Just returned from Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware: review in list form below.
- Jack White: granted, I am a fangirl. But he is the genuine article. I have seen much lesser musical specimens (ahem sugar ray) throw major hissy fits over inopportune performance conditions, but Jackie boy took it all in stride. When the rain made the stage too slippery for his fancy white boots, he sat down and took them off, performing most of his set barefoot. When amateurish sound problems plagued the first song, he didn’t even roll an eye, even though the audience hurled plenty of abuse at the sound engineers. He just played on until the situation magically worked itself out. And he didn’t have any prima donna rules about which songs he would and wouldn’t play from his diverse and varied background with multiple bands- he represented not only his latest album but also several white stripes favorites (ball and a biscuit, dead leaves and the dirty ground, we are gonna be friends, seven nation army) as well as the raconteurs (steady as she goes). Totally worth the price of the the three day pass, and it was only the first night.
AWOLNATION - at this point, a day after the festival, I am still so affected by this band that I feel like I am able to divide my life into the period before I knew about AWOLNATION and the post-awakening. Going into their set I had no idea what to expect - I knew I had seen the name but I thought maybe he was a DJ. They came out brilliantly to “people”, a song I instantly recognized, although I didn’t know from where. “this is them?!?” I asked my sister between jumps. As they worked their way through their versatile catalog I recognized an approach to music that is so rarely successful it is almost unheard of - they seemed so unaffected, so unwilling to be categorized according to any particular genre. They radiated good vibes without being preachy or cheesy, they screamed and crowdsurfed without making me feel old, and they seemed to genuinely enjoy being there more than any other act at the festival. Brand new obsession.
Charles Bradley- this man’s story is incredible, and you can tell he is undyingly grateful for every second he gets to spend on stage. After his set he stuck around to hug as many audience members as possible until his security team made him leave.
Girl Talk - nonstopdancepartyeuphoria. Seamlessly blended his known mixes with new stuff and remixed some of his old combinations so you knew he wasnt just being lazy. He was working hard, working magic and dispelling any myth about DJs just pushing buttons. Best workout ever.Modest Mouse: they are always good , but this time they played an extra long set including most of my favorites. Isaac wasn’t as chatty as he has been in the past, but the crowd wasn’t as intimate. They played “float on” which was a pleasant surprise considering I thought they had banned it - I know they must get sick of playing it for people who don’t know their other stuff but it is still a great song.
Hammock hangout- Firefly really outdid themselves and all other festivals with this little detail: a mulchy clearing full of hammocks and clearings where you could hang out and relax and hear the bands through the trees. Like being at a backyard party in high school.Transportation: Dover is not that hard to get to. Way easier than coachella or sxsw or bonnaroo. For that reason I think it should survive as “the east coast music festival”. Audience: the lead singer for OK Go remarked how white we were, and he was right. So that is a strike against us for lack of racial diversity. However, there seemed to be a great deal of age diversity, from older couples to infants and cool young parents who brought their rock n roll children. The crowd was generally well behaved- no fights, no nudity, very little excessive substance abuse. The staff: such nice people working this festival. Always kind and spreading good vibes, never making you feel like they resented you. I witnessed one attendee on the way out thanking each worker individually, and the crowd control workers on the bridge shouting out to the crowd at the end of the night asking if they had fun.
Not so great:
-Cake: preachy, bored, boring. Seemed cranky and not excited to be there. The audience got a lecture about filming their performance, which you’d think theyd be over by now. We left at the point where they divided the audience into two competitive teams- boo to antagonism. Also didn’t play much fun besides “love you madly” and “sheep go to heaven”, which are both debatable.
Killers: I sort of knew what I was getting into here, but many who were bigger fans of the killers going into the festival might have been disappointed. They did have fireworks- plus ten points! And they played all the good stuff from their first album (“smile like you mean it” being a personal fave). I also thought some of their new stuff sounded promising. Still, Brandon Flowers has the stage presence of mitt romney, and some of the lyrics are just so absurd that it really doesn’t help to blow them up on a huge display behind the band while they sing them. Why show your own music videos while you are on stage performing? Distracting, over the top- you, Brandon, are not Lady Gaga. Speaking of which, do you killers care to define your sound? Because you’re constantly biting from Bowie and Springsteen and its not helping move things forward. All cash e’rything: we have the technology, let’s use it- I don’t want to have to go to the ATM constantly, pay painful fees and carry cash - let me swipe to pay. Heard of square?