By

Beck was off the hook at Firefly and I can’t believe he’s playing #xpnfest

Beck1
Beck at Firefly | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

A month from today, I’ll be at the Susquehanna Bank Center on a (hopefully) crisp and breezy summer evening, and the stage just down the way will be populated by a handful of musicians fronted by the one and only Beck.

I was massively excited when we announced the eclectic modern-rock songwriter as one of the XPoNential Music Festival headliners, but like many of you, I was a bit uncertain. What kind of Beck would we get with this show? His last release was an unrecorded songbook that other musicians were welcome to perform in their own chamber-rock groups. His current release is the introspective and hushed Morning Phase. Would the XPNFest bring Beck backed by a band? Would it be a sad-man band or snappy party crew? He’s a knockout performer no matter the tone of the setlist – a very varied 2006 show at the Tower proved that – but something about an outdoor festival setting seems to beg for the livelier side of the catalog. Is that what we were getting?

Beck at Firefly | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Beck and his band at Firefly | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Beck’s performance last weekend at the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware assuaged my fears. The big and bright Saturday night set, played to a crowd of thousands clamored around the Lawn Stage of the festival, was more celebratory than somber. It pulled selections from across the breadth of his catalog – 90s slacker rock intertwined with aughties postmodern funk, hip-hop beats cut into overblown punk. And the quiet side of his catalog wasn’t ignored either – “Blue Moon,” the sublime single from Phase, made an appearance alongside Sea Change‘s shuffling “Lost Cause”; the bluesy harmonica stomp of “One Foot in the Grave” showed up as well.

Those songs were great to hear, but the energy of other selections was staggering. Rousing opener “Devil’s Haircut” got things off to a punchy start, the iconic “Loser” dropped early on in the setlist, “Sexx Laws” was delightful and the off-the-hook energy of “E-Pro” was unreal. Clad in a button down shirt, suit jacket and stylish fedora, Beck leaped gleefully in the air, brandishing a guitar and mugging with his five-piece band while thousands of LED lights twinkled behind them in a psychedelic display.

Elsewhere he crooned, and danced – showed he’s still adept at doing the robot, to be specific – and dropped a sweet cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” By the closing notes of “Where It’s At” and the subsequent bows, I was dazed and collecting pieces my brain from all across this unassuming field in Kent County.

“I can’t believe he’s playing our festival,” I kept repeating to myself. And granted, we may have a completely different Beck. He may be in quiet Sunday night mode, or he might stretch the scope of his set even further given his headliner slot. One thing’s for certain – it’s going to be an outstanding show.

Weekend passes for the XPoNential Music Festival can be picked up here; single-night tix for the Beck performance can be found here. To get a taste of the possible eclecticism in store, listen to our career-spanning Beck Spotify playlist here. And check out some videos and the full Firefly setlist after the jump. Continue reading →

Tags: , , , ,

By

Camping, Crowd Surfing and Covers: A recap of the Firefly Music Festival

The Pathway at Firefly Music Festival | photo by Tom Beck
The Pathway at Firefly Music Festival | photo by Tom Beck

The hardest part of camping at Firefly was being forced to reconcile my love for music with my longing for basic hygienic practices.

The only bathrooms were Porta-Potties, there was no place to wash your hands or brush your teeth (okay, yes, there were handwashing stations but they almost never worked), and it cost $5 to shower in a communal group of phone booth sized stations that were only accessible after you waited in a long line.

Firefly attendee (and my camping neighbor) Cassidy Clauss plays Stump | photo by Tom Beck
Firefly attendee (and my camping neighbor) Cassidy Clauss plays Stump | photo by Tom Beck

But once you get past that, the whole thing was a life-changing experience. I finally realized why so many people buy tickets to music festivals even before the lineups are released – because there’s so much more to them than just the music. Not only did I listen to four days worth of great live tunes, but I hung out with cool new people, watched a World Cup game with thousands of Firefly attendees who also happened die-hard U.S. soccer fans, and was introduced to an outrageously fun hammer-flipping drinking game called Stump, which all of you reading this should try some time. (NOTE: This sounds ridiculously complicated and possibly injury-conducive, but for a festival campground scene, it seems about right. -ed.)

All tree stumps and hand tools aside, the most important part – the music – was great. Or at least what I managed to see. With so many acts going on at times that often overlapped, I couldn’t manage to see every band I wanted to, but did manage to see most. Courtney Barnett was amazing, and probably my favorite performance on Thursday. She seemed genuinely stunned that so many people showed up to see her play, but she totally made the best of it. Her performance was highly energetic with lots of running around and jamming to the music onstage. Bad Things were another band who were great to see live, even if most of the audience consisted of teenage girls shouting about how great Shaun White is. But in reality, the band is much more than White. In fact lead singer Davis LeDuke turned out to be a fantastic front man, and did a phenomenal job getting the crowd into the music, which proved to be a tough task considering that most people were just there to witness Shaun White.

Airborne Toxic Event violinist Anna Bulbrook crowdsurfs | Tom Beck
Airborne Toxic Event violinist Anna Bulbrook crowdsurfs | Tom Beck

The Airborne Toxic Event’s Firefly performance was my fourth time seeing them live, so I new what to expect.  Of course, they were also amazing and played an energetic live set that include a cover of “I Fought The Law” and a stage dive by violin player Anna Bulbrook.

As far as the bigger acts go, the only one that left a bit to be desired was the Arctic Monkeys, who sounded flat throughout the majority of their performance. Apart from playing their first big hit, “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor,” they struggled to get much energy going for virtually every other song on the set list, and as a result, were probably the biggest let down of the festival. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to their set.

Beck absolutely killed it. I wasn’t as big of a fan as I was for many of the other acts, but his performance stood out, from a Michael Jackson cover of “Billie Jean,” to an awesome bluesy harmonica solo and spectacular dancing skills, Beck was simply on Saturday night, leaving fans chanting “one more song” after the performance, literally wanting more. Unfortunately, Beck never came back onstage for an encore, but the amazing performance totally made up for it. He’ll definitely be an artist to watch for at next month’s XPoNential Festival.

Bad Things singer Davis LeDuke and drummer Lena Zawaidah | photo by Tom Beck
Bad Things singer Davis LeDuke and drummer Lena Zawaidah | photo by Tom Beck

Friday night’s Foo Fighters performance was the band’s first in a while, but they showed no rust playing not only their own music, but a few classic rock covers during their encore, which included Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” and Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.” In fact, covers seemed to be a bit of a theme throughout the festival; apart from covers by the Foo Fighters and Airborne Toxic Event, I saw several others, including San Fermin ending their set with an amazing version of The Strokes’ “Heart in a Cage,” Jack Johnson performing “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly along with Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” and a snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” towards the end.

It wasn’t until Jack Johnson’s set when I realized how perfect his music is to be the last headliner of the festival. His chill vibes and summery music was a perfect send off to the highlight of my summer. I think it’s fair to say that I’ll definitely be buying a wristband again for next year’s Firefly Festival.  I’m already counting down the days.

Tags: , ,

By

Firefly Music Festival Day Four: Childish Gambino, The Lumineers, Phantogram, Weezer and more

Childish Gambino | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Childish Gambino | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

We’re finally getting the ringing out of our ears, the dust out of our sinuses, have caught up on sleep and made our way through a final round of photo edits from Firefly 2014. So much action on the fourth day, from Liverpool based singer and songwriter Dan Croll kicking it off with bright and breezy African-influenced pop jams to Childish Gambino bringing the show to a close with an absolutely dynamite performance. In between, we were duly impressed by Swedish electropoppers NoNoNo, alt rock icons Weezer, cerebral dance band Phantogram, Philly singer-songwriter Casey Alvarez and more. Check out a roundup of our best photos from day four below.

Silent Disco | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Silent Disco | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Dan Croll | Photo by John Vettese
Dan Croll | Photo by John Vettese
Philadelphia Songwriters' Project winner Casey Alvarez | Photo by John Vettese
Philadelphia Songwriters’ Project winner Casey Alvarez | Photo by John Vettese
Casey Alvarez fans | Photo by John Vettese
Casey Alvarez fans | Photo by John Vettese
Broken Bells | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Broken Bells | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Continue reading →

Tags: , ,

By

Firefly Music Festival Day Three: Beck, Imagine Dragons, Outkast, Cage the Elephant and more

Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/ Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/[/caption]
Day three of the Firefly Music Festival brought out more big names like Imagine Dragons, Outkast, and Beck, who returns to town on July 2th for the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru. Below, check out the highlights from yesterday’s performances.

Outkast | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Outkast | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Beck | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Beck | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Imagine Dragons | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Imagine Dragons | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese
Third Eye Blind | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Third Eye Blind | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/

Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Continue reading →

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By

Firefly Music Festival Day Two: Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, Band of Horses, Girl Talk, Bleachers and more

Foo Fighters | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Foo Fighters | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/

Yesterday we wrapped up our second day at Firefly Music Festival, which was best described by one word: ROCK!!! Here’s some of our photo highlights from day two.

Band of Horses | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Band of Horses | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Arctic Monkeys | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Arctic Monkeys | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
American Authors | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
American Authors | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese
Young The Giant | Firefly | Photo by John Vettese
Young The Giant | Firefly | Photo by John Vettese
The Jezabels | Firefly | Photo by John Vettese
The Jezabels | Firefly | Photo by John Vettese
Airborne Toxic Event | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Airborne Toxic Event | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

Continue reading →

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

By

Firefly Music Festival Day One: Courtney Barnett, Amos Lee, Local Natives, Phosphorescent and more

Courtney Barnett | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Courtney Barnett | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

The 3rd annual Firefly Music Festival is taking place this weekend at Dover, Delaware and we are there to capture all four days of live music. Last night, the festival opened with performances from Amos Lee, Local Natives, Courtney Barnett, Phosphorescent, Parade of Lights and more.

Amos Lee | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Amos Lee | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Phosophorescent | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Phosphorescent | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tuf | joedeltufo.com
Continue reading →

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By

Dreamy psych-rockers Weekender are playing a wad of summer shows

weekender
Weekender | photo courtesy of the artist

Philly psych-pop band Weekender prove there ain’t no rest for the wicked. After headlining Kung Fu Necktie last night, the fuzzy dreampop  outfit is playing a slew of shows in Philly this summer, including local stops at Bourbon and Branch May 31, KFN June 11, the Firefly Festival in Delaware June 22, and then closing out at The Fire June 27.  With pop beats, cutting riffs and droning guitars, Weekender is an ideal summer soundtrack.The band has promised a follow-up album to 2013′s EP Spanish Peaks this summer, but no word yet on a date. In the mean time, check out their very psychedelic Off the Avenue live session in Savannah, Georgia below.

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

By

OutKast, Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson, Arctic Monkeys top Firefly 2014 lineup

OutKast
OutKast | Photo courtesy of the artist via outkast.com

The third edition of Dover, Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival announced its initial lineup today with reunited Southern rap groundbreakers OutKast leading the weekend’s headliners along with alt-rock heroes Foo Fighters and mellow singer-songwriter-surfer Jack Johnson.

Also on tap are veteran brit-rockers Arctic Monkeys, Newark-based electro-pop duo Mean Lady and Wilmington folkies New Sweden, soulful Philly singer-songwriter Amos Lee, folkies The Lumineers – making up for their cancelled appearance on 2013′s Firefly lineup – orchestral Americana Iron and Wine, as well as Band of Horses, Jake Bugg, Tegan and Sara, Chance the Rapper, Sleigh Bells and more.

The festival takes place from June 19th to June 22nd at The Woodlands, an expanse of field and forest alongside the Dover International Speedway. The grounds have been expanded this year to accommodate an anticipated 80,000 attendees, and the addition of a larger stage called The Forest Stage, and a smaller one The Big Break stage, a showcase for unsigned musicians (read more). Check out the full lineup of 100+ bands after the jump. Continue reading →

Tags: