As the final reverberations of Dan Auerbach’s guitar brought The Black Keys’ set, and the inaugural Firefly Music Festival, to a close Sunday, many walked through the other worldly decorated wooded paths and back to their cars with quite a bit to ponder as they re-entered what some of us like to call “real life”. By all accounts it seemed as though every fest-goer, veteran or otherwise, had high hopes that Firefly would return and become a regular summer staple on par with the Bonnaroos and Coachellas of the world. Those goals may be unrealistic/far in the offing given the size and scope of the U.S.’s major festivals, but that isn’t to say that the Firefly brand doesn’t have some unique and truly fan invested qualities going for it.
Unlike those Glasto-reaching festivals, Firefly really concerned itself with catering to the overall experience, music and all. Rather than take up an opportunity to vacuum countless quarters out of attendees’ pockets with an air conditioned arcade, Firefly opted to make all the games wherein free to everyone. Cornhole set ups, a hammock hangout, and a Jack Daniels truck giving away free glossy photos of anyone who wanted one gave the grounds a feel that must not be uncommon at most Dover tailgates. There was a breezy, openness as crowds were kept cycling throughout the grounds with little to no mass build ups making for any uncomfortable traversing.
“So this is our first time playing Delaware,” was the general statement made by almost every band playing Firefly. Given that the lone billboard promoting shows at Dover Downs on the way to the fest was one featuring Carlos Mencia, it seems as though most acts see Delaware as an afterthought on their way to Philadelphia (and holy shit was there a huge Philly presence in attendance). It became clear rather quickly, however, that each act that took one of the four Firefly stages was truly excited to play, and why not? How often is it that bands get to expand beyond their regular tour stops?
All this without making mention of the lovely people of Delaware who were nothing but wide eyed and merry to have such a showcase event in their neck of the woods. To be able to say that you attended the greatest concert your state has ever hosted in 2012 is quite a rare thing to be able to boast. As some bands made light of the fact that they were in “fuckin’ Delaware” and the big fish that fest organizers were looking to attract swam down from New York and Philadelphia, the sheen of that first big concert was never lost on the locals, even through the rain. A big credit to them and everyone outside the Firefly gates for projecting the enthusiasm onto the coldest of hearts.
So the big questions everyone wants answered; will Firefly return and can it succeed in becoming a sustainable, regular event where so many others before it had ultimately crashed and burned? In my own opinion, Firefly could have gotten away with booking a lineup comprable to a Dave Matthews caravan and sold as many tickets as it did. The reason it drew so much outsider interest, however, was just how tremendous their first year lineup was. I mean look at the fucking schedule. They really went for the Hail Mary on first down and god damn if they didn’t take it all the way to the house. Not only did they bring the big bands, but they set them just so that you could catch at least a half hour of everything if you were curious enough to catch it all. This on top of keeping the size of the crowds down so that even if you showed up ten minutes into a given set, you could still navigate your way to a decent spot.
So the pieces are all in place for Firefly to return after a year of word of mouth and blog posts hyping its rookie year, but can they put together a lineup on par with their first? You have to figure Passion Pit owes them one after pulling out just days before they were slated to play (not unlike what happened with the Flaming Lips and the Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama). From there its just pure speculation and hearsay until festival organizers announce dates for 2013. Should another Firefly manifest itself, as early signs seem to indicate, then you and I will be hard pressed yet again to not make the easy three hour jaunt to Dover and its confetti covered Woodlands.
(I’ll also never tire of seeing the looks on people’s faces the first time they’re introduced to the Flaming Lips’ live legend)
Number of times The Raconteurs’ “Steady As She Goes” was performed – 2 (Jack White, Fitz & the Tantrums)
Best cover – Flaming Lips – “21st Century Schizoid Man” (originally by King Crimson)
Best non-headlining set – Silversun Pickups
Number of Philadelphia Phillies hats seen – One Bajillion
Best dance party nobody came to – Yeasayer
Best Dogfish Head craft brew – 90 minute IPA
Biggest mosh pit – AWOLNATION
Dad of the year award – The guy who put his very young daughter on his shoulders for the entirety of the Flaming Lips freak out
Best “who was that? They were amazing!” set – tie between Walk the Moon/Polica
Trooper award – Jack White for overcoming sound issues and performing largely barefoot during a downpour
Cornhole champion – myself (in a time constricted match that I abruptly ended after taking the lead, still counts)
UPDATE: Firefly will return in 2013!