Led by feminist activist and vocalist Emma Goldman, Downtown Boys is a hard-hitting punk-rock group hailing from Providence, Rhode Island. The group controls the stage tonight at Underground Arts for the next stop on tour in support of its 2017 record Cost of Living, released this summer on Sub Pop. Listen to it below and check out the show by picking up tickets here. Continue reading →
It was only two years ago that Sarah Grace McLaughlin — the Scotland-born, nomadically-raised modern rock singer and songwriter better known as Bishop Briggs — was living in Los Angeles, hustling for gigs at any venue that’d give her a space to play. And then “River” happened.
Released in January of 2016, the earworm single was an instantly captivating blend of sinister, simmering electronic rock, with an undercurrent of retro soul and R&B, tied together by a powerful vocal delivery from the then-23 year old Bishop. The single crawled its way up the modern rock charts and got something of a second life this past summer, when her self-titled debut EP was released on Island Records. Her set at the main stage of Dover, Delaware’s Firefly Festival this summer was gripping on a sweltering June afternoon; her pop-up performance in the shade of the festival’s Treehouse stage was even better.
This fall, Bishop returned with her latest single, “Dream,” a hugely uplifting gospel anthem with a lyrical dark side; it’s been slaying on her fall tour. This Thursday night, Bishop plays the main stage of The Fillmore, opening up for Bleachers, but when I caught up with her via phone, she was pulling in to Toronto’s almost-certainly haunted Massey Hall, getting ready to open for Alt-J. “It’s been insane, it’s a dream come true,” an effusively positive Bishop says at the top of our chat. “I love Alt-J so much, I love seeing them every single night. They’re unwaveringly good and consistent.”
Our conversation from there touched on collaboration, knowing one’s limitations, the slow-and-steady release strategy, and the influence of place on the creative mind.
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Day Three of the Firefly Music Festival brought out superstar performances from Bob Dylan, Chance The Rapper, and The Weeknd, but it also brought out some of Philly’s finest including Mondo Cozmo, Chill Moody, Hardwork Movement, Vita and the Woolf, and a DJ set from the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff. Some great sets by Bishop Briggs, Sunflower Bean, and Kesha. Continue reading →
Doylestown native Anthony Green headlines Union Transfer tonight. He’s on a solo tour in support of his latest Pixie Queen LP, which explores his marriage and family life with an honesty we’ve come to expect from the Circa Survive frontman. Watch “You’ll Be Fine” below and pick up tickets for the all-ages show here.
If day one of the Firefly Music Festival was a great experience discovering new artists, day two was time for adjusting expectations. While there were plenty of highlights, some artists that have been talked up as the next big thing did not exactly deliver, while others performed strongly but were slotted on stages and at times that didn’t work. Continue reading →
When it comes to the biggest bands on the bill, Firefly makes things easy — the higher-profile the artist, the fewer people the festival books playing opposite them. It’s at the more emerging artist level that things get all feeding frenzy, and that’s where we come in.
Walking around the greenery of the woodlands and seeing an artist we were only loosely familiar with beforehand playing an intimate set to a tight crowd of devotees — the people who prefer to get up, go out, and seek out music, rather than listen to whatever’s happening off in the distance at the big stage — is our favorite part of the Firefly experience. Last year, we saw Jade Bird play a tent to maybe 50 people; the previous year, Bishop Briggs delivered a killer set in the tucked-away Treehouse Stage. Both artists are doing pretty well for themselves now.
That’s not to say that every under-the-radar musician on the Firefly lineup is going to blow up in the same way. (Or that every artist playing intimate stages or early set times is necessarily under-the-radar: our love for Philly’s Hop Along is well-documented, and they play two sets on Sunday afternoon.) But not knowing where an artist is headed, and appreciating them for what they bring to their 45 minutes onstage, is an exciting discovery in itself. Here are 20 artists we urge you to discover at the 2019 edition of Firefly.
Dover, Delaware’s annual Firefly Music Festival kicks off this Thursday, and will jam-pack some 130-plus artists into four days. For a few of those artists, like headliners Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, it’s safe to say that most of the tens of thousands in attendance will be watching. For several of the artists — electropop duo Marian Hill, alternative vets Jimmy Eat World, Alaskan modern rockers Portugal. The Man, 90s R&B hitmaker Warren G — the crowds will be be reliably huge.
But for many of the acts on the bill, the audience might be less automatically robust. It might take a little bit of discovering to see them, and these are often times the most thrilling sets to catch. In the past, this has meant Bishop Briggs playing the intimate confines of the treehouse stage, or Laura Stevenson rocking the Toyota Music Den; it’s been the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff spinning the hits on a sunny midday, or singer-songwriter Hamilton Leithauser at the Coffeehouse Stage; it’s been rapper Pell rocking a Porch Stage set in the twilight, or Maggie Rogers starting the day off at the Lawn Stage at 1 p.m.
In short, it’s established names in much smaller settings than we expect, or unfamiliar names that we go on to remember. This year, we present you an assortment of artists to discover at all tiers of Firefly 2018 — from newcomers like Cali punks The Regrettes and Philly rapper Tierra Whack each playing two sets on Friday, all the way to acclaimed jazz visionary Kamasi Washington taking to the festival main stage on Sunday. Listen up, pack your sunscreen, stay hydrated, and get ready to explore. – John Vettese
Important thing to remember this festival season: a fifty percent chance of rain is also a fifty percent chance of no rain. It could be a fifty percent chance of scorching sun and dry heat. Reality might not line up with your anticipations, and the best approach is to be prepared for anything and expect the unexpected.
This is something that came up at several intervals last weekend at Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival; I went in expecting to get soaked and instead I got sunburnt, I’d read media murmurs about diminished attendance but found it positively jumpin on Saturday; I thought (from experience at XPNFest a few years back) that Bob Dylan was going to to be insufferable and sad, and he was actually mostly very good — the best thing we can hope for with a Dylan set in 2017, honestly — closing his nearly 90-minute performance with a ripping “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Continue reading →
Our ears are still ringing from this weekend’s tremendously fun excursion at Firefly 2017. A review is coming later this week, but for today, we bring you photos from our final day in the Woodlands of Dover, Delaware…from Busta Rhymes kicking off the day to Philly faves Hardwork Movement in the campground, Hamilton Leithauser soldiering through string breakage on the main stage and Bishop Briggs playing a dynamic set on the festival’s Treehouse stage, dueling stints from top-form indie rockers The Shins and the always-compelling electro rock royalty Phantogram, and an over-the-top energized closing set from Muse. Continue reading →