Firefly Music Festival

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This year was my first trip to Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival, and I certainly hope it won’t be my last. The experience was great, I had a great time with good friends, met some great people, and saw some great bands play. For those of you who have never been, it’s basically an Easy Coast version of Bonnaroo. You camp out over four days and take in lots of music across a bunch of huge fields. Although its a rather large scale festival, it has some intimate aspects to it that make it feel accessible in ways.

The highlight of the fest came in many shapes and forms, from the reunited Outkast, to the mega-rock sets from Arctic Monkeys, Weezer, and Foo Fighters. Local Natives proved that they are on their way up with a huge performance, and tUnE-yArDs still have me reeling with how great they were.

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Childish Gambino at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014 — with 1 comment

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The final set I caught at Firefly 2014 came from Childish Gambino, otherwise known as actor/comedian Donald Glover (Troy on Community). After Broken Bells, a wave of teenagers came shoving towards the front as if is was a matter of life and death. I contemplated sticking around, but the crowd became too intense that I determined it simply wasn’t worth being uncomfortable for the final set of a long weekend. I made my way back and watched the show from afar, still able to take things in just fine.

As a rapper Gambino is a completely different person to the character Glover played on Community, an alter-ego of sorts. He has a handle over his audience, who absolutely love him. The young crowd was mirroring his behavior, screaming every word right back at him. While I did enjoy the set fine enough, I am quite surprised at how big of a following – and how passionate – that he has developed. Don’t get me wrong, Gambino puts on a fun show, but I was just taken aback at just how crazy his fans got. I didn’t realize how big he has gotten.
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Broken Bells at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014 — with 3 comments

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Considering Broken Bells lineup consists of James Mercer of The Shins and super-producer Danger Mouse, I shouldn’t be surprised at how great the team is live. The fact is, they are able to convey so many different genres into one highly-addictive and enjoyable pop sound that is able to win over an audience seamlessly (as they did at Governors Ball).

Mercer was in a playful mood, as was the crowd. They urge him to chug his drink, which Mercer passed on, citing the fact that it wasn’t bear in his cup (it looked brown), and that we weren’t in Ireland. The fact that they seemed to be having a good time playing for us always makes a difference, and it ended up as one of the more enjoyable sets of the entire weekend.
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Washed Out at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014 — with 1 comment

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Washed Out have been hard at work this year touring for Paracosm, stopping by at quite a few festivals this summer. I saw the band again at Firefly, even after just seeing them a few weeks prior at Governors Ball.

The set was another reminder of how far Ernest Greene has taken this project, which he’s transferred as a personal project to a full out band. They seem to find ways to improve on each performance, making me believe that the best is yet to come. Read the rest of this entry »

Weezer at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014 — with 3 comments

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Weezer, who have a new album titled Everything Will Be Alright In The End on the way, played a midday set at Firefly that was oddly non-headlining and only an hour long. This was a questionable move on the festival’s part in my opinion, especially considering the amazing reception that the band got through their set.

The group didn’t screw around at all, delivering a greatest hits set that was everything a Weezer fan could have wanted. No new songs were played, but it was almost preferable when you get to hear songs like “My Name Is Jonas””, “Island In The Sun”, and “Say It Ain’t So.” The crowd went old school with Weezer, holding up the trademark W sign with their hands and producing a mass production of crowd-surfers. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed so many crowd-surfers at once. The peak came during “Pork and Beans”, where I simply lost count.

After “Photograph” they worked in a cover of Blur’s “Song 2” with Rivers on drums and drummer Pat Wilson handling vocal and guitar duties. This shift was reversed for the two song encore that featured what else but “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Buddy Holly.”

Weezer put on the best (and most fun) set of the entire weekend, something of an achievement, considering that they were penciled in mid-day. They deserved a late night slot where they could have played a few more songs, but hey, I can’t complain. Say what you want about their latest recorded output, but man, do they still got it live.
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NoNoNo at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014

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It seems that since I saw Swedish indie-pop outfit NoNoNo at Le Baron last fall that they’ve already made quite a name for themselves. Tomorrow they release their debut album We Are Only What We Feel.

At Firefly the band had quite a crowd at their mid-afternoon set, and it seemed like the band’s major single “Pumpin Blood” has spread in a big way. That had the sweaty crowd singing and dancing along.

I’d say it’s a rather safe bet that NoNoNo are only going to get bigger and bigger over time.
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Dan Croll at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014 — with 1 comment

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My fourth and final day at Firefly was started with a matinee set from Dan Croll. I’ve now seen Croll a few times in the past year (first at CMJ, then earlier this year at Bowery) and its always a delightful time. Croll was a good fit for an outdoor performance underneath the sun, free to let his good-vibe vocals take control of the main stage crowd. It was a good way to welcome in the day.
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Outkast at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014

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As much as it pained me to miss Outkast at Governors Ball, I found comfort in the fact that I’d be able to catch them at Firefly. Believe it or not, this actually wasn’t my first time seeing the dynamic duo. Believe it or not, I actually saw the duo back in 2002 at Giants Stadium, not that I truly appreciated it or anything.

The duo have been playing festival after festival, but showed no signs of fatigue or wear and tear. Now with the rust of their debut Coachella show much behind them, Outkast were firing on all cylanders, kicking their set off with a monstrous performance of “B.O.B.” From there it was a trip down memory lane, stretching as far back as early cuts such as “Rosa Parks” and “ATLiens” and bringing it forward with “The Way You Move”, “Ms. Jackson”, and of course, “Hey Ya”, which saw Andre 3000 bring out a bunch of young girls to dance on stage with him.
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tUnE-yArDs at Firefly Music Festival 2014

By Will Oliver, July 7th 2014

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I shamefully admit that tUnE-yArDs set at Firefly this year was my first time catching the wondrous Merrill Garbus live. Now after witnessing how brilliant and wonderful she and her band are live, I’m mad that it took me this long to see her (although I did catch the tail end of her set at Bonnaroo in 2011).

To be quite frank, there’s no one else creating the sounds that Garbus is as tUnE-yArDs. Hearing it on record is one thing, but witnessing her creation of these songs live is another. On the spot she creates loops of sounds (whether its vocals or beats created through clapping,) and then loops it over until one another until she gets the full desired result. Then you add in her backing band – along with two dancers, and you get hit with a giant collection of sounds that are simply breathtaking.

From w h o k i l l classics such as “Bizness” and “Gangsta” to the more recent delights of Nikki Nack such as “Water Fountain” and “Wait For A Minute” there wasn’t a moment where Garbus wasn’t both wowing you, and making you wonder how the hell she came up with these sounds – and how she is able to recreate it live. It’s just something you have to see to believe.

I don’t think I truly appreciated tUnE-yArDs in this fashion until I saw her live. If she’s playing a show near you anytime soon, I beg you to go. Read the rest of this entry »





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