Words By Adrianna Hilborn – Photos by David Turcotte & Timothy Becker
This past weekend brought one of the most anticipated festivals of the summer to Dover, DE. In its second year, Firefly Music Festival has grown, expanded its offerings, and doubled in attendance from last year. Three full days of music from rising bands along with some of rock’s biggest names like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jim James, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, and Foster The People made this festival great.
With four stages of non-stop music it was impossible to see it all, but I sure had fun trying! Friday started off with a soulful set from J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound, followed by Delaware’s own Spinto Band, playing their quirky pop to a good crowd full of local followers and family, with singer/bassist Tom Hughes wishing his Dad a Happy Birthday from stage.
My surprise favorite of the day was Django Django. They began with some cricket chirp and frog croak sounds that transformed into a pounding drum beat. Knowing only their hit “Default,” I was really impressed by their percussive sound and fantastic energy. These Brit musicians make surprisingly tribal music; like the soundtrack to a jungle adventure.
Atlas Genius has been doing a kick ass job of spreading their wings and gracing the world with their tunes. They have been on TSI’s radar for a while and get an update from them just about every week. It’s hard work and a great sound that got them this far and they have proven they are here to stay with an amazing set to keep the crowd going at Firefly.
Of course I had to see Philly favorite Dr. Dog whose sweet harmonies make for perfect festival music. Dr. Dog had lots of fans in the audience, as you would expect being so close to home.
Ahhh the many faces of Ellie Goulding. A Mid-evening performance by this 26 year old firecracker kept the entire crowd going. Playing a 6 song set, Ellie performed a great mix of slow and upbeat songs to show both her talent and diversity as a performer. Ending with “Starry Eyed” and “Lights” left the crowd on thier feet with hands in the air just begging for more. Good times had by all!
Next, I checked out the psychedelic freak rock sounds of Foxygen. The wacky antics of frontman Sam France were entertaining, however his climbing over everything on stage, sporadic facial expressions, and wrapping the microphone cord around his neck like a noose were a distraction from the music, in my opinion.
Public Enemy & Avett Brothers
I chose to see The Avett Brothers while David, our Photographer headed over to Public Enemy in the 7:15 time slot, which was a tough choice but I just love those folky, bluegrass boys. The sun was starting to go down, and the Avetts were a crowd pleaser. Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers joined on drums for a hard-hitting version of “Paul Newman vs. The Demons.” The Avett Brothers can rock surprisingly hard for folkies, with Seth Avett even crowd surfing at the end of their set.
Hearing so much hype from other festival goers about Calvin Harris, I decided that I needed to check him out. His DJ set was non-stop dance beats and pulsating lights. It was a complete 180 from everything I had heard all day, and it was a welcome change. It felt like a dance club broke out right in the middle of a grassy field, and it was incredibly fun!
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Headlining Friday night were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and fans packed the main stage tight to see them perform lots of their newer favorites like “Dani California,” “Otherside,” and “Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” RHCP turned Firefly into a full-blown rock concert with fans singing along to every song. They sounded incredible, and when they played “Under The Bridge” it reminded me of how when I was a kid, I waited for that song to come on so that I could tape it off the radio. Their encore included “Sir Psycho Sexy” and “Give It Away.”