The first-annual Firefly Music Festival kicked off July 20th-22nd in the woodlands of Dover, Delaware. Boasting big numbers and big names, the festival featured the kind of multi-genre variety that music enthusiasts love. Over the course of three days, appearances ranged from Death Cab For Cutie and Chiddy Bang to Michael Franti and Spearhead. Acts like Grouplove, Tinnie Tempah, Fitz and the Tantrums, Young the Giant, Allen Stone and Walk the Moon brought more variety and originality to the scene. Fans from all over attended to see headliner acts Jack White, the Killers and the Black Keys.
The festivities began Friday afternoon, and the crowds grew just as quickly as the energy. Just a few hours later when the upbeat tunes of OK GO hit the stage, the crowd had nearly doubled. It only built from there, with Bassnectar’s bright lights backdrops and electronic jams leading into Jack White’s hit-packed bass-heavy set, which grouped new songs like Love Interruption with legendary White Stripes songs like Seven Nation Army. Saturday amassed more of everything: a reggae sampling by Michael Franti and Spearhead, followed by the dance-inspiring indie beats of Grouplove. Later, Modest Mouse and Lupe Fiasco rallied fans before the ultimate set of the evening. The Killers wowed everyone with rocking numerous “Hot Fuss” greats accompanied by a pyrotechnics spectacular. The festival ended with a bang. Beloved band appearances included Reptar, Bombay Bicycle Club and the Cold War Kids. Despite being under the weather, Benjamin Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie captivated and mesmerized a massive crowd. To the delight of all — especially tried and true garage-rock fans — The Black Keys took down the forest as the final act of the Firefly Music Festival.
As for fashion, the musicians set the stage, while fans emulated and elaborated. Stand-out selections included Grouplove singer Christian Zucconi’s Sgt. Pepper-like military jacket and bandmate Hannah Hooper’s fitted lace prairie dress; the Urban face-painted aesthetic of Walk the Moon; the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne’s animal fur; the modern-day Warhol hair and stripes of Michael Fitzpatrick (from Fitz and the Tantrums) and the trademark all-black plus fedora appearance of Jack White. It’s worth mentioning that White mixed-it-up and took off his shoes when faced with mid-set rain, but it was the onlookers who took fashion several steps further (and in various directions). Animal furs were upstaged by animal hats and suits amongst neon maxi skirts, repro Native American headdresses, ammo jewelry, grunge-era Doc’s, floral prints and big flowers, classic rock tees and layers upon layers of body paint.
Festival gear was a hit — proving to be popular across the entire spectrum of festival participants and tastes. Firefly tanks were gone by day three, but hoodie zip-ups and v-necks were available in earth tones and greens throughout the festival. Band shirts were also popular and plentiful as were commemorative custom TOM’s. For many music fans capturing festival fashion was the most fun. The festival’s flipbook photo station sent countless attendees home with nifty little video-turned-albums.
It was definitely a sight to see and a place to be seen — where you could dress like a rockstar and party like one too. Some festival-goers were more rowdy than others. By day the wooded, rural landscape cultivated a chill energy: wide open spaces with four stages (the Porch, Lawn, Backyard and Firefly), hot-air balloon rides, make-shift swing-sets, a hammock hangout, an arcade, wine bars, booze stations and lemonade stands. Of course, there were great and many food options. By night, the colors changed. The forest adjoining the “porch” and the “backyard” lit up in turqouise, lime, lilac and yellow; and screaming fans came out of the woodwork. By 9:30 each night all made the pilgrimage to the Firefly stage (hyped on Bassnectar or Lupe Fiasco or Girl Talk) where rock icons Jack White, The Killers and The Black Keys ruled. At the end of each day, an audience brought together by their love for music and lack of space migrated off the grounds like the buffalo of the Serengetti.
For better or worse, the festival stayed true to its tree-hugging spirit. Through Firefly’s partnership with the Green Mountain Energy Company, the festival offered higher-value tickets to attendees interested in offsetting their carbon footprint. Additionally, green goals of waste minimization were supported by the installation of recycling and compost bins, as well as refill-your-own-water-bottle stations. In following these initiatives, many campers (residing over the hill and through the woods) roughed it with little resources. As you might imagine, by Sunday, the festival grounds and goers smelled nothing like Teen Spirit.
In all, Firefly Music Festival 2012 was an event to remember and not to be missed. It was just as much fun for the 40-something CAKE fans as it was for the teenage dreamers and weekend warriors. Take our word for it and reserve your 2013 pre-sale tickets, currently on sale at FireFlyFestival.com. — Dale Padelford / Photographed by Giana DeYoung
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