty much took over the vocals completely for the closer, ‘Sleepyhead’.
Blue skies and bouncing beach balls overhead set the scene for another indie act, Vampire Weekend. Just like the Firefly Festival itself, this band is having a big year in 2013. Their latest album Modern Vampires of the City debuted at #1 last month, and on Sunday evening the Columbia-bred indie rockers hosted their own hipster heaven at the Lawn Stage. VW played new tunes like ‘Diane Young’ and ‘Ya Hey’ as well as commercial favorites ‘Oxford Comma’ and ‘Holiday’. And sure, it was the second-to-last set of the weekend, but these stars had the audience smiling from ear to ear.
Foster the People
The weekend was winding down, which meant there were mere hours until we all had to return to reality. So naturally, there was nothing left to do but cover yourself in glitter and go see Foster the People. Firefly’s final act opened up with a synth-heavy ‘Helena Beat’ off their debut LP Torches, and from there we pretty much blacked out from all the awesomeness. Looking back, we remember flashes of bright bright lights, groovin’ back-up singers, masked dancers posing on pillars, and glowstick-waving fans up front going totally ape shit. But basically, whoever decided to have these ‘underdogs’ close out the festival should get a big fat raise. Sure, the LA-based indie-pop trio only has one album, but that didn’t stop them from rightfully stealing all of Sunday’s thunder.
Thank you Firefly! Can we be friends forever?
TheWaster.com | Firefly 2013