Music festivals are weird – really awesome, but weird. People come together to listen to all kinds of genres & artists while wandering around in little to no clothing armed with at least one of the following: beer, a hula hoop, a flower crown, or some sort of flag. This combination leads a lot of people to dislike festivals, but me? NOPE, I love it. I love seeing what people wear when they know they can wear anything (which sometimes means nothing.) I love watching people dance without worrying about how they look or how sweaty they get. All around, festivals create an atmosphere that takes you away from reality and lets you step into a giant party.
Thursday night was slow and easy, the first day of the festival started later in the day so we had time to get a camp site set up. Darkness started to settle over the festival during Amos Lee, one of the last three sets if the day. As the Philly native sang the sky filled up with stars, and I know it sounds cheesy but I have never felt so comforted as in that moment. Music is so much better when you are listening to it outside, it surrounds you in a different way. Every night that feeling got bigger and better, Foo Fighters, Outkast, JohnnySwim, Jack Johnson, Childish Gambino – every one was made even more impactful by the night sky. Even better was seeing DJs Cash Cash and Pretty Lights, talk about light shows.
Another awesome part of the weekend was the Red Bull Sound Select stage. Located in each of the two Hub’s, the stage was an awesome spot to see up-and-coming talent without the crazy crowds inside the festival. One band that really stood out were the Tontons. The Texas-based group has been getting major support from their native state for a few years now, and after seeing them I totally understand why. Lead singer, Asli Omar performs with slow, calculated movements that mesmerize everyone watching. Definitely a group to keep on your radar.
With seven stages inside Firefly, it’s hard to go in knowing every band on the lineup. One of the coolest parts of being at a giant festival is finding new-to-you music and the timing of Firefly means you leave with a new list of summer jams. Some of my favorite discoveries from the weekend are GhostBeach, JohnnySwim, Cash Cash, Gemini Club and the Nonono’s. I also got a chance to get to know music from some bands that I had listened to in passing but will now have on steady rotation like Boy & Bear, Sir Sly, Bad Things & Royal Teeth.
When you see bands perform live you get a window into the artists’ personalities, which is cool because it puts the music you are listening to into context. Watching Royal Teeth, I saw people who really loved what they were doing. Singer, Gary Larsen, looked so unbelievably happy on that stage and it was clear his positive energy was carried through the crowd. Talent is one thing, but when you see talent combined with passion it makes all the lines to fill your water bottle or use a port-o-potty 100% worth it.
All the good music surrounds you, but it’s made better by the atmosphere of the festival grounds. The installations of hammock filled forests, silent discos, giant lights shaped like dandelions and trees filled with falling stars/fireflies make the whole place feel like magic. Aside from the magic, there is the dirt. Dirt that gets in your ears, in your finger nails, up your nose…you get the idea. One swipe of a wet wipe and you change the towlette from white to brown. But hey, a festival wouldn’t be a festival without the slow build up of a dirt tan around your sandal lines.
After four days, Firefly felt like home. Coming back to Philly was a weird feeling, so here’s looking to next year – start the Firefly countdown.