IN THE BEGINNING…
It was early mid-May of 2012 when thumbing through the current issue of Rolling Stone, I came across an good looking advertisement for the Firefly Music Festival. It was the color scheme that first caught my eye but then it was the location of the event that really jumped out at me — Dover, Delaware. To those outside of the area, Dover is known best for playing host to some of Nascar’s most ferocious action at the Dover Speedway. Certainly, I couldn’t be reading this correctly! Without missing a beat, I was off to my trusty workstation to get the lowdown on this mysterious new event. I fired up the laptop and within a few clicks I had arrived at the official online source for all things “Firefly” — www.fireflyfestival.com.
The official site offered up a wealth of information. The lineup for the event jumped out at me immediately and is nothing less than stellar for a inaugural run. Firefly boasts an impressive lineup of heavy hitting acts such as The Killers, Jack White, The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, John Legend, Silversun Pickups, OK Go, Death Cab for Cutie, AWOLNATION and Girl Talk, just to name a few. Billed as “the East Coast’s premier music experience,” Firefly runs an impressive three days from July 20 -22. The site also promised “three days of unforgettable musical performances, enhanced dining options and interactive entertainment set among lush wooded landscapes in the heart of the East Coast.
Having done the research and being blown away by detail and planning that clearly had gone into the planning stages of this potentially monumental event, I decided I was all in! I had to experience this event for myself and bring our readers closer to the heart of the event. I got on my Zack Morris-like cellular phone and made the hot call to our writers to spread the word. Almost instantly, Steve “Stomper” Johnson declared his allegiance to the trip and we ordered up two tickets and cleared our schedules for the trip.
ICON VS. ICON’S KEY PLAYERS FOR THE FIREFLY MUSIC FESTIVAL:
“You wanted the best, well they didn’t fucking make it! From Hollywood, Steve Johnson and Jason Price!” Pardon our ode to Guns N’ Roses, but it isn’t often we get to rock an intro! Back to our story: To cover the event, Icon Vs. Icon dispatched in Jason Price and Steve “Stomper” Johnson, part of our dedicated team. Why these guys? Easy! These two men are no stranger to the festival scene and have taken in countless live shows throughout the years and are grizzled veterans of Lollapolooza, Ozzfest, Warped Tour, Family Values Tour, Mayhem Festival, Virgin Fest, M3 Rock Festival and Woodstock ’99, just to name a few.
While they tend to learn more toward the hard rock and metal side of things, we know that they can take a beating and it’s no secret that a three day music festival during one of the hottest summer’s on record can pack on hell of a punch! Both men agree that the Firefly Music Festival is one of the most intriguing events to hit the area in years and has potential to fuel the music scene in the area for years to come.
Of his impending experience, Johnson said, “I am most interested in seeing what the vibe at the event is going to be. This event is definitely going to attract a diverse crowd, many of which are coming from surrounding metropolitan areas like New York City, DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore and beyond. That will surely give the crowd as unique a flavor as the musical acts that have been brought in to kick this thing off. In short, I am really looking forward to it — I think they have tapped into something special here.” When asked who he was most interested in seeing at Firefly, who he hadn’t seen live in the past, he responded simply with “Girl Talk.”
Steve Johnson Fun Facts: For his next multi-day concert experience, Icon Vs. Icon is sending Johnson and his wife to the 13th Annual Gathering of The Juggalos — five days and nights of music and pandemonium to Cave-In-Rock, IL. You can follow Steve on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dastomper.
A Word On Our Mission:
“As I have mentioned, this show sprung up, on me at least, seemingly out of nowhere. I am glad the event organizers have given us the opportunity to give people the scoop on the event. My favorite festival experiences have been the result of the people surrounding us, the good vibes in the crowd and the memorable on-stage performances. Setting out to experience Firefly for the first time, what I hope we provide our readers with is an overall feel for what we encountered and what they might expect in the future when they attend.” — Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon
WHERE IS IT? LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO THE WOODLANDS:
Firefly Music Festival takes place at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, a place i must admit I was unfamiliar with prior to the festival announcement. A little research revealed that the Woodlands offer 87 acres of lush, wooded festival grounds nestled within the expansive 840-acre sports campus, offering the intimate feel of a backyard party with all the amenities of the world-class event complex. Located in the heart of Dover, Delaware and steps from shopping, hotels, gaming, and restaurants, the Woodlands are the ideal backdrop for what could soon become the East Coast’s hottest summer festival ticket.
THE SURROUNDING AREA: The official site clued us in to the one of the biggest draws to the area, Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. The complex is a AAA rated four diamond hotel and casino, featuring over 2,500 slots and table games including poker, blackjack, craps and roulette. Interestingly enough, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino will be providing endless entertainment when the music ends. Throughout the weekend, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino will host official Firefly after-parties in the state-of-the-art, 1,600-person capacity Rollins Center.
THE TICKETS AND THE MOBILE APP…
Personally, I always get that “kid on Christmas morning” feeling when a mysterious package shows up in the mailbox. Fans of pop culture, cool artwork and kickass packaging, we were blown away by the ticket package revealed when we opened our mystery envelope. The box contained all the information about reaching our destination, what we could and couldn’t bring and last but certainly not least, our 3-day festival wristband. It is an impressive package that assured us that the organizers clearly had their stuff together and that were were getting plenty of bang for our buck! Well done!
On July 12th, the official website for the event announced the release of an app for the Firefly Music Festival. This app is your one-stop-shop for all things Firefly 2012 and brings a new meaning to user interaction with its many specialized features including:
You and your friends can take photos throughout the weekend and add fun Firefly Festival filters.
The Woodlands Map:
Pinch and zoom into a layout of the festival with icons for the stages, food and drink locations.
View the complete Firefly Music festival lineup by stage or artist.
Create your personal Firefly schedule and receive reminders about when your selected bands are about to perform. You will also have the ability to “like” your favorite performers, see who other users have “liked” and view the selections.
News and Socialize:
This is an easy way to stay in the loop on the latest Firefly Festival info through push notifications. This feature includes news and updates, links to the official Firefly Twitter and a portal to personal social media accounts. This awesome new approach makes it easier than ever to get your Firefly fix atyour convenience through both iPhone and Android!
ROAD WARRIORS: GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN!
“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.” Wait, that is a different story entirely. Firefly seemed the the perfect time to break in Steve’s newly murdered out van, “Trixie,” which allows us to roll with everything we need for a long trip like this. She is a beast of a machine and only slightly less cool than the van used by a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit back in 1972. The main difference in those two juggernauts is that Trixie doesn’t have a kickass spoiler with awesome pin striping but it does boast a copy of Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning,” which is literally stuck in the tape deck.
Before we could go anywhere, we had to lay the groundwork for the journalistic side of things, as we are professionals. For an hour before we did a little prep for the trip, we opted for the official Firefly Music Festival playlist on the critically acclaimed 8tracks.com. Dubbed as one of the “50 Best Websites” in a list by Time magazine in 2011, 8tracks.com is an online radio station in which users create playlists and share them with anyone who may wish to listen, all for free. The Firefly playlist features songs from the multitude of artists performing at Firefly, ranging from “All These Things That I’ve Done” by headliner The Killers to the soothing hip-hop hit “Paris, Tokyo” by Chicago native Lupe Fiasco. It was a great way to prep for the road trip and you can click HERE to access the playlist and taste of things to come.
Being experienced concertgoers and both in our thirties, we knew to bring the essentials: Water, light snacks, a six pack for parking lot pre-gaming, ibuprofen, Zantac, baby wipes and a snake bite kit. Hey, ya never know. We stuffed our backpacks with the goods, our equipment to bring you live updates from the show, gassed up the van and hit the open road. To get us in the mood, we fired up Girl Talk’s “All Day”.
For those unfamiliar with the album, it is probably the best party mix you could ever hope to unleash. If you haven’t heard it, swing on by www.illegal-art.net/girltalk to pick it up — It’s a free album, so there is no reason not to check it out! It is a brilliant piece of work that clocks in at 71 minutes and 372 samples!
Getting into Dover, DE was a breeze and it seemed the local powers that be had everything under control at the time of our arrival, which is not surprising as the host huge events for Nascar and I am sure it is an equally challenging process.
SHOULD YOU NEED THEM, HERE ARE THE FESTIVAL MAPS! You never know where you will end up on the worldwide web, so if by chance you made it here and are in need of festival assistance, use the links to the official maps from Firefly Music Festival. The Woodlands map will show where all parking, camping and other accommodations will be located. This map will show you where you will need to go to find parking and what direction you will be coming from. It will also show where the festival grounds are in relation to your parking or camping area. For more specific directions on driving to Firefly, click here. The Official Firefly Festival map will reveal the entire Woodlands festival areal. This will show you the location of all food & beverage tents, attractions and stages! Take a close look to see exactly where you will be jamming out hour by hour. Plan your route, see where your pit stops will be, and get the most out of your Firefly experience. On with the show…
UNCHAINED: AND YA HIT THE GROUND RUNNIN’…
We rolled into Dover, Delaware like nickel sized hail and damaging winds. Well, at least that is how we hope it looked, although it was probably a little less dramatic. We reported to the pre-assigned spot to pick up our credentials and we were on our way to the venue before we knew it. Again, it is clear that the event organizers are on top of their game. To quote Wayne Campbell, they have “crossed the t’s and dot the… lower case j’s.” That is a breathe of fresh air because a lot of these massive festivals and be a real mess behind the scene. Another behind-the-scenes trend I have recently noticed is one that has journalists and photographers wearing laminates from previous concert outings and making it “all about them”. Two can play at that game,my friends. Not to be outdone and never being one to make it all about myself, I took 15 minutes out of our already busy schedule to create our own laminates. Hey, we are potential rubbing elbows with industry bigwigs at a ton of different events this summer, so we needed to look the part!
The “Icon Vs. Icon: Right Next Door To Hell Summer Tour 2012” laminate features artwork by Christine M. Larsen.
Her bio reads: “Originating from the Pine Barrens of central Jersey, Christine is a freelance Illustrator by trade, designing and illustrating for comics, cartoons, book covers, textbooks, textiles, posters and websites. She has worked with clients such as Ape Entertainment, DC Online, Saatchi & Saatchi and Penguin Publishing. Her online comic, La Morte Sisters (written by Tony Trov and John Zito) was nominated for a Harvey Award and her artwork has been featured in licensed properties such as Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. Christine is also a part time instructor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she teaches undergraduate courses for juniors and freshmen. Christine resides with her two cats, her boyfriend and a sawed off shotgun in a heavily fortified North Philadelphia row home where she awaits the zombie apocalypse. If you’re terribly interested in the comings and goings of her life, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter, or read her interesting blog or even more fascinating Tumblr , where you will find sketches, project updates and other fun stuff.”
Check out her official site and learn more about this amazing artist at www.thelarsenproject.com. Thanks for the use of the artwork Christine! To make it up to you, we will be commissioning you to create a poster for our 7th Annual Season of The Witch Film Festival, which is a coproduction with our friend Thomas Bryce of the Shit Movie Fest. Without further ado, here is a glimpse of the laminates — only two every created! Stay Tuned for more updates as the day rolls on! Live from the frontlines!
ENTER THE DRAGONS…
As we arrived at “The Monster Mile”, it wasn’t long before the rains came. Not hard driving rains but the sort of mist that tends to put a damper on most parties. That was not the case with Firefly. As the people streamed across the overpass into the general vicinity of the festival grounds, you could tell that nothing was going to get this crowd down. Quite honestly, I found that amazing. Maybe that is the magic of Firefly — the fact these concertgoers are genuinely inspired by magic of the music. No bitching, no moaning, just good spirits all around. We hit the ATM, like a Tyson blow to the dome and made sure they were stocked with cash. It turns out that they were and the fun can now begin. As we entered, we were treated to the sounds of Heartless Bastards and they crowd was very into it. Even the overcast couldn’t stop, hordes of girls from hulu hooping with a vengeance to the beat of the music. I am not quite sure if that is a revival or a new phenomenon or a revival of sorts — either way, I am into it.
Steve quickly made his way to the official booth of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales. Steve is no stranger to partaking in the spirits and his expert opinion was needed for a review of the official/unofficial brew of this experience, “Firefly Ale”. I followed him that far. He ventured in alone and I have yet to see him since. I will say that I am very impressed that the company constructed a mammoth tent to house there flavorful treats. During our separation, The Wallflowers were playing there new single, “Reboot The Mission,” an awesome, bass heavy song that features Mick Jones of The Clash. The Wallflowers brought out the best in the crowd and faces young and old swayed to the beat of jams both new and old. No small feat in these complicated musical times.
RETURN OF THE MACK…
Steve here! I apologize for being off of the grid for so long, but leave it to a specialty beer to bring me back from obscurity. Dogfish Head Craft Ales has been a company that for years has delivered some of the best craft brews on the market today. Enter the first Firefly Music Festival. The Firefly Music Festival had made it no secret that they have been working with Dogfish Head to bring concert goers a specialty brew to quench their thirsts in the unrelenting heat of mid-July in Dover, DE. Upon arriving to the festival, I made a b-line to the Dogfish Head Brew Tent. I immediately ordered up some of the festival’s signature brew, Firefly Ale, and were not disappointed. The ale is light and and is very active as far as carbonation is concerned. It is an upbeat ale that perfectly compliments the event it was created for. It is definitely a favorite of the fans in the beer tent as the Firefly Ale line tended to be the longest, although the wait in general was only a minute or so! Kudos to Dogfish Head and their quest to bring innovation top the realm of craft brewing. As far as I am concerned Dogfish Head had hit a home run with this beer. I only hope that non-concert attendees will be able to taste this delicious brew.
DAY ONE AT THE MAIN STAGE…
I emerged from the Dogfish Head tent energized as John Legend was taking the stage. It was about this time when you could notice the crowd on the field growing with each passing moment.. OK GO had already laid down an explosive set on The Lawn stage in the middle of the afternoon and the crowd was getting fired up. John Legend’s performance was terrific as he ripped through his impressive catalog and did a great cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”. While the addition of Legend may have looked a little out of place on paper, his style, grace and musicianship proved that he was right at home among this list of performers.
After that set, the masses began to migrate once again with a choice between Bassnectar or Silversun Pickups. The bassheavy dubstep grooves of Bassnectar proved irrestible to me, so I made my way to that area to soak it in. While dubstep is typically what I am into, have to admit this set was impressive. The crowd was into it from the jump and the music seemed to flow through them. Great energy was all around. I wanted to see what the people who were sitting these sets out where up too. My first stop was the “Hammock Hangout”. It is a large area carved out of the woods that features oversized hammock for your lounging pleasure as well as some swings for those looking for “a natural high”. The forest was illuminated by green lights which gave it a terrific ambience. About 75% of the people visiting the hangouts were taking a breather and discussing the festival, the other 25% were just about down for the count from “party overload”. I really enjoyed this feature of the festival. Had the temperatures been as high as they have been lately, it would have been the go-to spot for even more festival goers.
Headlining Day One was the legendary Jack White, who is currently touring in support of his first solo album “Blunderbuss”. As showtime approached, the mist that had been coming and going began to pick up. It didn’t dampen the spirits of attendees as the masses once again descended on the main stage. With minimalistic white can lighting and a tight layout with the musicians, the stage was reminiscent of an old Hollywood set. It was a rocky start of White and company as the mist began to cause issues with the sound. To the credit of the techs involved, they hammered out the issue within only a few minutes. White never missed a beat, diving into his musical past with material from his past bands and offering up plenty of material from the White Stripes such as “Seven Nation Army”, “Hello Operator” and “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”. Jack White never disappoints at a live show and this was no exception.
DAY TWO OF FIREFLY BEGINS…
Day Two of the Firefly Music Festival found us getting an early start. We again entered the festival parking area with no issues. If anything, things we going much smoother for the event staff, who know knew the drill for getting people to where they needed to be. After we parked, we made our way across the overpass to the festival grounds. What amazed us was the see of campsites that filled the area. Whether it was in a tent or an RV, plenty of people had taken advantage of staying at the show and enjoying the camping experience. Those who hadn’t ventured back into the festival were making their own fun playing cornhole, cooking out and slamming back a few cold pints to prepare themselves for another great day of music. The camping experience surely provides a whole new level of adventure to this event and is something Steve and I both agreed we would have to try next year.
Saturday’s weather was again very mild with a few sprinkles falling sporadically throughout the day. It was slightly more humid than day one of the festival but was a great break from the area’s recent sweltering temperatures. Day two, without a doubt, brought out the masses! By our best estimate, the crowd had easily doubled if not tripled from the first day. That being said, it did not feel cramped at all and spirits were high. Our first stop was a visit to The Vineyard, an area we hadn’t checked out on the first day. The Vineyard sits on the far corner of the events grounds, right before visitors round a corner through the woods to visit the Backyard and Firefly stages. It was packed with many small groups of friends taking in a glass of wine or two. It was definitely a classy affair and a great spot to make the decision on what to see next, as it is centrally located between all four stages. We took a few minutes to people watch and one thing was for sure, if you want to make some loot at next year’s event, get yourself into the hula hoop game. Next to girls wearing “Hunger Games” style leather boots, the hula hoop was THE go to accessory at this festival. They were absolutely everywhere and not matter if you were a chick or a dude covered with glitter, you were looking to take one for a spin — literally.
WE GET AROUND…
One of the first full sets we were able to take in on Day Two was by Polica took the Lawn stage and we were not disappointed. The band’s dreamy atmospherics stretched across the lawn attracting droves of fans both new and old. Frontwoman, Channy Leaneagh vocals were hauntingly beautiful as the band offered up songs from their powerful debut album, ‘Give You the Ghost’. I instantly added this band to my “My Download” list and look forward to seeing what they have in store for us in the years to come. While we took in the set, Steve fired up the Firefly App to get more info on the set times. When we had initially discovered the app we were impressed but it proved to be an awesome tool for this concert experience. Kudos to however came up with that idea. We had a little time to burn and we decided to head toward the Firefly Stage to see Michael Franti. Icon Vs. Icon interview Franti last year and we were excited to catch him live for the first time. Onward…
As we rounded the corner to head into The Backyard, we realized we had not ventured down past the stage to check out the hot air ballon rides. Steve was immediately fired up and insistent that we take I hot air balloon ride. I grabbed him by the collar and told him to get ahold of himself — we had a schedule to keep and the Dogfish Head tent was calling my name. We’d be back. Into the Dogfish Head tent we went, once more. We grabbed two pints of their “Midas Touch” and headed out to the stage. It wasn’t long before Michael Franti hit the stage. To be totally honest, this was one of the absolute highlights of the festival, so far. Franti’s music is amazing for an amazing festival and crowd like this. The crowd sang along with him and hung on every word. Several times during the performance, Franti took to the crowd to get closer to the vibe they were putting out. He had made his way back near the soundboard and the entire crowd was facing him, away from the stage. Michael Franti is one of those guys who puts everything into a live performance and this was no exception. If he is an artist you are not familiar with, you should remedy that as soon as possible. Note: A few hours after his set, we stumbled onto Michael and company once more backstage playing a massive pickup game of soccer. For the record, he is almost as good on the field as he is on stage.
THE CHALLENGES OF DOING THIS LIVE…
It was our intention to do as much live blogging as possible during the show. We have to admit it is a bit of struggle to make it everywhere you need to be and make updates that do the show justice. It has been a lot of fun and hopefully, it is something we will do more often in the future. One thing is for certain, we need more power, WiFi, an extra set of hands and a photo pass.
BACK TO THE HOT DAY TWO ACTION…
We spent the morning exploring the grounds and by the afternoon, we felt we had to make our way to see industry legends, Cake. It seemed a lot of people, the majority of people, had the same idea! It was a mass exodus from the surrounding areas as the band readied themselves to hit the stage. Their set was impressive and consisted of a sting of alternative hits and crowd favorites. The crowd was super into it and were singing along at the top of their lungs. It was good to see a band like this get the love they so rightly deserve. Some of the greatest moments included performances of “Sheep Go To Heaven” and “Rock and Roll Lifestyle”.
Modest Mouse was next on the main stage and much like Cake, they drew a massive crowd to their stage well before showtime. Highlights of their performance included “Float On” and “Dashboard”. It was around this time when we headed backstage to recharge the equipment and catch some of that impromptu Michael Franti pickup soccer game we mentioned earlier. There were plenty of family, friends and random bands members involved and although I am not sure there was a clear winner, a good time was had by all.
By the time we took a quick breather and got our recharge, it was time for Saturday’s main attraction —The Killers! As a long-time fan of the band, Steve was excited to see them once again in a live setting. The band had only played a handful of dates in the past few years and anticipation for that they were bringing to the table was at an all-time high. Frontman Brandon Flowers sounded better than ever on the band’s super hits such as “Somebody Told Me”, “Mr. Brightside” and “All These Things That I Have Done”. They even wet the crowd’s appetite for new music with a performance of their new single, “Runaways”. The show was top notch and featured great video and pyro that would bring a smile to the face of the pickiest concert reviewer. There is on thing I learned from their performance that I will remember for quite some time — they can get the people moving!
All in all, Day Two of Firefly was one of the most satisfying concert events I have had the pleasure of attending in year. This festival truly is one of the best things going on the summer concert scene. I am sure that anyone in attendance would agree! (and they did because we asked a ton of people!)
DAY THREE: The Adventures Continue…
The sun finally broke free of the clouds and we knew it would be a great day at Firefly. We started the day off by visiting the Arcade, which boasts a plethora of classic video games, free of charge, for your gaming enjoyment. We definitely enjoyed this feature, as did many a festival attendee, as the lines were steady throughout the weekend. Our first must-catch of the day was Cold War Kids, who drew a large crowd to the main stage for a powerful set. The band has a great stage presence and was truly a treat to catch in a live setting like this festival. Notable songs played included “Hang Me Out To Dry”, “Audience”, “Louder Than Ever” and “Hospital Beds”. The crowd was still feeling the vibe, even the battle worn campers who had been in the elements for three days. Only a few of them showed signs of needing a vacation for their vacation! Speaking of vacations, we finally had Steve take his hot air balloon ride, as he had been pestering us like a kid since he saw it. Of the ride, he had this to say “It was definitely worth trying out. I am not a heights guy but I have always loved hot air balloons. It is a cool feature and more than just eye candy for the festival. Overall, a great experience.”
While Steve was taking flight, I checked out Death Cab for Cutie. Ben Gibbard and company we terrific and delivered a great performance of “I Will Possess Your Heart.” The hits didn’t stop there and they delivered, in my opinion, was one of the best performances of the festival. Of course, the best performance of Sunday went to The Flaming Lips. The band brought their amazing live energy to the festival and truly amazed the crowd. There is nothing quite like a Flaming Lips set, so if you have the chance, check them out on tour when it rolls into your town. On the other side of the festival, Girl Talk rocked the crowd with his his mashup-remix style dj set on the Backyard stage. We had been looking forward to this for the length of the festival. If you came to this festival to get your dance on, the Backyard stage was definitely the place to let your freak flag fly throughout the weekend. Girl Talk was a great example of this, as he had the crowd moving at a fever pitch and didn’t let up until his set was over. The end of that set lead to the masses descending on the Firefly Stage one last time for The Black Keys, who were the headlining act for Sunday night. The band certainly did not disappoint as Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney ripped effortlessly through most of their hits including “Howlin’ for You”, “Tighten Up”, “Lonely Boy” and “Gold on the Ceiling”.
With that amazing performance, another three day concert experience was in the books — and boy, did it make an impact! Firefly Music Festival was expertly run and certainly laid the groundwork for an exciting future as a must attend event! The 2012 festival drew an estimated 30,000 guests daily and event organizers have already announced the three-day event will return to Dover in June 2013. The dates of next year’s festival will be June 21-23, so be sure to mark your calendar! The lineup of musical acts has not yet been announced. Pre-sale tickets for the festival are available on the event’s website this week.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.