2012 Firely Music Festival: A Review
So we have come to the end the first annual Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware. Most artists who performed this weekend had to get out their maps because they’d never booked a gig in the state. Granted, Dover isn’t exactly a hotbed of musical activity, but the idea to hold a music festival on the grounds of the Dover International Speedway was brilliant. Its a short drive from the eastern hubs of Baltimore, D.C. and Philadelphia, as well as conveniently located near more populous states like Virginia and New Jersey. The NASCAR venue lent its ample parking and camping/RV facilities to the music festival, greatly easing the overall congestion. The festival itself was placed across the highway from the Speedway in what I can only assume is normally camping fields. The expanse of land was nicely cut in two by a finger of forest that allowed the organizers to plant two stages on each side of the wall of trees. On each side of Firefly, one stage would prep while the other hosted the performing artist, and hardly any sound filtered through from the opposing side of the park.
Besides the killer bill, the festival’s fate was made through the small touches. A wine garden was tucked back in the corner where you could sample a variety of quality reds and whites and culinary offerings were eclectic. A wooded path, connecting the two halves of Firefly, sparkled with lights in the evening hours, as if lit up by the festival’s inspirational namesake. There were plenty of food vendors, restroom facilities and even an area set aside to play corn hole if the urge struck you. The organization was nice and orderly which is a surprising luxury for a first-year festival. Bands took the stage on schedule, and there were few surprises outside of what the performers brought to the stage (ahem…The Flaming Lips).
Over the past weekend we gave you an intimate look at the performances from John Legend, Jack White, Lupe Fiasco, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie and The Flaming Lips. Now its time to give you a few brief observations on some of the smaller acts that entertained the Firefly crowds.
Have you ever seen an all white mariachi band? Me neither before this weekend. Mariachi El Bronx is just that and can lay down the chords with the best strummers at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Curious, fun and a nice departure from the rock fest.
Fitz and the Tantrums are an interesting duo. Michael Fitzpatrick’s hair and shirt looked like an escaped convict, while Noelle Scaggs has shed her locks to be the African-American Sinead O’Connor. Curious appearances aside, they laid down a groovy mix of tunes that helped the “Moneygrabber” followers expand their view of the band.
For a largely modern rock bill, rap basically took over The Backyard stage. Chiddy Bang, Tinie Tempah, and especially Lupe Fiasco got the overwhelming caucasian crowd jumping. I’d love to see festival organizers expand this segment of the music in future years.
Young the Giant played their usual great set. Sameer Gadhia and his boys rock out with the best of them as we discovered at last year’s Music Midtown Festival in Atlanta. I couldn’t be happier for their success and hope they are headlining this thing in a couple years.
Modest Mouse was an eleventh hour addition to the festival, but a very welcomed one. The indie rockers brought a great energy and fire to the Firefly stage on Saturday.
My biggest gripe of the weekend falls squarely on The Black Keys. Either the band or their publicist decided at the last minute to deny all but a select few photographers from shooting the band, throwing a wrench into our coverage plans. We were more than happy to give the free press to the more than deserving Flaming Lips. The Killers had a similar no photographer rule, but it was relayed early in the day so we could make proper arrangements. Anyway, for those hoping to see our coverage of the Keys at Firefly, place that frustration on the band.
In all, Firefly was a lot of fun. It was a great assembly of bands in the perfect venue for a festival. The festival organizers did their homework to make the weekend a special experience for all who attended. If you are on the eastern seaboard and looking for a fun road trip, keep Firefly Music Festival in mind next year. Evidently, this year’s bash was so successful, they are already pre-selling tickets for next year’s fest.