Firefly Festival’s final 2013 installment, and the entire weekend for that matter, was summed perfectly by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig: “This is truly a beautiful festival. The sun is going down behind us, the moon is rising, and we’re here with you [the audience] who make things like this possible. Being from the area, it’s wonderful to say that the Northeast finally has it’s own great Summer festival.”
And so it was, a completely fan friendly and self-conscious summertime festival circuit environment that offered quality entertainment, over the conflicting quantity of its predecessors, of which Red Frog Entertainment should be proud.
Koenig and his band of sweater clad players from the Cape pulled off their anticipated headlining set with the ease of a seasoned cast of bill toppers, despite past summer campaigns as road warriors, and the success of the group’s 2013 LP Modern Vampires Of The City, only recently launching the group to such a status.
Not a group in favor of the encore, Vampire Weekend crammed 21 songs into its 90 minutes of play time spanning the band’s three full-length collections and featuring such selections as the set opening Contra (2010) cut “Cousins”, the electrifying 2013 single “Diane Young”, the off menu item that is “Boston (Ladies Of Cambridge)”, and a bevy of tracks off the band’s self-titled debut such as “I Stand Corrected”, “A-Punk”, and performance closing “Walcott”, much to the joy of the faithful yacht club décor sporting patronage.
At A Loss For Words: When Firefly Festival landed Synth-Pop juggernauts Passion Pit for a second straight year, after the Boston bunch failed to show in 2012 due to front man Michael Angelakos’ documented ailments, a buzz began to build about what was in store, as the group would surely feel the need to go beyond the call for those who so looked forward to last summer. Like the days before Christmas morning that same excitement and anticipation grew over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon and finally Passion Pit exploded onto the stage, sending an impact tremor through the Woodlands, as Angelakos went careening through “I’ll Be Alright” and “The Reeling”, before coming up short on the chorus of “Carried Away”, warning signs of what would ensue.
In the metaphorical sense, the engines attached to Angelakos’ vocal plane was leaking black smoke, and the look on his face to his bandmates spoke volumes before he even uttered a word to the crowd. “I’m gonna level with you guys, I’ve got some sort of crazy allergy going on and just blew out my voice. I can’t catch a fucking break at this festival.”
Indeed, Angelakos’ voice was shot three songs into Passion Pit’s pre-headlining main stage set, an unfortunate fact he did his best to remedy with a series of energetic stage antics and the best vocal exertion who could muster in that situation, and it showed in the form of a sweat-drenched button down, but when the final note was played on “Sleepyhead”, which was transformed into an instrumental club mix that sent Angelakos racing up and down the rail and center divider with an American flag in tow, the count remained 10 songs, 1 destroyed set of vocal chords, and 40,000 disappointed festival patrons.
Singing (And Dancing) In The Rain: What Matt & Kim provides on disc fails to represent what the Brooklyn-based duo has to offer in the live arena, and that’s one of the more colorful and sweltering dance parties around, one complete with 1000 balloons provided the pair of Synth-Punks, blow up beach balls, alligators, and sex dolls, and even a timeout for the stick wielding Kim Schifino to remove her bra while encouraging all the ladies in the crowd “suffering the discomfort of a pair of sweaty titties” to take theirs off as well…unfortunately for all the males in attendance, the midday showers helped quell some of the heat engulfing the Lawn Stage.
Ben Harper Flexing His Mainstage “Mussel”: For a last minute mains state substitution in place of 2013 festival hoppers The Lumineers, Ben Harper and his partner in dirty blues, harmonica maestro Charlie Musselwhite, provided one of the more memorable sets of the weekend, rolling through an impressive showcase of raunchy and soulful Blues-Rock while hippy chicks and hipster cats frolicked to the grooves in the freshly formed Delaware mud.
Good Shit: Andre 3000 failed to show in the Woodlands but that didn’t keep the L.A. based Pop collective Capital Cities from transporting its studio honed productions to The Backyard Stage planks and transforming the computer generated “Farrah Fawcett Hair”, which features the aforementioned half of Outkast, into a brass-coated live-band dance track, before unveiling the buzzed about 2013 single “Kangaroo Court” off the band’s debut LP In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery.
In Summation: The sisters HAIM love enjoy Pop-Rock, marching band style drum circles, interesting hats, and Jack Daniels in case you’d like to trying to date one or all of them; LP rattled the Woodlands with her rolling thunder vocals but failed to provide her main stage audience with an artificial rock wall so to fully experience her breakout single “Into The Wild” (click here for the allusion); 26-year old Chillwave auteur Toro Y Moi dropped Steve Urkel references and smooth beats on The Porch Stage; Dispatch worked in The Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil” into “Bang Bang” while drummer Bard Corrigan was joined by his baby boy on the throne; Foster The People closed out the mainstage with their renowned ode to Nike pumps; I can’t wait for Firefly Festival to return to the Woodlands on June 20th to 22nd of 2014.