Firefly Music Festival 2014: Four Dirty Days in Dover

Published On June 25, 2014 | Concerts
Firefly Music Festival expanded to four days in 2014. Fans flocked from all over the country (and beyond) to catch over 100 acts perform on seven different stages at the Woodlands in Dover, Delaware.

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One of the east coast’s largest music festivals, Firefly has almost doubled in size since 2012 when 40,000 attendees rocked out at the inaugural event. In 2014, Firefly unveiled a new layout to the festival, moving the main stage to a new location to allow for less congestion while viewing the big ticket acts. However, with 70,000+ fans on hand this year, there was still a good deal of overcrowding at all of the stages during many of the most popular performances. It wasn’t as bad as it was last year but there is definitely still room for some improvement in 2015.

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Firefly kicked off on Thursday with a slew of performances on three stages from 545pm until midnight. These were highlighted by Amos Lee, RAC, and Local Natives. We sat down with Local Natives before the festival gates opened at 5pm. Here’s what they had to say:
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Friday was the first full day of music across all stages. We began our day by sitting down with the guys from New Politics. Catch that here:
From there, we bounced around a lot, getting a feel for the new layout of Firefly. The sets we enjoyed the most were Kongos, Bleachers, New Politics, Portugal. The Man, Arctic Monkeys, Young The Giant, Band of Horses, Girl Talk, and headliner, Foo Fighters.
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The Foo Fighters sixteen song set (which opened with “Times Like These”) was simply magical and when it ended, the band returned for a five song encore as alter-ego, bar cover-band, “The Holy Shits” (with drummer Taylor Hawkins taking lead vocals on many of them). After covering four classic rock hits (“School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, “Miss You” by The Rolling Stones, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” by Van Halen, and “Under Pressure” by Queen & David Bowie) the band finished off the performance with their own hit, “Everlong”. Girl Talk closed out the night with his late night party set on The Backyard Stage.
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Saturday boasted the most bands and the largest crowd of the four days. With no interviews on tap, we spent the entire day moving from stage to stage, catching numerous performances by Bad Things (snowboarder Shawn White’s band), Twenty One Pilots, Royal Teeth, Third Eye Blind, MSMR, Grouplove (once on Main Stage, once at the Coffee House), Cage The Elephant, Imagine Dragons, Tegan & Sara, Beck, White Panda, Pretty Lights, and Outkast.
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Outkast’s headlining set was perhaps the most anticipated performance of Firefly and the recently reunited Atlanta duo did not disappoint. Opening the show with a bang, “Bombs Over Baghdad”, the duo played an incredible 24 songs. With no other stages competing during Outkast, they drew the largest crowd of the weekend (in our estimation) as they blazed through hits like “Rosa Parks”, “Ms.  Jackson”, “Hey Ya!”, and “So Fresh, So Clean”, before wrapping up with “The Whole World”. Pretty Lights late night set on The Backyard stage featured his signature laser show and beautiful beats while The White Panda gave mash-up fans something to get them over their Girl Talk withdrawal from Friday night.
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On Sunday we sat down with the fellas from Big Gigantic (for the second time, the first coming at Ultra Music Festival in 2012) for a quick interview. Dive in:
Once that wrapped, we caught Jake Bugg, Weezer (which was one of our personal highlights at Firefly), Ziggy Marley, G Easy, The Lumineers, Cherub, Phantogram, Martin Garrix, Jack Johnson, and Big Gigantic. Jack Johnson and Big Gigantic played for somewhat smaller crowds than those on Friday and Saturday as it seemed many people packed up and left a little early on Sunday. On the whole, the performances, as always, were stellar at Firefly Music Festival in 2014. No matter what your particular cup of musical tea is, there was plenty to drink in.
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In addition to the great performances by the individual bands/artists, the pop-up collaborations always make Firefly a real treat. This year the Lumineers appeared with Jack Johnson, Cage the Elephant appeared with Imagine Dragons, and Big Gigantic appeared with Pretty Lights, just to name a few.

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Whether fans commuted to the festival for a single day, daily, or camped out in a tent or RV for the entirety of the festival, there was no shortage of things to see and do on site. When not watching a big stage performance, attendees could relax in the Hammock Hangout, knock back some craft brews in the Brewery, play video games, dance in the Silent Disco in The Thicket, shop for custom wares in The Marketplace, frolic in glowing forest installations, grab a coffee and watch a more intimate performance at the Coffee House (where some bigger bands like Iron & Wine and Grouplove also performed), or stuff their faces with any number of tasty things to eat. The food choices were many and ranged from healthy vegan kale salads to deep fried macaroni and cheese bites filled with hotdogs or bacon cheeseburger. If you happened to have VIP or Super VIP access, you had even more options for drinks, food, and activities.

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The campground hubs each had a smaller stage cultivated by Redbull artists, showers, food trucks, Walgreens, toilets, recharging stations, and places to purchase ice. The individual campsites got a little gross towards the end of the weekend. Some people need to take better responsibility and clean up after themselves (your mom probably wasn’t there to do it for you).  There were problems in the campsites again this year as well. The lines for the showers often extended for well over an hour, bathroom lines were entirely too long in the morning (when it’s often not easy to hold it with a full bladder), and on several occasions we heard complaints that the ice stations were out of ice.

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Overall the weather was favorable this year. There weren’t any large downpours or bouts of extreme heat or humidity. Perhaps a little more rain would have helped to keep the dirt issue in check. A good deal of dirt was kicked up into the air each day, forming large clouds that could easily be seen all around the grounds. At a minimum, all of the cars, tents, people (both in the campgrounds and inside the festival) and pretty much everything else was covered in a layer of dirt. In some cases this irritated fans eyes and lungs.
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With many concert goers also longing to see the U.S. World Cup match on Sunday, the game was played on a giant screen on the Main Stage. This was a special moment as a see of fans took a break from music for a few hours to come together and cheer for the USA. The game was also shown on TVs at bars inside the festival and in the camping ground hubs. Thank you to the folks from Chevy who provided us with a 2014 Chevy Impala to drive to Firefly Festival. With its Bose sound system, power moon roof, air conditioned seats, and plenty of outlets to recharge our cameras and phones, it made camping a breeze!
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Firefly has already announced the dates for the 2015 festival which will take place from June 18-21st of next year.

[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

[Article and interviews by David J. Miller]

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