Firefly Music Festival 2016

This weekend music fans from all over the nation packed up their cars and traveled however many miles it took to the small state of Delaware where the experience and lineup of a lifetime was patiently waiting for them. Firefly Music Festival took place in the Woodlands of Dover and boasted a lineup of talent from every decade you can imagine. Attendees began to arrive on Wednesday and by the time Thursday afternoon rolled around the campgrounds were covered with a diverse range of music lovers ready to get inside the gates. For those of us who were lucky enough to arrive on Wednesday, the premium camping hub had music going starting around 7pm or so. The highlight of our early night was the Canadian band Arkells throwing down a set of classics including music from Stevie Wonder, Hall & Oates, and Bruce Springsteen. We ended the night early and got lots of rest to prepare for the rest of the weekend ahead.

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Waking up Thursday morning we were welcomed with a rain storm that left anything and everything in camp soaking wet. Spirits were tested, but not faltered, and by the early afternoon, the rain had stopped and things were on schedule as usual. Towels, tents, and much more were hung over cars, and the lack of heat provided a cool relaxing breeze for attendees to enjoy. With music being more scarce on Thursday than the rest of the weekend, the campgrounds was again the place to be. However, once the sun began to set, there was no lack of musical talent filling the stages. Highlights of Thursday schedule were Robert Delong and Two Door Cinema Club, who put on performances that went down as some of the best of the weekend. We grooved our way into the night, and got the chance to explore the grounds of the festival as well. This was one of the parts of the experience we didn’t like, the size of the grounds. Stages and vendors were so incredibly spread out that without perfect planning, you could completely miss one of your favorite acts. It was a challenge to trek up and down the grounds all weekend, and our legs are definitely feeling it today.

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While Friday was supposed to be filled with rain as well, waking up to the surprise of sunshine was a nice way to kickstart the first full day of music. We headed in early today, taking little time to hangout around camp. Friday was the first day we got to experience many of the smaller stages that we had not checked out the night before. The treehouse stage and the coffeehouse came to be our homes for a lot of the weekend, boasting small but extremely talented names that we luckily became exposed to. Our favorite small set of the dat was by a group from San Francisco entitled Finish Ticket, who played an all acoustic set of their heavier rock sound. Tucked away in the trees at the treehouse stage, the vibes worked perfectly for the special set and we left with smiles on our faces to enjoy the rest of the night. Bigger acts who impressed us included Saint Motel, Rufus Du Sol, and Kings of Leon, who’s original sounds filled our hearts with happiness and joy. Friday was filled with dancing and laughter as we embraced the warm weather. Overall, the best acts from Friday were dominated by the flourishing genre of EDM. Porter Robinson and Disclosure were featured on Friday night, and both acts blew away the masses that camped out to see them. It was wonderful to see attendees who don’t normally listen to dance music, really get to know and love the acts they were seeing. Porter Robinson took us on an emotional journey through his mind, and disclosure inspired our dancing shoes in ways we had never experienced, and we were extremely grateful to have them at the festival. The campgrounds partied until the sun came up, and then took the opportunity for at least a little sleep in order to recharge for Saturday.

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Saturday came and the sun beat down on the many exhausted and drained attendees. While the music on Saturday was good, many stayed back at camp until night fell so they could rally through the final day on Sunday. Many snoozed in their cars and hammocks and took the day to eat as much as they could. The highlight of Saturday also happened to be the best set of the weekend in our opinion, and it came from Deadmau5. Mau5, AKA Joel Zimmerman, took Firefly through a mix of genres, BPM’s, and emotional experiences that left the entirety of the festival begging for more. The thing about Deadmau5 is that his musical presence is generally one that takes a little getting used to. A large stereotype surrounding electronic music is that it’s all very energetic and always provide for a crazy party setting. With Zimmerman however, the experience is more of one to enjoy and get sucked into, rather than to party to. For many in the crowd who had never experienced Deadmua5, the beginning of the set was fairly underwhelming, but rather than being a problem coming from Mau5, it was just their musical tastebuds getting used to something they were not expecting. By the end of the set the crowd was in sync and had fallen in love with one of dance music’s most talented artists. With many planning to leave the festival on Sunday night after music ended, Saturday night became the last chance to spend time with neighbors at the campsite who over the weekend had now become friends. Music from campsites all around bumped all night, and sleeping was not a priority. The friendships made at Firefly are ones we hope last forever, and those friendships were solidified on Saturday night into early Saturday morning.

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Sunday arrived and the sense of sadness surrounding attendees was all too real. When it came down to it, there wasn’t a single person left at the festival who didn’t want to be there. While we all knew that Sunday night would be the end of this journey, we rallied ourselves to make it the best day of the weekend. It would be hard to top Deadmau5’s set from the night before, but there was a large array of talent waiting inside the gates. The day kicked off early with a performance by electric funk singer Gibbz who stole our hearts with his high pitched angelic voice and ecstatic stage presence. Dancing our butts off so early in the day only convinced us more that this day would be the best of them all. The sun was extremely strong on Sunday, which made for another obstacle in our travels. However, with water stations conveniently located around the gigantic grounds, we were able to stay fairly hydrated. After Gibbz, the next section of the day was dominated by bands who have already proved to members of the musical hall of fame. Blink 182 and Earth, Wind, and Fire, blessed our ears with their wildly different sounds, yet the feelings surrounding their sets were eerily similar. Fans from all generations gathered to see them play, and it was rare to see someone in the crowd who didn’t know the lyrics to every song. Both acts were generational superstars and told the story of their own individual decades in which they were popular, and that feeling of temporarily enjoying the past made the early evening of Sunday so special. Sunday night was dominated by British rock band Mumford and Sons, who created an atmosphere of pure appreciation during their set. Everyone from die hard fans to first time experiencers felt as if they knew this band from the first time they wrote a song together. It could not have been a better way to end the weekend.

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Leaving Firefly Music Festival was a sad experience, but the experiences and music we enjoyed throughout the weekend reminded us how diverse the music world is, and how it’s hard to not love it all. While the size of the festival was a big issue, the lack of problems on the technical lighting and sound side were huge pros. We look forward to the lineup for next year, and know that Firefly will not disappoint us.

[Photo credit: aLive Coverage & Theo Wargo for Getty Images]

[Article by Adam Leopold]

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