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 →
Here’s a quick rundown of day two of the Firefly Music Festival. While there were over thirty bands on the schdedule on Friday, the big hits of the day were Twenty One Pilots — whose fans are the hypest people at the festival by far — and Judah & The Lion, who opened the main stage in the afternoon. Judah & The Lion joined Twenty One Pilots during their set to cover “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba and “Jump Around” by House of Pain and the world exploded.
Sofi Tukker was the best set I saw today. The Brooklyn based duo – Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern – played very interactive dance rock with touches of South American percussion. Maggie Rogers came onstage to join in on a song with them. Banks was stunning; and her haunting performance was marked with beautiful sound, choreography, and a lot of awesome weirdness. Franz Ferdinand DJ’d Euro pop on the Treehouse Stage after their main stage set; and Louie Louie performed on the Campground Stage. Continue reading →
Day one of the Firefly Music Festival was marked by near perfect weather – sunny skies and comfortable breezes – and some excellent sets of music. Maggie Rogers was by far the standout set of the day. She’s originally from Eastern Shore, Maryland, so this was sort of a hometown set for her. Both OAR and Salt Cathedral played pop-up sets in the Firefly Coffee House after their main stage sets; OAR had the place packed. And there were several cool covers; Maggie Rogers did “Wannabe” by Spice Girls, and Eden did “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson and “Hey Ya” by OutKast. Continue reading →
The Firefly Festival lineup for 2016 has been announced. Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon, Florence & The Machine, Nathaniel Ratefliff & The Night Sweats, Major Lazer, and Tame Impala top the bill, with some exciting lesser known musicians like Lauren Stevenson, Jack Garratt, Arkells, and Teen Men and Son Little from Philly. Continue reading →
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’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 →
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.