Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Joe Papeo

Nestled within the The Woodlands at Dover Downs in Delaware, the Firefly Music Festival has enjoyed quite a growth spurt since its first annual outing in 2012. The “East Coast’s premier music experience” has already hosted big shots like Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White, and The Black Keys, but this year they topped themselves.

While it took Bonnaroo ten years to score a Beatle, Firefly did it in four. (Just sayin’.) It’s one of the many reasons that attendance has nearly doubled since the festival’s inception – in 2015, the Firefly family was 90,000 strong.

From June 18th-21st, the event delivered yet another incredible line-up of top notch acts like Paul McCartney, The Killers, Snoop Dogg, Cage The Elephant, Foster The People, Walk The Moon, AWOLNATION, Sublime with Rome and many more. And even though Saturday’s severe storm forced the night’s headliner Kings of Leon to cancel their performance, we found plenty of musical highlights to fill Firefly’s 2015 time capsule.

Ladies and gents, here’s the best of the fest…


Rookie of the Year
Playing their first American music festival ever, Wolf Alice repped their hometown of London at the Porch Stage on Friday. Guitarist/vocalist Ellie Rowsell and her trio of lads led the crowd through a pretty serious head-banging session care of rockin’ songs like “Moaning Lisa Smile.” It was easy to see why producer Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Foals) was tapped to work on the band’s debut full-length album, My Love is Cool.


Best Rock Performance
Anyone who claims that rock is dead needs to spend a good hour with Cage The Elephant. The boys from Bowling Green, Kentucky put on one hell of a show at the main stage on Friday, playing a round of hits including “In One Ear”, “Shake Me Down”, and “Come A Little Closer”. The clear cut star of the show was lead singer Matt Shultz, who repeatedly hurled himself into a jam-packed crowd of crazed fans without the slightest concern for his own personal safety. And honestly, what’s more rock n roll than that?


Best Comeback
Back in 2012, we caught a group of fresh-faced boys from Ohio making their Delaware debut to a group of curious onlookers. Flash forward to 2015 and Walk The Moon is a road-tested, synth-pop sensation that’s all over mainstream radio. They’ve still got their face paint and fly moves, but now they’ve got a massive loyal fan-base ready to sing along to every word, too.


Most Crowd-Surfers
There’s something about friendly singalongs like “Burn It Down” and “KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!” that make today’s youth go absolutely nuts. And the crowd at AWOLNATION’s set certainly put Firefly’s security team through the paces on Friday with a seemingly endless line of party animals surfing their way to the front of the Lawn Stage.

Sexiest Set
You would have thought that Glass Animals were a platinum-status band by the looks of the mob scene they drew to the Forest Stage on Friday. The Firefly family packed it in tight, grooving along to the “peanut butter vibes” of this band-on-the-rise. The Oxford outfit performed songs from their smooth and sexy debut album, ZABA, including “Gooey”, “Walla Walla”, and “Pools”. If you were looking for some heavy make-out music before sunset, this was definitely the place to be.


Act Never To Return To Delaware
Morrissey has never been a stranger to controversy, and he surely delivered during his Friday evening set at the main stage.  As the founding member of The Smiths performed the tune “Meat is Murder”, some pretty graphic imagery of slaughterhouses filled the big screen.  Soon Firefly fans began booing, seemingly insulted that an artist would dare have a message behind his music. While we were excited that Morrissey actually showed up in the first place, we’re not expecting him to be a repeat offender at Firefly anytime soon.

Luckiest Fan Alive
We were all pretty blessed to sing along to “Hey Jude” with thousands of weeping fans at Paul McCartney’s headlining set on Friday. But even that experience doesn’t quite compare to a young girl in the crowd named Carol Ann Pronovost who caught Sir Paul’s attention with a bright pink sign that read “I have your face tattooed, and you signing it is my dream”. Not only did Macca invite her onstage, he signed her arm with a Sharpie too. The next day, she found a local tattoo shop to make it permanent. And she lived happily ever after.

Most Swagger
Gary Clark Jr. has so much swagger that he could probably just stand onstage chewing gum and still look infinitely cooler than you. The blues hound from Austin, Texas is a man of few words, but he sure let his guitar do the talking on Saturday afternoon, putting on a smokin’ set at the main stage. Together Clark and his crew laid down a heavy Band of Gypsys vibe, tearing it up on songs like “Ain’t Messin’ Round”, “When My Train Pulls In”, and “Numb.”

Masters Of the Pre-Show Rain Dance
Some guys have all the luck. Unfortunately, Kings of Leon are not those guys. In what seems to be an ongoing curse (see Governors Ball, Austin City Limits), the Kings were forced to cancel their Saturday night headlining set due to a surge of severe weather. With a track record like this, we’re pretty sure the rain gods don’t own a copy of Aha Shake Heartbreak.


The ‘Am I Tripping?’ Award
Fans of The Chainsmokers forgot all about taking #selfies when they saw the debut of the duo’s completely insane new stage set up on Sunday. Dubbed “The Full Monte”, the elaborate spread featured massive 3D panels that towered above a sea of wide-eyed fanatics.


Best Rescheduled Set
Seeing an EDM act perform in broad daylight may seem sacrilege, but damn it, Steve Aoki can throw a raging party just about anywhere, anytime. After his late-night set was rained out on Saturday, the DJ made good with Firefly fans by hosting an outrageous show on Sunday afternoon. Aoki had the audience in the palm of his hand as he showered the stage with a signature mix of champagne and cake.

Best Cover Song(s)
Even though Kings of Leon lost a war with Mother Nature on Day 3, Firefly fans still got a small taste of their sound this weekend. On Sunday night, The Killers gave a nod to the Nashville rockers with surprise covers of “The Bucket” and “Use Somebody” during their headlining performance on the main stage. Leave it to Brandon Flowers to give back on his birthday…

Thank you Firefly, see you next year!

See even more photos from Firefly 2015 here!


TheWaster.com | Firefly 2015