Firefly 2016. The fifth annual version of the music festival that takes over Dover, Delaware for four days in June, had a solid number of good bands and artists to choose from. The headliners were not as strong as previous years (I still like the first year’s headliners the best). I spent a majority of the time bouncing between one stage or another, eventually catching 30 full sets and another seven half sets.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Day 1 was more about logistics, traveling to Delaware, picking up my credentials (long line!), parking and finding the press tent, but I arrived in time to see a few acts.
Oh Wonder @ Lawn Stage – I enjoyed listening to a few of their songs as prep for the festival, so was targeting this UK indie pop band as my first. I thought I’d get there in plenty of time, but after many delays with parking, I strolled into the Woodlands just as they started. Lead singer Josephine Vander Gucht encouraged the crowd to “go after what you want – it will be smashing” in her rich accent during a powerful rendition of “All We Do”. I enjoyed all of their live songs. They were the highlight of the first day. I wanted to catch them in DC a few days later, but needed a break from concerts!
Jack Antonoff @ The Coffee House Stage – The first acoustic set I saw. Jack riffed on how he was in the middle of recording, and had to rush over to play this 30 minute set, and would be rushing back to keep recording. His cover of “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” was fun, and ending with Bleacher’s “I Wanna Get Better” was a nice touch. He joked that he didn’t know what to play, so started taking requests. He even paused at one point to find out if someone who had ‘apparently’ passed out was okay (those on the other side of the stage didn’t know what was happening). A loose and playful set, that highlighted the power of the small stage concept.
Two Door Cinema Club @ The Backyard Stage – I’ve seen these guys twice before, but over five years ago, so was initially looking forward to hearing how they played their new material. Yet, I think this was one of those times where I just wasn’t in the mood to hear more new songs, so walked away disappointed.
I caught a few songs each from the DJ Jai Wolf and AlunaGeorge as well.
Friday, June 17, 2016
I started Day 2 early and ended up spending most of the time at the Firefly Main Stage.
KANEHOLLER @ The Pavilion Stage – I saw this duo open for The Ting Tings last year in DC. Chelsea Tyler’s (Steven Tyler’s daughter) sultry voice, Jon Foster’s falsetto, and the funky, soulful dance tracks provided a good way to start the day.
The Wombats @ The Firefly Main Stage – These Liverpudlians brought the fire as the first act of the day on the Main Stage, and set the tone for the great line-up scheduled later. I’ve seen them three times previously, including last year’s show in DC. This was their first time in Delaware, and they greeted the masses, “You guys are absolutely f#cking legends! We didn’t expect this many people at this time of day (2:15pm)!” They played two of my favorites, “Jump Into the Fog” and closing with “Techno Fan” from their second album. I just realized I don’t have their latest album (correcting that now), but they played a few newer ones like the gigantic “Give Me A Try” and fist-pumping “Be Your Shadow”. Already spent, and the day is just starting!
Saint Motel @ The Firefly Main Stage – These guys must love tigers, as a big statue adorned the stage. Lead singer AJ Jackson admired all the ‘beautiful’ signs and flags that concert goers were parading around. Their set was energetic and fun. The horn-infused “My Type” and piano-driven “Puzzle Pieces” were two real crowd pleasers. They teased that they just finished a new album, no details to report yet, so be on the lookout.
Guster @ The Lawn Stage – The Boston natives played a laid back set, with “Doin’ It By Myself” proving to be a funky, slow jam that struck the right mood moving into the early evening.
Fitz and the Tantrums @ The Firefly Main Stage – “Out of My League” was the highlight. They also played a number of new songs from their just released self-titled album, including the catchy “Tricky” and the head-nodding “Burn It Down”.
Of Monsters and Men @ The Backyard Stage – I always enjoy seeing these Icelanders, and this marked the fifth time for me. I sat far back (more strategic to depart for Ellie Goulding and being just tired enough that any open spot of grass looked amazing), so was mostly content to watch them on the big screens that every main stage had. “Dirty Paws” and “King and Lionheart” were standouts.
Ellie Goulding @ The Firefly Main Stage – I’ve yet to see Ellie live, so for Friday, her show was the one I was most anticipating. She nailed it. She was jokingly surprised that ‘more than 10 people’ came out to see her, but really most people were here. Performing many of her songs live involved choreographed dance moves, especially for “Something In The Way You Move”, which you can’t stop humming afterwards. Another slower song (“Army”) about her best friend, from her latest album Delirium, got the crowd singing along. She played a good number of newer songs, but both “Lights” and “Anything Can Happen” were the highlights of an overall amazing set.
Kings of Leon @ The Firefly Main Stage – I really like two songs by Kings, and only two, the rest I don’t know. They didn’t play either until the end, so for the most part I simply watched but didn’t find anything new to engage with. I wasn’t blown away, but based on the crowd reactions, many were.
I caught a couple of songs by Disclosure as I walked out, but I knew Saturday and Sunday were big days, so prioritized sleep.
Upcoming posts: Days 3 and 4 & another band review