The Top 10 Moments of Firefly Music Festival 2013


    Firefly 2013

    Last year’s inaugural Firefly Festival was the dirty little secret of 2012’s festival season. It managed to go relatively unnoticed, despite the fact that it boasted an incredibly strong lineup and atmosphere to rival any of the major US fests. So, it was a little hard to know what to expect for the second go-around this weekend in Dover, DE. Sometime during the third hour of waiting in standstill traffic on Highway 1 South, however, it was pretty obvious that word had gotten out. Everything from the size of the campgrounds to the number of attendees had almost doubled in size. Rather than having bit off more than the still-fledgling festival could chew, the weekend once again proved to be a resounding success.

    Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, and Foster the People rounded out the top of the bill. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – but what these headliners lacked in the hip department was made up for by an above average list of mid/lower level acts. Combine that with a serene, evergreen-lined setting, gracious staffers, and ample shade and you’ve got a festival with the potential to stick around. The folks who put on Firefly are clearly in it for the long haul, and they rose to the occasion with flying colors.

    firefly2013 The Top 10 Moments of Firefly Music Festival 2013


    I actually lost count of the number of bands who took time out of their sets to specifically note how well they had been treated by the festival staff. It was something you don’t see too often, and bodes well for many Fireflys to come. Perhaps it was the shady oak tree around every corner, or the area of woods devoted solely to hammocks, but Firefly’s stress-free temperament cannot be overstated. Especially after the mud-covered clusterfuck that was Governor’s Ball earlier this month, it was hard to disagree with Firefly’s not-so-modest tagline: “The East Coast’s premiere music experience.”

    Photography by Yetunde Dada.

    When Schoolboy Q personally hugged everyone in the audience who was expecting to see Earl Sweatshirt

    firefly2013yetunde The Top 10 Moments of Firefly Music Festival 2013

    Earl Sweatshirt was scheduled to perform at The Porch Stage on Friday night, at the same time as headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers. Unfortunately he had to back out on short notice due to a case of pneumonia. Schoolboy Q was tapped as a last minute replacement, and was quick to extend his apologies to the 30-40 people who showed up to watch his set. He was so apologetic, in fact, that after finishing the final verse of “Yay Yay”, he actually jumped off stage and proceeded to personally hug every single person in the crowd.

    Brittany Howard

    brittanyhowardfirefly The Top 10 Moments of Firefly Music Festival 2013

    While Kendrick Lamar’s Saturday set just prior at The Lawn Stage more than quenched everyone’s hip-hop fix, it was Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes that stole the afternoon. Draped in a long blue dress, the frontwoman’s sweet Southern bellow gave the sticky crowd a second wind after enduring the 95-degree heat all day long. Bassist Zac Cockrell, meanwhile, looked like a trucker about to start his next shift dressed in baggy overalls and a white t-shirt. This taste of Muscle Shoals fit right in next to the backwoods surroundings and swampy atmosphere. Though it was “Hold On” that proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend, they did also manage to slip a new song into their all-too short set.

    Mike Campbell’s hair

    mikecampbell2013firefly The Top 10 Moments of Firefly Music Festival 2013

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ headlining set on Saturday night brought out the best Dad dancing in all of us. As rough as the 60-year-old Petty looked, he sounded impeccable. There were none of the tell-tale symptoms of a band losing its battle with father time, like key changes to adjust for worn out vocal chords, or several back up singers to share some of the load – it was just a bunch of old dudes rocking out like it was 1979 again. Though perhaps the one puzzling thing about a set filled with straight to-the-gut classic rock gems was whatever that was sitting on top of Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell’s head. Before they even got to tracks like “Won’t Back Down” or “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, I heard the words “Zak de la Rocha” and “Captain Jack Sparrow” being thrown around among the audience. Proof yet again that as long as you’re in a band, it really doesn’t matter what you look like. Thankfully the dred-locked ax man helped deliver a thoroughly enjoyable set of radio classics that even the folks waiting for Big Gigantic’s midnight set enjoyed.