The clouds broke and the sun came out just in time for the first day of the 2019 Firefly Festival. After a morning downpour and slight technical issue for campers, once the proper festival got started, all was forgotten.
The day began with Philly power trio Mo Lowda and the Humble. Their sound was representative of what was to come today — a little soul, a little pop, and a little rock. Immediately following Mo Lowda on the Lawn Stage was Israeli R&B singer Dennis Lloyd. He had the crowd bouncing with funky songs boasting elements of jazz and reggaeton. While all of this sounds like an odd mix on paper, he and his band were incredible.
Since Bob Moses‘ proper set coincided exactly with headliner Tyler The Creator, I decided to check out their DJ set, and was glad I did. They make for enthusiastic spinners singing along to each song and excitedly gesturing to us when the good part came.
TLC reached across generations with their songs. I was surprised how emotional I got while Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, along with their band and dancers, charged through their catalog of hits. Hearing Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ raps during “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” and “Waterfalls,” had me thinking that she would be amazed at how well their music is received today by the younger crowd. The group’s message of owning your sexuality and being unafraid to speak up to aggressive men is just as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.
Evan Giia was super excited to be at Firefly and gave me Lourde and Alessia Cara vibes. Unfortunately there was something a little too pre-fab for my taste, namely that she relied quite a bit on her backing vocal track. I love pop much as the next person but in comparing Giia with the other acts I saw on Friday, she was a little lacking.
Orlando, Florida band Sales played the scenic Treehouse Stage to a group of us in need of a more mellow vibe. It was a nice surprise to see the same kids I saw earlier at the TLC and Dennis Lloyd sets singing along just as enthusiastically to this chill indie rock trio. The beauty of festival culture, I suppose.
The last and possibly only true rawk band I saw today was Courtney Barnett and her band. She started with “Avant Gardener” and didn’t look back, mixing in wandering jams from last year’s Tell Me How You Really Feel with the pissed-off punk of “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” and “Nameless, Faceless,” as well as the ironically poppy “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence.”
The finale started with Tyler the Creator who successfully brought together his prior Odd Future Wolf Gang persona with his more recent image of more mature, well-respected artiste. He sang, he danced, he worked the crowd from the edge of the catwalk, and even brought in his “Loiter Squad” career into the mix when dealing with an overzealous fan who threw several personal items of hers onto the stage.
Finally, Panic at the Disco! took to the main stage to close out the night. It was here that I realized that, while festivals may give audiences a taste of all different genres, it seems like artists like Panic are now forced to embody all things to all demographics. The band who was once emo and cynical are now jolly, sober, and acquiescent. Personally they are not my cup of tea but the cross-section of people screaming along with every lyric shows they are doing something right.
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