The Classic, Modern and Feel-Good Sides of Firefly Festival

Article by: Marcus Dowling|@marcuskdowling

Fri June 12, 2015 | 00:00 AM

When a festival advertises itself as “the Coachella , Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza of the East Coast,” the onus to meet or exceed such lofty expectations is real. However, when you look at the lineup and activities offered at June 18-21’s Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, the possibility to achieve the high standard set by those legendary events is palpable.

Now entering its fourth year, this is the first year that the festival will benefit from a promotional and production partnership between Firefly’s owners Red Frog Events and Coachella producers Goldenvoice. The early results of the partnership have already been felt as 90,000 attendees have purchased 4-day tickets. Firefly 2015 features an impressive slate of live acts, headlined by Paul McCartney, The Killers and Morrissey. There’s camping and restaurant options, even an air-conditioned vintage arcade, coffee house complete with board games, expanded hammock area and even an on-site craft beer bar.

Premium experiences aside, the musical highlights will again take the cake at the four-day event, and we’ve broken them down into the classic, modern and feel-good categories. Here’s hoping that you’re able to sample the finest of what this mega-event has to offer – or at the very least, experience potent bits of all as the weekend unfolds.

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Photo by: Firefly Festival

The Classic

Morrissey and Paul McCartney in the same evening (Friday, Firefly Main Stage 8 pm - 12:30 am)

Yes, this is happening and yes, it will be magical. Booking Paul McCartney as a festival headliner makes sense because of his work with The Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist. However, there may be no finer modern McCartney comparative than Morrissey, the UK-based vocalist who famously started his career as the lead singer of The Smiths, and who is now 25 years, 11 albums and a comeback into a storied solo career. A genius pairing, it may be worth the price of four days of admission alone.

The Killers close the main stage (Sunday, Firefly Main Stage 9:15 - 10:45 pm)

With iconic hits like “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” and 2008’s platinum-selling-single “Human,” The Killers – as compared to other festivals erring in the direction of digital/internet age EDM headliners – are a modern classic on Firefly’s lineup. Brandon Flowers’ soaring vocals will gloriously breeze through the Firefly sound waves.

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Photo by: Firefly Festival

The Modern

Run The Jewels (Friday, Pavilion Stage 9 - 10 pm)

Tough-talking Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike and Brooklyn’s El-P combine forces as the belowed, rap-traditionalist power duo Run The Jewels. These are not singles-based and Top 40 friendly emcees, but tracks with titles like "Close Your Eyes (And Count to F***)" should give you a sense of the type of “damn the man” sensibilities to be heard here. A true outlier on the lineup, it’ll likely be the festival’s most raucous of hours.

Tove Lo (Sunday, Pavilion Stage 8:15 - 9:15 PM)

From “Habits” to “Heroes,” Swedish singer Tove Lo has had a stranglehold on pop ears for the past two years. She has a powerhouse voice and, with almost ten years of experience under her belt, isn’t as much of a “one-or-two hit wonder” as some may suspect. Expect to hear a significant chunk of her debut album Queen of the Clouds, and chances are you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.

Gary Clark, Jr. and Matt & Kim play back to back (Firefly Main Stage, 3:45 pm - 7:15 pm)

Though they couldn’t be more polar opposites as artists, Gary Clark, Jr. and Matt & Kim could provide the most exciting back-to-back and fun-filled performances of the entire weekend.

Austin’s Gary Clark, Jr. is the bluesy guitar hero heir apparent to every guitar great ever. Hendrix-style distortion melds with R&B crooner-style vocals and at only 31 years of age – with appearances with everyone from the Foo Fighters, The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys and Sheryl Crow under his belt – it's clear that he’s a virtuoso and the real deal.

Matt & Kim are your favorite hipsters' favorite hipsters. Even though they lack guitars, they could easily be playing the most powerful and ear-worming melodies at Firefly. Kim Schifino is a fantastic drummer with a whirling dervish combination of booty drops and personality. Her hip-hop and punk rock influenced style always make her output a crowd favorite. Matt Johnson’s “boy next door” charm makes him the perfect comic straight man to Kim’s entertaining manic panic.

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Photo by: Firefly Festival

The Feel-Good

Kygo and Zedd (Friday, Backyard Stage – Kygo, 9 - 10 pm; Zedd, 12:30 am - 2 am)

EDM that provide pulse-pounding afternoon vibes is all over the Pavilion Stage for Firefly’s four days, as everything from Solidisco’s disco house (Thursday), Craze and DJ Mustard's rap-friendly dance (Friday), The Chainsmokers' pop electro (Saturday) and RJD2’s scratch acrobatics (Sunday) are all represented. However, for the most euphoric of moments, go see Kygo spinning his blissed-out and almost calypso-inspired “tropical house.” After Paul McCartney, return for Zedd’s classical theory-inspired electro; when it comes to the magical moments of which dancing and festivals as current pop culture staples are made, these two “back-to-back” sets will be right on the money.

Hozier, followed by Citizen Cope (Sunday, Lawn Stage – Hozier, 5:45 - 6:45 pm; Porch Stage, Citizen Cope, 7 - 8 pm)

Hozier’s 2013 hit “Take Me To Church” is a spine-tinglingly great ballad. But both Hozier and Citizen Cope offer much more than their signature songs and are certainly worth staying for the entirety of their sets. Hozier’s crowd pleasing and blues-tinged vocals makes him one to watch as a festival mainstay, which is something that Citizen Cope has evolved into over his 25 year career. For vibes that may best encapsulate what Firefly is all about as a festival, these two performances could could be the best showcase.