The final day of any elongated festival has a certain theme: survival.
With legs aching and feet swollen from a weekend of trekking to the various on site hot beds, the only chance of retaining one’s sanity and physical well being is a solid slate of talent…and Sunday failed to leave the Firefly Fest faithful wanting.
The Flaming Lips acted as one of the biggest draws of day three, as was proven by the uproarious greeting that met Wayne Coyne as he offered a preemptive strike in a confetti war waged on opening day by OK Go by popping off a few menial paper blasters before returning to the backstage haunts.
When he returned, Coyne and company met their congregate with a thick storm of tissue scraps, streamers, and a meteor shower of rainbow hued balloons after each refrain of “Race For The Prize.” The war had been won…and that was merely the opening salvo.
The band followed with “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and the Neon Indian collaboration “Is David Bowie Dying?” and it was during the latter where the crowd walking man-boy in the plastic bubble was birthed on the planks while the smoke monster from Lost engulfed The Lawn Stage and all its inhabitants before chasing after an eight-year old girl in the audience that had been hoisted upon her father’s shoulders, automatically making her the frealiest/coolest child in the world from the hours of 7:50 to 9:20 p.m. on that Sunday evening.
The Lips slowed the show down in tempo and theme, Coyne asking the audience to indulge he and the band while they offered up the subdued piece of psychedelia-laced balladry that is “Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell,” which allowed that aforementioned father of the year nominee a proper lull to lift his daughter to the sky so she could serve a large floating balloon to another part of the crowd, in so doing his part to preserve a future generation a free, rationally thinking human beings.
It was during “See The Leaves” when Coyne’s hands grew to unbelievable sizes as the front-man proceeded to shoot lasers out of his palms, which was followed by a much needed PSA:
“I suggest that if you have yet to smoke marijuana during this set that this is the song you do it for…But remember, smoking marijuana has been said to lead to harder more dangerous things like cigarettes. So please be careful.” Roll on “Laser Hands” and “Drug Chart.”
The Lips closed out its performance with an encore that saw Coyne caked in angelic white lighting on the Bon Iver collaborative effort “Ashes In The Air” from the band’s Heady Fwends Record Store Day release, as well as a jam on king crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” and of course “Do You Realize?” making for the most visually pleasing and euphoric musical ventures anyone could partake in, as is per usual with the spacious Oklahoma-based demigods.
The Black Keys headlined the final day of this event and had they deviated from a well traveled and battle tested setlist that’s seen every corner of the Earth since the release of El Camino, they might have led this review, however the Cleveland-based Blues-Rock duo sped through its plethora of riff-driven hits such as the opening number, “Howlin For You,” as well as “Next Girl,” “Run Right Back,” “Don’t Let Go,” and “Gold On The Ceiling” while glazed in purple and red fluorescence and backed by a wall of flash bulbs that exploded with each strike of the kick drum.
Ben Gibbard led Death Cab For Cutie on an elongated opening jam on “I Will Possess Your Heart,” an offering that spurred the tossing of freshly, and illegally, plucked corn stalks into the air as well as a vast array of Zoey Deschanel jokes by jesters who were drowned out by applause when the first chords of “Crooked Teeth” were cut into.
“I”m sick as fuck Firefly,”admitted Gibbard prior to calling up the tune, “so you’re gonna have to help me hit the high notes…” and the assemblage was happy to oblige.
When the Wahington outfit called upon “Soul Meets Body” the sun fully emerged from behind cloud coverage for a Firefly Festival first, washing over the band as Gibbard spoke the associating set of lyrics “let the sun wrap its arms around me”…it had to have been fate, or the songsmith was birthed from Storm’s loins in Dr. Xavier’s hallowed halls. Is wolverine the father? We may never know.
Before his aforementioned performance, Wayne Coyne stopped by to bless The Lawn Stage prior to Fitz & The Tantrum’s funky sax-laced performance which opened with “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” followed by a jazz flute infused rendition of “Pickin’ Up The Pieces,” before rekindling the Firefly flame set on Friday by Jack white with a jazzy cover of the Raconteurs’ “Steady As She Goes.” At the same exact time dover, DE via London’s own Tinie Tempah launched patrons higher than the ridiculously priced balloon ride located to the left of The Backyard Stage lifted anyone with his collection of club quakers that included “Pass Out” and “Miami To Ibiza,” and the theme to the 2011 MLB Playoffs “Written In The Stars.”
Cold War Kids continued to pull in large gatherings of festival patrons on the Firefly Stage with its reputation as renown Indie-Rock darling which induced a sing alongs on “Hang Me Out To Dry” and “We Used To Vacation,” while the L.A. based brass accompanied rock outfit, Mariachi El Bronx, induced salsa shaken hips and shimmying mid riffs that could make even the most reserved gentleman double take with such selections as “48 Roses” and “Revolution Girls.”
“I love that dolphin I saw crowd surfing,” announced AWOLNATION’s Aaron Bruno after driving home “People.” but let’s get some humans riding the ways. This could be the greatest afternoon of your lives is you’ll let it.” Cuing up “Not Your Fault” provided the perfect turbulence to the sea of humanity head banging before him, and so that inflatable dolphin was joined by various unsuspecting women tossed to the sharks by their soon to be slapped boyfriends.
The outfit followed up with a new song titled “I Want To Catch Fire” and “Sail” before moment of reflection.
“Its taken a long time to get to this point and we don’t forget all of your support, everyone who listened and came to see us over the years. I see the Flaming Lips’ gear up hear and its an incredible honor to be sharing this stage with them. This is a surreal moment,” expressed Bruno prior to launching himself off the front of the planks into outstretched arms of his people.
Opening the main stage was The Head & The Heart, who drew applause from a modest congregate with its brand of harmonious Folk-Rock honed in the heart of Washington state, while the nicktunes-influenced Athens, GA-based Dance-Punk twenty somethings that compose Reptar rattled about the The Porch stage offering an early afternoon party for its young sisters and brethren of the Rugrats cloth, calling up such buzzed about breakout selections as “Sebastian” and “Please Don’t Kille Me” between shouts of “Halt! I am Reptar!” and “Whats a dinosaur to do, when there’s kids, on the ice! Quick! Somebody call their mom!” from a pair of dinosaur mask sporting show goers…just joking, it was me, for at an instance I was an 11years old again, and after all, that’s the effect a music festival is supposed to have…mission accomplished Firefly.
This review started with The Flaming Lips and will end with Wayne Coyne’s set closing quote. “Thank you for loving experiences, loving music, and loving each other.” Thank you Firefly Festival…let’s do it again sometime.