Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Nicole Mago + Joe Papeo
Why do people flock to music festivals like Firefly anyway? Sure, big shot headliners like Foo Fighters, Outkast, and Jack Johnson can sweeten the deal, but there seems to be a much stronger force behind the chase for rock n roll romance.
This June 19th-22nd, 70,000 attendees trekked down to The Woodlands because they wanted to be truly amazed. They were in search of real, honest, and raw moments that would leave their jaws dropped, their heads spun, and their spirits sky-high. And from the epic cover songs to the super-cool collaborations that went down in Dover, fans found their fair share at the third annual Firefly Festival.
We probably won’t remember every set-list or even every band we saw in Delaware, but we’ll always cherish those precious, momentary musical victories that made us curse out in utter awe.
Ladies and gents, here’s the top 10 ‘Holy Shit’ Moments of Firefly 2014…
If you’ve ever seen New Politics in action, you know that lead singer David Boyd has got moves for miles. And mere moments into his band’s afternoon set on Friday, the whole crowd at the Lawn Stage totally got served. Denmark’s finest showed Delaware just how he gets down, owning the stage with back-flips, headstands, stage-dives and all. Not only did Boyd break-dance us under the table, he had girls going wild over a cover of Justin Timberlake’s ‘My Love’.
Young the Giant
So your guitarist breaks his arm just days before you’re supposed to perform at Firefly. What’s a band to do? Well, if you’re anything like Young the Giant, you play on, but you keep it in the family. Right before digging into the hit song, ‘I Got’, lead singer Sameer Gadhia introduced Firefly to Stu Berk, the band’s tour manager, who somehow learned all the guitar parts in time to fill-in for the gig. The feat was so impressive that the World Cup-crazed crowd at the Backyard Stage could be heard chanting “STU-S-A! STU-SA!” in support.
It felt like the entire Firefly population came out to the main stage on Friday night to catch Foo Fighters at their only scheduled summer gig. And the headliner seemed to stretch out their ‘holy shit’ moment through the entire marathon set, performing arena rockers like ‘Learn to Fly’, ‘My Hero’, ‘Monkey Wrench’, and ‘Best Of You’. But fans soon learned this was just the appetizer for one of the most epic encores in the festival’s three-year history. After closing out the set with ‘All My Life’, Dave Grohl & Co. returned to the stage as The Holy Shits, a ‘bar band’ that gleefully channeled Alice Cooper (‘School’s Out’), The Rolling Stones (‘Miss You’), Van Halen (‘Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love’) and the Queen/Bowie classic ‘Under Pressure’.
twenty one pilots
So, the singer in your favorite band crowd-surfs at shows, huh? Oh, that’s cool. Josh Dun, the drummer of ‘Schizoid Pop’ act twenty one pilots crowd-surfs too. But he brings his drum-kit with him. That’s right, nothing but a piece of plywood stood between the rocker and his fans on Saturday afternoon. Front-man Tyler Joseph is also no stranger to death-defying stunts, and so not to be out-done, he went ahead and scaled the light tower at the main stage, which was probably about three stories high.
We’ve been rallying for Grouplove ever since we met them at Firefly 2012, and our favorite flower children returned to Dover this weekend, scoring a coveted spot at the main stage on Saturday evening. And by the sheer volume of fans lined up to catch the indie rockers perform, you would have thought Grouplove was headlining the damn festival this year. Tearing through tunes like ‘Tongue Tied’ and ‘Ways to Go’, the band-on-the-rise played for their biggest U.S. audience yet, who sang along to every word.
Cage the Elephant + Imagine Dragons
When your favorite bands are kickin’ around the festival grounds together, casual meetings are bound to blossom into some killer collaborations, right? Cage The Elephant had already left their indelible mark on the Backyard Stage on Saturday afternoon, throwing confetti at their fans and even challenging them to a ‘crazy-off’. But with so much rock still coursing through their veins, they were compelled to crash the main stage during Imagine Dragons’ set too. Together they took the alt-rock anthem ‘Radioactive’ (and our endorphins) to whole new heights.
‘2014 Beck’ may have released a super mellow new album (Morning Phase), but ‘Festival Beck’ had a holy shit-load of energy at Firefly this weekend. His Saturday evening set at the Lawn Stage featured all his dance-party hits, including ‘Devil’s Haircut’, ‘Black Tambourine’, ‘Hell Yes’, and ‘Sexx Laws’. But what really wowed the crowd was when his band started grooving along to a left-field cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’.
Denver’s own technicolor DJ took the helm at the Backyard Stage on Saturday to appease all the midnight owls with his brand of ‘electrohiphopsoul’. They don’t call it Pretty Lights for nothin’ – the stunning visuals cast over the crowd were certainly larger than life, and served as a beacon to all the party people sight. And when Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic brought his saxophone aboard to play along, EDM fans got a much-needed second wind to carry them into Day 4.
It’s nice to know that a band you’ve been following for over a decade can still surprise you sometimes. Yes, Weezer played a ton of fan favorites during their Sunday afternoon set at the main stage, from ‘My Name is Jonas’ to ‘Island In The Sun’ to ‘Hash Pipe’. But what made the performance list-worthy was actually when Rivers Cuomo put his guitar down. Towards the end of the set, the front-man switched roles with drummer Patrick Wilson before Weezer had the crowd flipping out over an unexpected cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’.
The Lumineers + Jack Johnson
This year’s Firefly Festival featured more stages, later set-times, and even an extra ‘warm-up’ day on Thursday, so after raging, resting, and repeating all weekend long, it was a relief to find that the smooth, laid back sounds of Jack Johnson would help close out the festival on Sunday night. While some fans had already hit the road, the lucky ones that stuck around were treated to both a collaboration AND a cover. Folk darlings The Lumineers joined Johnson on his own tune, ‘Breakdown’, as well as a tribute to Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’.
Thank you Firefly, see you next year!!!
TheWaster.com | #Firefly2014