With the weekend in the past and the Dover Woodlands shut down, the second year of Firefly is officially in the books, and there’s only more to come. After a sold out crowd of 65,000 people descended on the woods, Red Frog was able to secure the Woodlands as an exclusive venue for the next 10 years—a good sign for the future of the festival when combined with the fact that planning and ticket sales for next year have already begun. We’re gonna break it down for you after the jump, but for the TL;DR crowd: go. It’s only just starting to get good (even if my two favorite acts, The Lumineers and Earl Sweatshirt, bailed).
Day 1 brought with it 85 degree temperatures and perfect sunlight; no better way to start off the festival, really. And while the walk from campsite to festival ground was a solid twenty minutes, fairly lax rules at the speedway and a plentitude of people made it all the more enjoyable. Getting in late (as we did for most of the festival, the campground was just too much fun), we were able to catch most of Dr. Dog’s set to a packed house—which was as good as I’ve ever seen them if you’re into the indie acoustic scene—which was pretty impressive for five pm. (Sadly, I didn’t listen to my own advice and we missed Django Django due to traffic coming in the campgrounds.) After catching the beginning of Ellie Goulding’s subpar set (may have been the annoying crowd, may have been the heat), we ventured to explore the rest of the festival. The Heineken Dome—an exclusively EDM room that looked straight out of Epcot—was amazing. It was just a cold, foggy, dimly lighted dancefloor in the round jamming, for most of the time, to some sultry deep house. You really can’t go wrong with that. I was then dragged away from Public Enemy to the Main Stage to see The Avett Brothers, who were actually phenomenal live (again, for the indie acoustic crowd. Not MMIBTY friendly). I didn’t notice too much of their set, however, since the corn hole and ping pong games in the VIP tent were taking up most of our attention. But who doesn’t love some lawn games? We rushed over to the Lawn Stage immediately after to a little dose of vocally euphoric house music courtesy of Calvin Harris. I’ve seen him twice, and was about 50/50 on his abilities as a DJ (Ultra blew me away, Lollapalooza left me shrugging). He came through big time, though. Big room drops like LRAD and Epic and electro bangers like Ladi Dadi and Metropolis were bootlegged and tied up with classic Calvin hits like We Found Love and We’ll Be Coming Back as well as some tunes like In My Mind and You’ve Got The Love. He brought it all, and it showed. He probably had the highest energy level going for the crowd that day. We bounced back, again, to the Main Stage just in time for Red Hot Chili Peppers to grind away to the biggest crowd of the night. Firing out hit after hit, I’m not sure why we left but we did and headed over to the Heineken Dome for a little more dancing (we weren’t done, even after Calvin tore it down). Oddly, however, the Dome closed at ten every night and so we explored a little bit before Krewella came on to close it down. As a Krewella virgin, I always kind of thought they were just some frat-house stars. And while that may be true, they threw down just the right energy level to bring the festival to a close. Walking back, we ended the night at the silent disco at the campsite—one of the greatest parties ever, for those who haven’t experienced the beauty of dancing to music in your headphones—and called it quits.
Day two was even hotter, but that wasn’t stopping anyone. The festival was already filling up in time for Kendrick Lamar to rock the crowd to a slew of hits. It was almost hard to hear his voice as everyone sang along. The Alabama Shakes were up next and absolutely blew everyone away—fans and strangers alike. Afterwards, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes treated everyone to maybe the best song of the weekend, as their hit “Home” was turned into an 8 minute ballad that included Sharpe hopping into the crowd to hear stories from people. Checking out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for a hot minute, we were quick to get to Manufactured Superstars, who gave everyone on the smallest stage just what they wanted—pop infused house music. The crowd started off tiny but grew to rival some of the bigger stages as the set got bigger and bigger, including even their own electroed out remix of Get Lucky. Moving onto Azealia Banks (and the best set of the weekend), we were forced to skip MGMT as each song just got better and better as she stomped around stage like a young Lil Kim. Ending with 212, we couldn’t help but realize we had a new favorite rapper. Tom Petty was nothing to write home about, but as the night finished up and we headed to Big Gigantic, the crowd at White Panda drew us in. And as much as I think mash-ups are nothing to love, their energy level was over the top and we stayed and had a blast dancing to top-40 dance hits (my personal favorite was a bootleg of Summer of ‘69 and Million Voices).
Day three was just a big struggle fest, but that didn’t stop it from being the best of the weekend. We started late, arriving for Passion Pit’s high energy set that ended early due to vocal concerns, but that didn’t kill us. We moved over to Vampire Weekend who have seriously grown as live musicians since my last concert of theirs. They had the entire crowd singing along to even new hits, and their banter was simply cool. Sadly, we had to leave for Zedd, who may have been in the top three for the weekend. Nothing but hits got played as he rolled through the “Clarity” and even got a little dubby and trappy as he played his Internet Friends-Niggas In Paris bootleg into the Harlem Shake. Glowsticks flew as everyone soaked up the last dance party of the festival. Instead of finishing with Foster The People, however, we decided to hit up the wooded silent disco to dance the end of a phenomenal weekend away.