Firefly, the east coast’s largest annual camping and music festival, hosted it’s eighth iteration June 21-23 at The Woodlands in Dover, DE.
This year’s Firefly Music Festival was arguably the best version to date! With a diverse lineup headlined by Post Malone, Travis Scott and Panic! At The Disco and featuring genre spanning acts such as Kygo, Vampire Weekend, The Knocks, MAX, Death Cab for Cutie and many others, there was certainly a performance for everybody in attendance. Organizers spared no expense by investing over $4 million in upgrades to the facilities this year, including the North Hub Beach Club which is an immersive experience complete with a stage on the sand, beach volleyball, water slides, cabanas, and a permanent shower area to spruce up in. It was located off of The Great Atlantic Campout, a new large camping area located in the northern nook of The Woodlands, offering campers premiere access to the festival as well as the Beach Club and North Hub Silent Disco. Also new this year was the Bazaar where shoppers could pick up fun and unique gifts or take in variety acts of music, dating, or comedy in The Roost, a barn-converted stage with a specialty cocktail lounge. No festival can survive purely off fancy upgrades, it takes an all-star lineup bringing the goods for a festival to be a success. By that measure Firefly would prove to be a smashing hit.
Ekali kicked things off Friday with a great DJ set featuring visuals from across the globe. Los Angeles’ own AWOLNATION brought their hard rocking alternative style to The Lawn stage at the delight of their fans. Tyler, the Creator channeled the spirit of David Bowie by performing in a vibrant suit and wig and later refused to return a bra thrown at him from a now topless woman while uttering, “You make bad life decisions.” Meanwhile the band Arkells brought the party off the stage by leading a conga line through the crowd. PanicI At The Disco dazzled a captive audience with their big band sounds and from the charisma and talent oozing from their lead singer, Brendon Urie. Most surprising performance of the evening came from The Knocks, who have a sound and style similar to The Floozies and Big Gigantic in that they are a live funk/jazz band mixed with electronic tracks. Louis the Child and ZEDD both had stellar EDM sets at The Prism stage, with the latter closing out the night by punctuating his love for Firefly with a massive fireworks display.
Saturday was a long day in the best way, chock full of performances from well known artists across every stage. Alt rock fans were treated to shows from Dashboard Confessional, Death Cab for Cutie, and Passion Pit. Electronic dance music fans had a bevvy of options to choose from; Alison Wonderland and Kygo(feat. guest Valerie Broussard)put on incredible sets as to be expected, The White Panda made his sixth Firefly appearance (on his birthday no less) showcasing his brilliant high paced mashups and remixes, and young up-and-comer PLS&TY performed to a large crowd at the more intimate Toyota Music Den, proving he’s an act to look out for. Speaking of relatively young acts, MAX played early in the day, wowing the audience with his hit singles “Lights Down Low” and “Love Me Less (feat. Quinn XCII)” who made a guest appearance for the track. Standout performance of Saturday has to go to Lee Fields and the Expressions, who brought the classic sounds of soul and R&B to The Roost, filling the room with love and good vibes. Lee Fields‘ track “All I Need” is sampled in the song “Antidote” by Saturday’s headliner, Travis Scott. Unfortunately, not everything in life can be perfect, and Travis Scott proved that by only playing about half his allotted set time. What he did play had the massive crowd hype, but that quickly faded to confusion and disappointment as throngs of people wandered about to the next stage like shell shocked zombies. Matoma got things started at noon Sunday at the Beach Club, his fun kicked back Norwegian vibe being the perfect accent to the stage. Later in the day 3LAU, a Vegas-based DJ, closed out his set with two tracks making their debut live performance. The first, “Down For Life” that just dropped last Friday, is another collaboration with Bright Lights (they teamed up for the 2014 smash hit “How You Love Me”) and the second is a track to be released in August. GRiZ had an impromptu musical group therapy session, having as many as 6 guest singers and instrumentalists performing songs with him, a particularly impressive set for the always powerful “future-funk” artist. Rap fans reaped the rewards of the day in the form of two incredible performances by Gucci Mane and Post Malone. The crowd was buzzing after ten minutes of a hype man sesh before Gucci Mane came out and laid down a set that got better by the track. Those vibes certainly carried over to the Firefly stage where Post Malone threw a fire party as the final headlining act, performing hits such as “White Iverson”, “Sunflower”, and “Better Now”.
If that wasn’t enough, Nora En Pure brought her set of beautiful melodic trance electronica to the Treehouse, a quaint stage tucked backed into the woods, that was so undeniable it had security guards grooving. DJ Snake officially closed the weekend at The Prism stage, and those who had managed to soldier through the long festival were gifted with an incredible set filled with dance hits to “Turn Down For What”. It’ll be hard to top the quality of entertainment that Firefly offered this past weekend, but this festival has continued to improve year after year and has proven why it’s a can’t miss event each summer. Can’t wait until next year at The Woodlands!