The concert actually really sucked. It had some good bands, but the Black Keys were a shitty choice. I can't wait until they're gone.
Firefly Music Festival 2012: Polica, The Knocks, Yeasayer, The Killers
I’ll only say this as an intro: It’s about damn time the East Coast had a great music festival.
The long journey from parking lot to festival grounds made me feel like I was on a long march to some unknown and exciting place. I felt like a sheep in the herd, and from an aerial view, that’s what we would have looked like. The crowd surrounding me was a mix of hippies, bros, patriotic bros, hula hoopers, bros’ girlfriends, chubby frat guys, and hipsters. We were heading somewhere. Somewhere not quite real, but not quite imaginary. What was this place? What would it be like? Who would we be when it was all over?
The weather for our journey was remarkably mild and pleasant. A few raindrops, but great cloud cover from an angry summer sun. It was indoor temperatures with lush outdoor, green spaces. Fresh woodland air. This was Dover, Delaware’s inaugural Firefly Festival.
The music. The sweet, sweet music. Polica, The Knocks, Young The Giant — jealous, yet? — Modest Mouse, Yeasayer, and The Killers. I am sensing your jealousy through my computer right now.
First up: Polica. I won’t spend too much time here because I very recently reviewed their show at Johnny Brenda’s. I was very happy to hear Polica sound just as crisp and epic in a massive outdoor space as they did when they were in cozy JB’s. Lead singer, Channy Leaneagh danced and smiled as she sang on stage. She looked as if she could have been a festival-goer herself the way she was dressed and seemed genuinely excited and happy to be there. My gut about her being a regular-joe festival-goer was confirmed when I saw her and the rest of the band hanging out amongst the crowd to watch the Modest Mouse show.
Now for The Knocks. My absolute favorite surprise and so, so wonderful. It was worth missing the oh-so-hot GROUPLOVE to see The Knocks. I’m sure people had fun at the GROUPLOVE show, but there is no way their music got the crowd going like the Knocks. I had a feeling that not many people would come to The Knocks show being in the same time slot as GROUPLOVE and my feeling was correct. There was about 200 of us all dancing together at three in the afternoon on an overcast day in Delaware. There are times when perfect music makes a place feel like heaven. The music came bouncing out at us and wrapped us all up in a bear hug while whispering, “dance fiercer, child, you’re safe here.” If they come to Philly, I will be the first in line to get a ticket. Ideally, they’d perform at a venue like Voyeur under the Making Time promotional umbrella. High energy, fast, dance music does not get any better than this. Even the usually stoic security guards at the front of the stage couldn’t help but tap their feet. If anyone in the crowd was standing still, they were probably dead.
Young the Giant
Young The Giant was, well, giant. The charismatic lead singer had the whole crowd swooning as he sang into an old-fashioned 50′s style microphone. They are just a solid rock and roll band.
Modest Mouse was as beautiful as expected.
Yeasayer. Of course I love Yeasayer. What other band can combine reggae, psychadelic, vocal harmonizing, and tribal beats all in one delicious sound that goes down like sugar? They’re brilliant and amazing and played all of my favorites of theirs which is why I don’t understand what happened. Maybe it’s not meant for me to understand. All I know is my ears were angry at me. I want to blame it on some kind of technical sound issue because aside from this one complaint their performance was outstanding. You see, there was this one electronic bass drum sound they used throughout their set that would drown out every other sound and made the hair on my arms hurt. Even with earplugs, I had to cover my ears to avoid brain damage from this one particular sound. No one else seemed bothered by it, but maybe they were too high or drunk to notice? It made me very, very sad. I can’t even talk about it anymore. Moving on.
Finally, The Killers. Where do I begin with this show? I’ll begin at the end the way a good Killers song would. A show has never moved me to tears until The Killers at the Firefly Festival in Dover, Delaware on July 21, 2012. Mark it in your calendar as the anniversary of Emily Sheetz crying at a show. I’m not much of a cryer, but goddamn this show got to me. Brandon Flowers is a gifted showman. His Las Vegas roots have served him well in that respect. The rest of the band members are immensely talented so the band as a whole was so coherent and tuned in with one another. That sort of dynamic can only be achieved after years of playing together. Do you remember when you first heard “Somebody Told Me” back in 2004 (8 years ago, holy $hit) and you couldn’t get enough? Radio stations (remember those?) played it every five minutes and no one seemed to mind. Here was a band whose sound has not been replicated. I’m sure they’ve tried, but I can’t name one. They deliciously mix together Joy Division Brit rock with an amalgam of classic American sounds. What other country would produce lyrics like “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier”?
Alas, The Killers don’t need such an extensive description. We all know and love them and that was one of the magic ingredients to make this particular show so great. Imagine tens of thousands of people all singing and dancing together to songs they know and love. They weren’t a band on this night, they were a uniting force. Not knowing the lyrics to “Mr. Brightside” is like not knowing the Pledge of Allegiance.
The final ingredient was a spectacular visual effects show. The entire back stage was lit with various visual effects and movies from trippy spinning circles to Ian Curtis himself. And fireworks. Oh, the fireworks! Real fireworks during the epic rises of songs. The Killers masterfully know how to create a stirring moment within a song. You know what I’m talking about: the “If you can’t hold on, hold on” moments. The Killers personified epic glory.
You might be thinking, “Emily, you seem different. Like you’ve changed somehow.” To which I’ll give you a gentle smile and a nod. Then I’ll suggest you go to next year’s festival because until you experience it for yourself, I would never be able to truly explain it.
great review! finally i hear someone mention The Knocks. One of my favorite up and coming electronic acts, I thought they totally knocked it out of the park saturday. I was feeling pretty tired after being out of my mind friday night, but after that set i was ready to go! and the killers were just the definition of epic. one of the most incredible sets of music i have ever seen, and by far the high point of the entire festival. really enjoyed your review, can't wait for next year