Every June, thousands of music lovers, campers, foodies, families, couples, old friends, and new friends, all make the journey to Dover, Delaware to celebrate. But what are they celebrating, exactly? As a veteran Firefly Music Festival attendee (2019 marks my seventh year, thank you very much.), I can give you answers.
In past years, I’ve seen attendees celebrate Father’s Day, the start of summer, an engagement, a break-up, a birthday, or life in general. This year was the first year since the festival was acquired by AEG Presents. Along with being shortened to three days, the new ownership brought improved and brand new stages, more permanent campground structures, and upgrades for those lucky attendees such as Front Row Viewing.
Friday brought Firefly Music Festival to life with performances from TLC, Awolnation, Courtney Barnett, Arkells, Panic! At the Disco, and a grand finale from Zedd. With new activations throughout the Woodlands, Firefly offered attendees more “stuff” than ever before. Of course music is number one in my book but finding a hammock to relax in in The Nook, jamming to the Silent Disco at The Thicket, and perusing crafty jewelry at the new Bazaar makes Firefly stand out as the biggest celebration of arts and culture within the festival world. Another brand new addition to this year’s iteration of Firefly was the introduction of the Woodlands Supper Club – available as an add-on to all Firefly attendees. Situated directly across from the Firefly Stage, the tasting menu curated by Philly Chef, Alex Garfinkel, came complete with Dogfish Head Brewery beer and spirit pairings as well as a superb soundtrack of music. The picturesque setting offered foodies the chance to indulge in culinary masterpieces while still savoring the carefree atmosphere of a music fest.
Day two of Firefly felt slightly emo, but in all the best ways. Performers included King Princess, Dashboard Confessional, Bishop Briggs, Death Cab For Cutie, Alison Wonderland, Passion Pit, and Kygo. With emotional sets and passionate audiences, the day was vibrant and inspiring, with only a few hiccups. At one point an intoxicated man opted to streak through the Budlight Dive Bar Stage, and as a result was arrested. One of the new attractions at the fest was Camp Riunite where you could find seating, crafts, and wine. Saturday had music going until nearly 2:00AM so finding those Instagram-worthy escapes from the heat during the day was strategic and completely necessary for festival attendees. There was also a butterfly sanctuary nestled in the totally zen Nook, surrounded by trees and hammocks, but also next to the Treehouse Stage, so you were never away from music entirely.
The third and final day of Firefly had a much more empowered personality. Many of the performers were very vocal about celebrating Pride month, and encouraged not just a Pride month, but a Pride year, or a Pride life. Performers included lovelytheband, Jessie Reyez, Yungblud, Vampire Weekend, Walk The Moon, Post Malone, and DJ Snake. Lovelytheband started the day with a 2:00pm set on the main Firefly Stage and the threesome showcased not only their talents but also how impressive their loyal fans are. With songs like “Broken,” “These Are My Friends,” and a cover of “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, the band knows how to entice an early afternoon crowd. Jessie Reyez crowd surfed during her unapologetic and unfiltered set on the Lawn Stage before Yungblud got wild at his set at the Prism Stage. One of the most notable sets of the day was Vampire Weekend on the Firefly Stage. Frontman Ezra Koenig was charming and endearing, even when he turned to face the side of the stage and asked if anyone could bring him the most stylish sunglasses backstage. With cheeky green shorts, a bold blue shirt, and a new pair of sunnies, Koenig proved that Vampire Weekend are absolutely festival darlings. Hits like “Horchata,” “Oxford Comma, “A-Punk,” and “Hannah Hunt” were all massive sing-alongs.
When Walk The Moon exploded onto the Lawn Stage later that evening, the band left nothing behind. From new songs like “Eat Your Heart Out” to seriously epic anthems like “Shut Up and Dance With Me” and “Anna Sun,” the guys got the entire festival amped up before Post Malone’s set immediately following.
Flames. Red cups. Smashed guitar. Post Malone. The singer-songwriter-rapper had all 50,000 Firefly Music Festival attendees screaming along to “Wow,” “Congratulations,” “Rockstar, “ Psycho,” and the list goes on and on. Celebrity attendees included actor Ryan Phillippe and son Deacon Reese Phillippe, who posted on Instagram several times throughout the day.
As the weekend came to a close and the fireworks had come and gone, festival attendees returned to their campsites, glampsites, and hotels before heading back to real life. The eighth year of Firefly Music Festival successfully celebrated the raw magic of music and all of the emotions that come with it. A live show is nothing without the fans, and the people of Firefly have yet to disappoint.