Firefly Music Festival was an absolute success, as Red Frog Events delivered a unique experience that will surely be missed until next summer. Each band embraced the culture and the novelty of the event and played fun, energetic sets that kept fans dancing all weekend.
The Brewery, with its flat screen TV’s, air-conditioning, and cold Dogfish Head beers, was a relief when it got too hot out, the string lights and simple wooden picnic tables of The Vineyard fit the casual Firefly image perfectly, and the hot air balloons, hammock area, video arcade, and design-your-own Toms tent further enhanced the carefree atmosphere that should become the standard for outdoor music festivals.
Although “The Woodlands” held four stages, Red Frog chose to schedule only two shows at a time. This made it easier on fans, who were already faced with some tough decisions. The layout of the 87-acre Woodlands also complimented this two-band strategy. A dense tree line split the venue in half, which prevented noise from traveling from one stage to another. Walking through the wooded path between stages, fans enjoyed the sights of nature integrated with the summer festival atmosphere.
Every tree bark was wrapped in the blue and green Firefly color scheme, a string of white kites hung high in the branches, and a rainbow light show brightened the canopy of leaves into a sea of color.
When we emerged from the trees, the sounds of Saturday’s musicians completed the experience. The HandsDownMusic team was able to cover the performances of The Knocks, Young the Giant, Chiddy Bang, Cake, Modest Mouse, Lupe Fiasco and The Killers!
For a two-man show, The Knocks had no problem getting the crowd jumping around and having a great time. I was surprised by this duos ability to play such an array of music and they were able to read everyone to transition perfectly. Young the Giant drew a very large audience, playing most of their hits, to the delight of the singing crowd. I’ve never listened to their music on a regular basis, but they have got my full attention now. Chiddy Bang followed up by coming up on stage and immediately got Firefly festival goers moving. After opening with the tracks “Handclaps & Guitars” and “Mind Your Manners,” he transitioned into his signature freestyle on stage with suggestions from the audience. He brought a lot of energy to the stage and was definitely one of best performances of the day on my list.
Cake treated the crowd to both old hits and songs from their latest album. Lead man John McCrea also inserted social commentary into the setlist, with subjects ranging from the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, to the music industry, to the importance of setting aside technology and simply appreciating and sharing the music.
Surprise guests Modest Mouse had the festival teeming with excitement, and, of course, they did not disappoint. No surprise, though, was the crowd’s roar when the band played their ever-popular single, “Float On.” There was a break in the middle of the set, but that didn’t take back from anything, as they came back on and performed for another 20-30 minutes.
In our opinion though, Lupe Fiasco really stole the show. Attracting the largest audience of the day (except for the headlining Killers), Lupe simply rocked. He delighted both faithful fans and new ones alike, as he certainly gained fresh ears with the last-minute absence of his scheduled competition, electropop band Passion Pit.
Lupe and his band members gave it their all, jumping and running around the stage, spraying water into the crowd, and engaging their fans with instructions to chant and clap at specified times. One of the guitarists wowed fans by raising his instrument above and behind his head, while continuing to play. Lupe ended his set with a spirited performance of his most popular song, “The Show Goes On,” thrilling fans and segueing nicely into the final performance of the day, The Killers.
You should’ve seen the crowd packing the grass around the Firefly Stage before The Killers came on. It was absolutely unreal to see just how far back people were lined up to see one of their best performances to date. The light show, accompanied with fireworks, was a sight to see and there was always a surprise that made the Killers set stand out among the rest. It was incredible to see the reaction from those standing around us and you could tell that this would be a memorable concert for years to come.
Festivals are often judged not only on the music, but also on the experience. Firefly passed this test in just its first attempt with flying colors, and we’re looking forward to future Red Frog projects and Summer 2013 already!
-Grant (Guest Post)