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Posts Tagged ‘Firefly Festival’
02 Aug
2012


By Matt Arena

After their early set at Firefly Festival, we got the chance to sit down with Dan Reynolds (lead singer) and D. Wayne Sermon (guitarist) of Imagine Dragons, to talk about their debut album, what it’s like being a band in Las Vegas, and their first ever TV appearance.

You guys have really taken off lately, and though I hate the term “buzz band” but if it applied to anybody it would be you, what’s it like being a buzz band?

D. Wayne: It’s rewarding. We’re glad it seems that way to the public, from our perspective we’re just trying to build something organically. For us it’s been a steady, slow incline as far as fans and popularity goes.

Dan: A three year build.

D. Wayne: We’re so grateful, how many bands get to have that said about them?

Dan: It’s a really incredible thing to come to a place you’ve never been before and see tons of people singing the songs. It’s pretty surreal. We’re both just a little bit in shock, it’s like “wow, people know the music out there and we haven’t even been here yet.” It’s very cool, we feel very humble and grateful.

D. Wayne: There’s a lot of bands that work just as hard and they don’t have their songs on the radio so we always try to keep that in mind. Every show we play we try to have our expectations a little bit low, we think “oh maybe no one will come,” that way we’re surprised when people actually do and know the words. It’s a shock every time.

I saw you guys on Leno, how was that?

Dan: Yeah we played Leno on Monday, that was unreal. We all grew up watching late night television and Leno is one of the legends. Being able to meet him and hear him say he’d been listening to the song was just like wow. He’s so nice.

How was the actual performance, it must have been a lot different.

Dan: When we came in everyone warned us that it’s a really stiff audience and I think we just got lucky. The audience was really reactive and you can actually hear them in the recording. There was a lot of energy in the room. So we fed off that energy and hopefully it translated through.

D. Wayne: We kinda have this singular experience as a band, since we grew up in Vegas playing casinos so people don’t really come in listening to you. We have the whole ‘non receptive’ thing down because we’re so used to it. People were pulling slot machines or trying to count cards so we always had to fight for their attention. I think that ended up being a plus for us because we learned how to keep the energy on stage no matter what was going on out there.


(photo credit: Ken Grand-Pierre)

You’re currently recording a new album, correct?

Dan: Our debut album, Night Visions, comes out September 4th and we couldn’t be more excited with how it turned out. It’s being mixed right now, it’s all finished. We just feel like it’s a good reflection of what the band is, it’s our first statement as to who Imagine Dragons is so the audience can wrap their heads around it and understand what our sound is. I think the EP is a good reflection of what the album is, just on a broader scale.

There’s been 4 EP’s released before you started work on the album, was that a timing thing or do you just prefer EP’s to albums?

Dan: We just wanted to be ready before we did our album, to feel like we understood who we were as a band before we tried to tell other people who were are. You only get to do your first album once and it’s a pretty big step for a band so we wanted to make sure we were ready. For us that took three years, for other bands maybe not but it’s worked well for us.

In looking at some past interviews, you’re almost always asked about the band name. What do you think the fixation with everyone needing to know the meaning behind the band name?

D. Wayne: There’s a certain mystic quality to our name I guess.

Dan: I think it’s such a unique name that people just wanna understand how it’s involved with the art. The great thing about being an artist is that there’s so many different avenues to be able to express yourself, whether it’s music or the visual on your artwork or the name of the band, I think people just like the understand all the different parts of an art project. It’s cool that people ask and we tell that about how it’s an anagram, we don’t tell them what the anagram was, but it’s a nice thing for us. As an artist you expose yourself so much in your lyrics or your music that it’s nice to have something that we keep private as a band that has special meaning to us.

What was it like trying to build a fanbase in a place like Vegas where there’s so much other stuff going on?

D. Wayne: I moved to Vegas to start a band with Dan. I had never been there before so I didn’t know what to expect. There’s an underground movement, an art scene, that I had no idea about. In that scene there’s painters, musicians and bands that are up and coming that I had no idea about. There’s a festival the first Friday of every month downtown that I didn’t know about. The environment, there’s nothing like it in the world, no other place like Las Vegas.

Dan: It was good for us because we got to play a lot of cover gigs in the very beginning to make ends meet. So we’d do sets that were 50% covers and 50% originals. I think that was good in developing the band because we were able to study how a lot of our favorite bands wrote music, like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin, a lot of the legends. It was very important for us to analyze them and grow as artists. You can always grow and learn from others so I think that helped develop our sound a lot.

What kind of bands did you cover?

Dan: Rolling Stones, The Cure; we did newer stuff too like MGMT…

D. Wayne: Franz Ferdinand. Basically stuff that we loved but would get a crowd going as well so we tried to ride that line.

Dan: We had to pick more popular music, we listen to a lot of bands that are a little less well known as well. But you can’t really play those to a Vegas crowd so we find the median. Songs that we felt were eclectic that we grew up listening to and loved.

Are there any other bands you’re looking forward to seeing today?

D. Wayne: Tons. This might have the most impressive resume of artists we’ve seen so far.

Dan: Girl Talk, Cold War Kids, Grouplove, Jack White, Young the Giant, The Black Keys, The Killers; basically all the bands that are playing. We really wanted to see Passion Pit but they dropped out I guess.

Pick up Imagine Dragons’s EP on iTunes or Amazon MP3

www.imaginedragonsmusic.com

01 Aug
2012

By Matt Arena

Just prior to their set at the main stage at Firefly Festival, we were able to sit down with bassist Payam Doostzadeh from Young the Giant to talk about touring, plans for the second album, and how their experience changes with growing popularity.

You guys have had a really big year, is there one point in specific that you think was a really big jumping off point?

Yeah, everyone points to the VMAs as our big break and in a way it is because that brought us into the mainstream and an audience we would never really appeal to otherwise. So that definitely jump-started everything. But had it not been for the relentless touring and playing to no one for years we wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity. There were other bands bigger than us they were considering for that show and they went with us, I don’t know why, but we kept going and kept playing more shows so it was definitely more gradual.

Right around then you had the tour with Incubus too, do you think that helped?

Yeah, I don’t know if that expanded our fan base as much as the VMAs did or radio support we’ve had, but definitely opened us to a different crowd as people who listen to Incubus might not have heard of us, most of them never heard of us. It was cool, those guys are so great and for the last month we’ve been living at the guitarist’s place in Malibu while he’s on tour in Europe. He’s got a home studio and we’ve been writing a bunch of new songs. We’re not there anymore but he was nice enough to have us there.

You guys are really close with a bunch of other bands, Grouplove, Cage the Elephant, Walk the Moon, Sleeper Agent, how’d that come about?

Just from playing shows I guess. We played a couple festivals with Cage and Grouplove and just ended up becoming really good friends. We brought Grouplove on tour with us and we actually just saw them on the other stage, we were all having lunch and caught up again. Festivals are so much fun because it’s like summer camp but a one-day thing so everyone gets to be reunited and there’s food; it’s fun.

Have there been any plans for album 2?

Yeah it’s probably half done right now, we have maybe another two months of writing and recording at the end of the year. We’re gonna try to get it out by next Spring/Summer.

Now that you’re a lot bigger than when you put out the first album, have the expectations or experiences of being a bigger band influenced the writing?

I don’t think the fact that we’re a bigger band has influenced it, I think our travels have. It’s very cliché that people say the sophomore albums influenced by travels but it’s true. If your first album does well and you have a chance to do your second album, you’re going to be writing about the road because that’s what inspires you. The fact that we have a larger audience now is an important factor and we’re trying to expand our musical palette. We’re trying to bring it out and have different types of tracks, like seven-minute tracks, two and a half minute tracks, and just different styles. That’s really important to us, showing people that we’re not just a radio band that has ‘Cough Syrup’ and ‘My Body’ on the radio. We have other songs and that’s not just what we’re about so it’s gonna be our chance to prove to the world that this is what we’re about.

What’s it like going from playing tiny rooms to now huge clubs?

It’s incredible, man. To sell out these theaters, do two nights at large venues is a dream come true. We’ve so fortunate and appreciative of the opportunity. And glad that we’ve all been able to stick through it and stay together, they’re like my brothers. We all get along and we’re all at the same stage in our life, we all have long-time girlfriends and a lot of things are very similar so it helps.

Has there been any adaptation of your playing style now that you’re in such bigger venues?

As far as where the amps and everything are dialed in, like how hard I’m hitting the strings, it’s all the same. It just comes down to your front-of-house sound guy to amplify everything and make it fill that room. Whether you’re playing an amphitheater or you’re playing a hundred person club, you just do whatever you do and then they make it loud.

Which do you prefer, bigger or smaller shows?

Both sizes have their perks, playing in a small, two hundred person, sweaty club is intimate and hot. It’s uncomfortable but it’s awesome to feel that energy. As opposed to when you’re playing in front of ten thousand people, especially if it’s not your own crowd like when we were opening for Incubus, people are walking around like they don’t really care so you have to play even harder to win their attention. Whereas like in a club that’s sold out, they can’t not notice the band playing. It’s a little different, but we still go at it one hundred and ten percent no matter where we’re playing.

This summer you’ve hit up almost all the major festival stops, what about the environment of a festival appeals to you?

Festival environment is definitely the most fun. It’s a break from the normal routine of playing a headlining or support tour where you see the same people everyday and play the same songs everyday, everything is more or less the same. But when you go to a festival different bands are playing and you get to see and meet other bands, you can go into the crowd and just wander. It’s more of a real musical experience because you never know what’s gonna happen, who’s gonna stop by. It’s not as planned as a normal show.

You plan on hanging around to catch any other bands?

Definitely. Gonna try to catch Lupe, and we’ve seen Grouplove a million times but I want to catch their set. I’ve never seen The Killers live and I listened to them a lot in high school so I’m definitely going to watch them and maybe catch Modest Mouse.

One last question, what’s the best and worst thing about being on tour?

Best thing about being on tour is meeting people and seeing the world. I’ve been to every state in the country except for Alaska so it’s good to have that experience. No matter what I had done in my previous life, I would never have been able to travel and understand people from different cultures. That’s definitely a huge highlight. The worst thing about being on tour is being away from home; I miss my girlfriend, I miss my dog, I miss my family, I miss the beach, and that’s really hard but it’s part of the job.

Pick up Young the Giant’s self-titled album on on iTunes, Amazon MP3, CD, Vinyl

31 Jul
2012

By Matt Arena

Minutes before their killer set at Firefly Festival we chatted with Walk The Moon’s Nicholas Petricca, Kevin Ray, Eli Maiman, and Sean Waugaman about the recording process on the new album, festival vibes, and their unofficial music videos.

You’ve had a pretty crazy couple of months, with TV performances and the album release.

Nick: The TV stuff’s been pretty surreal and we don’t get nervous for a lot of things but the TV stuff is pretty nuts. And you grow up watching bands on live TV and that’s definitely something to tell the grandkids.

With the new album you re-recorded a couple songs off your independent release, what was that selection process like?

Eli: It was kind of a collaborative process between us and Ben Allen, our producer. Really what we wanted to do was put together the ten songs that made the most sense together and created the most cohesive product and complete though. It was a painful process because we did record a few more songs beyond what you hear on the record. Ultimately we feel that we came up with a product we set out to make.

It definitely sounds a lot fuller, especially on ‘I Can Lift a Car’ and ‘Quesadilla,’ and much more cohesive to how these songs are played live. Was that an intentional sound or something you stumbled upon in recording?

Nick: One of the primary intentions going in to record this record was to represent what we do live, capture the live vibe and put it on a CD. If anything, that’s what we felt lacked from the independent record so with a producer and the studio at our disposal we really wanted to take advantage of that.

There are even a couple songs off that independent release that are still in the rotation live, are there any plans to release those?

Nick: It’s certainly a possibility to re-record those songs, yeah.

Eli: We actually did re-record ‘The Liftaway’ for the new record and we ended up wanting more out of the recording than what had gotten. It’s a tough song to record so who knows maybe we’ll keep trying till we get it right.


Nick and Eli from Walk The Moon (credit: Ken Grand-Pierre)


With the release of the album you did a series of videos for VEVO, how did that come about?

Kevin: We had been working with VEVO to come up with a unique way to premiere the album and since a lot of people discovered us through videos the idea was to keep doing that. It’s such a fun thing we enjoy doing ourselves and it’s a way that we can keep it in house. We used just my Go-Pro camera that I had and we didn’t have anybody edited it really; it was just us on the road. VEVO was like “just do a bunch of music videos for the songs,” which sounded like a great idea but we only had a week but I think what we came up with was a blast. It couldn’t have gone better I think.

There’s a vibe that you just kinda turned the camera on and let whatever happen. Almost like a mini-tour documentary in a way, would you ever consider something like that?

Kevin: Tour documentary seems like what’s going on all the time. It seems like now that the album’s out and we’re really going hard at radio, our lives are being documented in many different ways. But I don’t about an official tour documentary maybe there’s something there. I know that I keep a diary of our travels.

Eli: I think it’s worth mentioning that the tour documentary would have been a lot more interesting before we started doing well. Because we did a lot more partying and fun stuff back then. Now it’s a whole lot of work and seeing us in a different studio every day. So the documentary’s is getting worse and worse every day so maybe we should hop on that.

Kevin: A retroactive documentary.

Do you notice that festival sets go down better than standard gigs? You have a sound that plays well in festival environments

Sean: It depends on the gig. A tiny gig can be as fun as a giant festival gig where you’re playing for thousands of people. It’s really about the energy in the room and how much fun everybody’s having.

Kevin: I think what makes the festival vibe different is that all the festivalgoers are all connecting on this different level, like they’re all here to see music. Only to see music and hang out and meet people and enjoy music. There’s camping and multiple days, it’s almost like going to summer camp but you’re seeing concerts all day long. That’s different vibe and I think people maybe feel a little more open to see different music and discover new music if they’re at a festival.

Walk The Moon’s debut album is out now on iTunes, Amazon MP3, CD

30 Jul
2012

By Matt Arena

After their wild set earlier on the third and final day of Firefly Festival, we sat down to chat with Graham Ulicny, Ryan Engelberger, and Poof Daunghty of Reptar to talk about twitter, touring, and their reputation as one of the craziest live bands out there.

*NOTE: Some backstory on the first question. The night before Reptar took to twitter basically all night tweeting, hashtagging, and posting photos with the simple caption “having a blast…” and then wherever they were currently partying.

So…did you guys have a blast last night?

Graham: (laughs) Yeah, we’ve going to send out a formal apology to Twitter and to the world and to…Adele for all the things we said on the internet last night. We’re not going to take it back, we’re just going to say “hey guys, sorry we had a blast last night. We should have told you in advance.”

Like a blast warning?

Graham: Yes, next time we’ll send out a blast warning and you’ll know when Reptar is about to have a blast on Twitter. Last night we all had our social media cherries popped. We just went crazy with it, we went to the next level. We agreed to it too, we’re like “ya know what, we’re just gonna go to the next level of social media and see what happens.” And when you go that far, it’s kinda hard to come back. I’m talking to you right now, but what I really want to be doing it tweeting at you.

We should just do a tweet interview.

Graham: YES. That happens.

Walk the Moon did something like that not too long ago.

Andrew: Walk the Moon did that?

Graham: They are on another level of social media. They have achieved level 35. They are not having a blast like we’re having a blast right now though.

I caught a show on your latest tour with Grouplove, how did that go for you guys?

Ryan: The tour was cool, they’re really nice people. We missed them last night, so we were just hanging out on Twitter. That counts right?

Graham: They were having a blast too. They’re really great, great people.

Poof: It was a super great tour, we had a blast on it.

Was that the first big, full-on nationwide tour Reptar?

Graham: I think our first full nationwide tour was in October of last year with Foster the People and Cults. And then we had our own tour earlier this year that was pretty extensive and nationwide.

You have a reputation for being a crazy live band, do you think that’s changed our show at all or at least how you guys approach it?

Graham: That’s the only way we’ve every performed together is to be that energetic. To me that’s just how it is.

Ryan: You would have to get some real levels of self-conscious analysis to try to determine if that affected us or not. William (keyboardist) kind of always just walks around like that and shaking that much.

Graham: Man, he is the impetus of that. It’s impossible to play that music with William and not do that.

I think the shorts help, he seemed to be drawing his power from the cutoff camoflauge he had on earlier.

Graham: Yes, he does draw power. Super Saiyan style.

Reptar’s debut album Body Faucet is out now on iTunes, Amazon MP3, CD

27 Jul
2012

By Matt Arena

Drawing the festival to a close, Sunday at Firefly Festival’s inaugural weekend did so in a spectacular fashion. With bands that ranged from unstoppable dancing machines to more relaxed indie acts, there’s no doubt that the final day had a little something for everybody.

REPTAR

Putting themselves in the self described genre of “disco dust” (more of a parody on the recent obsession of band’s having to categorize their sound), Reptar are anything but your average band. Their quickly growing reputation as one of the most energetic live acts precedes them, and having recently just seen them on tour with Grouplove, it’s a worthy title. But their Firefly set was on another level. Playing an early 1:00pm slot and with the sun on their side, a rarity over the course of the weekend, they definitely played one of the wildest sets of the day. Right out of the gate guitarist Jace Bartet came out dancing like a man possessed, as we would later learn he pulls the ferocious dancing power from his cutoff camouflage shorts. Add to that lead singer Graham Ulicny’s penchant for never staying in one place for more than five seconds, and it’s pretty easy to see how the crowd could become so enraptured with the band. Much like my first introduction to the band, many were there simply because of Reptar’s reputation and recent tour with fellow Firefly artists Grouplove. No more than 2 minutes into the set and almost the entirely of the crowd was dancing and jumping just as crazily as the band on stage. The set comprised mostly of songs off the band’s debut album, ‘Body Faucet,’ the pop-rock-Caribbean-indie genre bending mash-up of sounds came off incredibly well. It’s no wonder the band classifies themselves as “disco dust,” it’s really the only thing that makes sense after seeing a Reptar show. Tracks like ‘Sebastian’ and especially ‘Please Don’t Kill Me,’ as the frenzied island-rock drumming all but forced the crowd to move their feet. During any given Reptar song it seems as if there are a thousand different things occurring on-stage, so all you can really do is just brace yourself and allow the music to take you. Definitely living up to their ever-growing reputation as one of the most energetic live bands, the only thing on anyone’s mind after a Reptar set is this; disco dust. See them and it’ll make sense to you too.

AWOLNATION

Up immediately after Reptar was Red Bull Records pioneers, AWOLNATION. Being the main driving force behind the energy drink’s new venture into the music industry, they’ve grown pretty rapidly since the release of their debut album Megalithic Symphony a little over a year ago. Their unique blend of electronic rock, a refreshing true blend of the two styles, and their ability to put on an amazing live show has helped them establish a strong enough fan base to have headlined multiple tours already. Lead singer Aaron Bruno has made it a festival set regular to crowd surf toward the end of the set. Quite literally. As in he actually gets on a surfboard, balances himself, and surfs above the supporting arms of the crowd. His raspy, growling vocal style sounds great on record and surprisingly is even stronger on stage. Bruno’s really able to showcase this on ‘Sail,’ one of the band’s biggest and best songs. Making multiple trips into the crowd, allowing them to scream the “blame in on my A.D.D.” line (which is possibly the best scream-along line EVER) into the mic, there’s a real connection between AWOLNATION and the crowd. From the first song encouraging them to crowd surf, it’s pretty clear that they’re not the type of band you sway and nod your head to. It’s is an incredibly refreshing thing to see when so many new bands try so hard to live up to the “indie” label, afraid to show emotion on stage and consequently fail to illicit anything but a slow head bob from the crowd. Not so with AWOLNATION.

COLD WAR KIDS

When you first look at Cold War Kids, you probably don’t expect to hear a sound that’s as much soul as it is indie rock. In short, they take a lot of people by surprise. Or maybe “took” is the operative word. Having blown up since their very first album, Cold War Kids quickly became a household name on the alt-rock scene. Landing them on the main stage at Firefly for a midday set, they garnered a pretty large crowd who seemed to love every minute of the band’s hour-plus set. Though the sound mixing was a bit low, making it hard for lead singer Nathan Willett’s powerful voice to really shine, the band still performed great. Willett’s staggeringly strong vocals and the poppy drumming of Matt Aveiro are the backbone of what makes their music so good, and that definitely applies to the live show. Songs like ‘Rubidoux’ and ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’ received huge reactions for the crowd, which reached farther back than it had for anyone on that stage thus far. Though it wasn’t the type of set that drove the crowd into a jumping frenzy, they without a doubt enjoyed Cold War Kids as they left to a cheer that lingered far after they had exited the stage.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

Though not touring at the moment, Firefly was still able to procure indie juggernauts Death Cab for Cutie. Opening with the full 8+ minute version of ‘I Will Possess Your Heart,’ the band showcased a set comprised of mostly deep cuts. As a fan of Death Cab for a while now, it was great to see them dig into their catalogue and play songs that might not to familiar to casual fans. Especially at a festival, where the crowds tend to be a bit causal as opposed to headlining gigs. Battling a cold, lead singer Ben Gibbard didn’t seem to be slowed down at all, spending his time between vocal, guitar, piano, and even drum duties. The material from last year’s Codes and Keys sounded great, with songs like ‘You Are a Tourist’ growing much heavier and bolder than they sound on album. One would think that Death Cab for Cutie would be a pretty reserved act, the one you sit back and watch instead of really getting into, but they’re a different band live. The bass lines of Nick Harmer were much more evident as he plays an integral part of the ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’ extended intro, which is pretty much all Harmer plugging along the instantly recognizable notes. Long-time fans of the band were treated from tracks as far back as their very first album. ‘Amputations,’ ‘A Movie Script Ending,’ and ‘Marching Bands of Manhattan’ are all rarities for the band, and ones they’ve made an effort of not forgetting. With seven total albums, it’s impressive to see them not abandon the older tracks as to not alienate casual fans, something that bands of their caliber tend to do. The major highlight of the set was ‘We Looked Like Giants.’ Not only a fantastic (and rare) song in it’s own right, they extended it with a 10 minute long interlude that sees Gibbard take up drumming duties on a special mini-kit brought out just for this song. It shows the confidence Death Cab has in the abnormal nature of their live element. Most bands would shy away from material 7 seven albums ago and wouldn’t dare play two outros that combine over 15 minutes in length. It’s what makes Death Cab for Cutie such a great live band. They craft a set that isn’t comprised of all hits, even though they did make sure to pack a few in there, and aren’t afraid to get a little weird. It’s hard to walk away from a set like this unimpressed and there’s no way anyone at Firefly could have been anything but blown away with what Death Cab for Cutie did on the main stage.

THE FLAMING LIPS

Having never seen The Flaming Lips before, they’ve got quite the reputation preceding them. Known for the effort they put into production behind their shows, and not just complicated lighting rigs and visuals (though they did have a giant circular screen behind them), but by far less common means. Starting off with a Wizard of Oz-esque mob of Dorothy’s and Scarecrow’s on each side of the stage, it was clear that they would be anything but droll. During their first song, ‘Race for the Prize,’ they were shooting confetti for what felt like the entirety of the song. Seriously. There wasn’t a moment during the first 10 minutes where confetti wasn’t falling from the sky. Not only looking incredibly cool, there’s nothing that makes a crowd yell louder than shooting out confetti. In addition to the individual hand cannons they each had on stage, two crewmembers had massive tubes firing out fog and confetti, creating a rainbow colored haze. Add to that the spectrum of colors on the giant circular lighting rig/screen behind them and it felt more like a Tim Burton movie than a festival set. Lead singer Wayne Coyne then whipped out a megaphone, one would assume it would be used for vocals on a song, but that’s boring to The Flaming Lips. A heavy blue smoke starting pouring out of the megaphone as Coyne traipsed about the stage, creating a trail of permeating blue behind him. The trippy visual element aside, they sounded great as well. When a band has been around since 1986 with over 10 albums, it’s easy to just mail it in and play without much heart. This is the exact opposite description of The Flaming Lips. If anything they try harder than most bands half their age with twice their energy, and it shows. Right before ‘Is David Bowie Dying??,’ Wayne Coyne showed off his very unique take on crowd surfing. Inflating and then stepping inside a massive, transparent ball, he was rolled onto the barrier and them went end over end as hundreds of arms rolled him throughout the crowd. It was a live spectacle unlike any other. There are bands that spend millions of dollars on elaborate stage designs with lasers and complicated visuals, but Flaming Lips out-shined all of them with a much more creative take on their production. All other bands take note, if you want to be trippy, you’re not going to do it better than The Flaming Lips.

THE BLACK KEYS

Unless you’ve been living under a soundproof rock for the past 2 years, you know who The Black Keys are. Having been around since 2001, they finally broke through to massive mainstream success, topped off by two sold out nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This is an impressive feat for any band, but especially one like The Black Keys who don’t first hit you as an arena rock band. It goes to show exactly how popular they’ve become. Headlining arenas and now closing out festivals, the jam-packed crowd was proof of why the band is on such high profile live slots. Opening with ‘Howlin for You,’ they set the tone early, grabbing the crowd immediately with such a big hit so early. The modern dirty blues style refined (and some could say pioneered) by The Black Keys transfers live quite well, especially so at a festival setting. One might think at first that a two man band may seem a bit over their head on such a large stage, but if anything they used it to their advantage. It helped adding two touring members to beef up their sound, but the sheer presence they have on stage is undeniable. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have chemistry that’s beyond refined, at times it just seems like they’re going along with totally improvised jams and showed off how naturally loose they are on stage. The perfect choice to end the three day festival, The Black Keys arguably had the best well received set of the entire weekend and had a trail of cheers echoing as they left the stage.

Head over to FireFlyFestival.com for info on next year’s festival!

REPTAR

COLD WAR KIDS

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

AWOLNATION

THE FLAMING LIPS

26 Jul
2012

By Matt Arena

After an incredibly successful first day, Firefly had even more in store for day 2. With doors opening at 11 am, there was much more music to be packed into the schedule and if you weren’t there first thing in the morning, you may have missed some of the best sets of the entire festival.

IMAGINE DRAGONS

It says a lot when a band can put on a killer set with one of the first performances of the day at an all day festival like Firefly. It certainly can’t be easy playing so early in the morning when most people aren’t there. But none of this seemed to faze Imagine Dragons. The Las Vegas four piece has generated a lot of buzz lately, appearing on many people’s radar after their wildly popular set at Coachella. And their Firefly set did more than impress. It blew people away, almost literally. Easily the loudest band out of all three days (probably due to the massive bass drum lead singer Dan Reynolds was beating upon), they definitely blasted the sleep from the festival goers eyes Saturday morning. ‘Radioactive’ is an absolute monster of a live track. Starting off with light acoustic strumming and harmonizing, one may think, “ugh, here’s another restrained indie song,” but then the bass drops and what comes feels like the love child of an AWOLNATION and fun. song. The aforementioned giant bass drum plays a large role here, as Reynolds smashes against it as hard as he can, providing a boom that should register on the Richter scale. Thought it may have only been noon, the crowd didn’t seem sluggish one bit. From the drop in ‘Radioactive,’ they were bouncing and singing as if they were watching a headliner. Bands tend to pull larger crowds at festivals, just naturally as there are more people than standard gigs, but with Imagine Dragons set it seemed as if every person watching did so deliberately. There weren’t any usual festival stragglers who came just because they heard loud music, everyone already knew the band. The word “catchy” is used a lot to describe music, and usually with the connotation this in some way makes the song or lyrics inferior, but Imagine Dragons are catchy in the superior sense. The music just grabs you in a way that’s impossible not to join in. The fast and upbeat drumming foundations on ‘Round and Round’ give it a never-ending, pounding feel and combines with the wonderfully constructed choruses to make one of the best live tracks I’ve heard in a while. Plus the sheer energy this band exuded from the stage made it near impossible for the audience not to return back in kind. Though starting even before noon, Imagine Dragons put on easily the best set of the day and possibly even the best out of the entire weekend.

GROUPLOVE

Up a bit later on in the day was Grouplove. A band that seems to just be getting bigger by the day (they just announced another, larger headlining tour after finishing their first one just a month ago), and they deserve every bit of it. To call Grouplove unique would be an understatement. From the music, to the band members themselves, there’s nothing ordinary about this band. There isn’t another band out there you can fairly compare their sound to and it’s taken to another degree in their live shows. Frequently extending intros and outros on a whim, Grouplove seem completely free on stage. Songs like ‘Slow,’ are slowed down and distorted to a massive wall of drum beating, echoing static, and the fading screams of lead singer Christian Zucconi (who seems to sport a different hair color every time I see them). They’re able to change their sound so quickly from song-to-song that if you close your eyes (and count to ten, ZING!) you’d think a different band had taken the stage. Lead vocal duties switch between Zucconi, Hannah Hooper (who doubles on keys), and bassist Sean Gadd. They have a very distinct vocal style, so when singing separately they give each song a different feel but still manage to blend together perfectly when harmonizing. This blender type vocal style is used on songs like ‘Chloe,’ which starts off with Gadd’s deep, almost country voice and joined by the higher sound from Hooper and the ever present ethereal wailing of Zucconi. Though the vocal styles may change, one thing always seems to be a constant with each Grouplove song; they’re all so fun. Granted that’s a pretty vague term to apply to a band’s sound, but upon seeing them perform it’s hard not to agree. The loose nature of the rapid acoustic riffs, the constant rhythmic drumming, jumpy bass lines, and warbly key structures all come together so well. Take a song like ‘Tongue Tied’ for example. There’s so much going on in that song, a blending of musical styles that shouldn’t work, but somehow they pull it off in spectacular fashion. Like all great bands, they take what makes them great and amplify it live. The passion and energy they play with on a consistent basis is astounding, almost as if they haven’t played these songs countless times. It’s what makes each Grouplove show different, and their set at Firefly was no exception.

YOUNG THE GIANT

This alt-rock five piece has had one hell of a year. After their now classic performance of ‘My Body’ on the VMA’s, Young the Giant have been on a rapid increase upwards. Having just wrapped up their sold out nation-wide tour, they hit up a couple major festivals too. First was Bonnaroo and now Firefly. To see this band on the power of the main stage was quite spectacular. Though their sound rangers from the alt-rock jumper of a track ‘My Body’ to more mellow tracks like ‘Guns Out,’ they always manage to engage the crowd. Having chatted with bassist Payam Dootstzadeh prior to their set, he said they’d be playing a number of tracks and to be on the lookout for one in specific called ‘Teachers.’ As the band is currently writing and recording the new album, they’ve been showcasing a number of new songs and ‘Teachers’ is definitely one to be anticipated. One of the more upbeat songs they have, it’s able to do so in a way that doesn’t feel like a My Body 2.0. The band is looking for a more evolved and experimental sound on the new record, the few new tracks they played evidence of that. It wasn’t one of those moments in the set were you dread the new material, but instead something to look forward to, as everyone in the crowd is dying to see what Young the Giant have in store next. Of course the material off their massively successful debut album went down fantastically as well. Utilizing his now trademark two microphone set-up, lead singer Sameer Gadhia is able to re-create the haunting vocal echoes on songs like ‘Guns Out’ all the while slapping a tambourine against his hip. The two latest singles, ‘Cough Syrup’ and ‘Apartment’ made early appearances in the set and were greeted with a blast of cheers as the audience loudly sang along. Though the true highlight of the set, and by far the entire weekend, was during the final song. If you know even a little about Young the Giant, you’ll know how close they are with bands like Grouplove, Cage the Elephant, and a number of other young alt rock bands. Coincidentally enough, two of them just so happened to be at Firefly as well. So to the initiated, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise when all the members of Grouplove and Walk the Moon mobbed the stage during the last chorus of ‘My Body.’ From the very beginning of the song the crowd was deafening in their singing of literally every single word. Check YouTube (video proof!), it’s even louder than Sameer’s voice. Add to that the power the chorus has to turn any standing structure into a trampoline, and the bouncing mass of fans was already insane before the impromptu jam session. So when suddenly two full bands just charge the stage and start jumping and singing along, it pushed the crowd into a further frenzy. Walk the Moon front man Nicholas Petricca shared a mic with Sameer as the stage was crawling with the rest of the members from each band. Sometimes singing, other times just jumping and spinning around like dancing fools, it was the “moment” of the festival and one of the coolest things this writer’s ever seen at a gig. It’s still unclear whether or not Young the Giant even knew about it beforehand, which would make it that much more a definitive festival moment.

CAKE

Being that the lineup was mostly filled with up-and-coming alt rock acts, Firefly did the smart thing and made sure to throw in some bands to change up the style. Cake was definitely one of those bands. John McCrea’s voice is instantly recognizable, as is the band’s sound in general. At first glance they might not seem like an interesting live act, McCrea’s voice, though unique, is rather monotone and deadpan. While that’s part of what make their music work, it’s not necessarily ideal for a live environment. Yet somehow they’re able to come alive. The surprisingly loud and much more pronounced riff from ‘The Distance’ nearly transforms the once mellow track into a live anthem. Suddenly they were a full on rock band, turning the once monotonous track into a booming song that sprang to life. The trumpet work of Vince DiFiore is key in keeping the songs similar, but seeing Xan McCurdy on guitar is what really makes this band take a step forward as a live act. While underplayed in studio versions, the riffs in songs like ‘Short Skirt/Long Jacket’ come to the forefront. Louder and fuller, they become the backbone of the song and are hard to deny a mild headbang to. Definitely a band that will catch you off guard with their surprising life and energy, Cake was playing to an already established group of fans but was definitely able to win pretty much everyone who saw them over. They’re not the type of band that will have the crowd jumping and going crazy, nor do they pretend to. But what they do so well is take their niche sound and expand upon it, possibly winning over those who at first pass on the droll nature of their studio sound.

MODEST MOUSE

Bands with one massive hit are always interesting to watch. Not only how they go about structuring their sets, but how the crowd reacts when the majority of them are just waiting for “that one song.” And Modest Mouse is a good band, but there’s no denying that they will draw that type of audience from ‘Float On.’ Being that the song hit back in 2005, it’s clear just from watching them play that they’re not only used to this but have learned how to use it to their advantage. They don’t pull the cliché move and use it as the encore, but throw it a little more than midway through the set, as if it were any other song. There’s not big show of “alright, now here’s the song you all came to hear,” it’s just simply there. And by putting it there in the set you give the less familiar audience members a chance to hear some other material without making them wait 15+ songs for it. It’s a delicate balance and Modest Mouse strikes it quite well. Of course it helps that their other material is great as well. Songs like ‘Dashboard’ and ‘The World at Large’ sounded full and cram packed with instrumental layers coming from the production of the festival’s main stage. It helped having what seemed like a legion of fans going 100% for every single song on the set, too.

THE KILLERS

Bookending day 2 of the festival with another Las Vegas band, this one considerably larger than the first, was the Killers. Having been on hiatus since 2010, the hype around the return of the Killers was massive. Though they tend to be a bit overrated and have a penchant for being extremely stubborn with photographers (making my job that much harder), it’s impossible to deny their ability to pull a crowd. Especially considering the current mainstream musical climate that seems to demand a non-stop presence or else a band risks losing their “status.” Not so with the Killers. After being gone for a full two years, they’re still able to draw just as well, if not better. The hiatus seemed to benefit the band if anything, instead of people forgetting about them, the demand for the band actually grew. Having headlined Madison Square Garden prior to the hiatus, it’s easy to see the band returning to a similar level of success. Especially after seeing their set at Firefly. Definitely the “biggest” headliner of the weekend, hence the Saturday slot, they definitely played like it. Bringing with them a strong amount of production for a festival and the massive hits that a band of their caliber has, it’s hard to deny that the Killers know how to put on a show. Opening with ‘Somebody Told Me,’ arguably their biggest hit, they made it clear that they weren’t pulling any punches and were there simply to blow people away. And if the sound of the screams from the crowd is any indication, they definitely succeeded. Ironically enough this billing was the main reason for going to Firefly, even though I’m not as enraptured with the band as everyone else is. They’re a massive band to have headlining, and one of the few that isn’t touring at the moment, and even I have to admit that hearing ‘When You Were Young’ is an experience in itself.

CAKE

MODEST MOUSE

IMAGINE DRAGONS

GROUPLOVE

YOUNG THE GIANT

25 Jul
2012


By Matt Arena

New festivals seem to pop up every year, pull a decent lineup and then are never heard from again. In essence they’re attempts at unseating summer powerhouses like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, but they rarely ever succeed. But every once in a while those festivals have down years, allowing room for one of these newcomers to stake their own claim on the American summer music festival market. This year is one of those years and the Firefly Festival is one of those newcomers.

While Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza pulled the usual big lineups, it’s a definite decline from last year and the organizers behind Firefly seemed to notice that. Pulling three massive, current, and arena-worthy headliners, they presented the east coast with the rare option of a massive three day festival. A very doable 3.5 hr drive from the New York area, combined with billing of a major festival in a small festival setting made Firefly a must-see for anyone on the east coast. With all three levels of three day passes selling out weeks before the festival, they released a number of single day passes which promptly sold out as well. It’s only a few days after the last band left the stage, but it’s pretty clear that 2012 Firefly Festival was quite the success. So much so that starting today July 25th, the festival will begin selling early bird passes for next year’s festival. It’s clear that Firefly will not be following the trend of one-hit wonder festivals and that they plan on becoming a summer mainstay for music fans. The first day saw some rain, but the amount of fantastic music more than made everyone forget about the somewhat sloppy conditions.

THE WALLFLOWERS

Opening up the main stage for the weekend was The Wallflowers. Having announced an end to their hiatus just this past fall, they also recently revealed they’re working on their first new record in over seven years. With the possibility of new songs and playing on the power of the festival’s main stage, it was no surprise to see a massive crowd awaiting the band’s arrival before they even took the stage. Sticking with the same lineup from their last studio album Rebel, Sweetheart, it’s clear the strength of this band revolves around frontman Jakob Dylan, keyboardist Rami Jaffee, and bassist Greg Richling. Other members may come and go, but these guys have been together from the start and that’s immediately evident when they play. Firefly boasts an excellent, albeit young, lineup, so a seasoned band like The Wallflowers was a rarity during the weekend. Playing songs spanning their five studio releases, and including a couple new ones off the band’s upcoming album Glad All Over, they still managed to give the same levels of live and energy to these songs as when they first started playing. Obviously stand-out hits like ‘Sixth Avenue Heartache’ and ‘One Headlight’ went down well with the crowd, as all it took during the latter was a few notes of the first riff for the entire field to start cheering. The new songs had a distinctly different sound to most of the band’s material, with the darker, hard rock undertones reflected in the song titles themselves, ‘Devil’s Waltz’ and ‘Hospital for Sinners’ respectively. Dylan seemed determined to get these new songs out there and in a moment of self-awareness announced the crowd that “alright, the new song section is over,” before moving into the band’s more well known material. Festival crowds can be notoriously impatient when wading through a block of the set list that is dedicated to new material, but the Wallflowers handled it well, mostly by acknowledging it was happening in the first place. This is why they were such a great choice to open the main stage; they’re a veteran band that not only understands how modern audiences work but how to rock their faces off.

OK GO

Very few bands have been able to build a career like OK Go has. Breaking through to mainstream audiences with their now legendary video for ‘Here It Goes Again,’ they essentially promoted their way into people’s iPods because of their music videos. In a time where music videos are a dying art, it’s great to see a band like OK Go not only put tons of effort in it but have a ball doing it. They’ve been able to channel that initial buzz into considerable success. Playing with the same quirky energy presented in most of their videos, it creates an interesting cohesive element to all they do. This is evident on songs like ‘Return,’ in which the band plays hand bells placed amongst a chessboard. Lead singer Damian Kulash informed the crowd just prior to the song, “let’s go to church,” before breaking into the oddly captivating performance.

Walk the Moon

There are certain bands that just feel tailor-made for festivals and Walk the Moon is definitely one of those bands. Between the style of music and the band’s aesthetic on stage (and yes, meaning the face paint), it’s almost easy to see how this band would crush any festival stage they walked upon. While mostly having seen the band previously at standard gigs inside clubs (with the exception of Music Midtown, prior to their recent explosion in popularity), it was a treat to say the least to see them take on a major festival crowd like at Firefly. With a mix of songs off their latest self-titled debut album and the independently released ‘i want, i want!’ of last year, to say they struck a chord would not only be a lame pun but the understatement of the year. From the moment the band took the stage, they had the crowd, jumping, dancing, yelling, and in general just partying their asses off. It helps that Walk the Moon create some of the danciest music out there. Songs like ‘Shiver, Shiver’ and ‘Quesadilla’ vibrated the very soil the crowd was standing upon, with the groovy bass lines (courtesy of bassist Kevin Ray) and spiraling synths making the songs practically explode from the stage. The vocal, synth, and drum work of multi-talented front man Nicholas Petricca no doubt played a large part in this. It seems like every member of this band is doing five different things at once, operating whatever instrument they’re holding like pros, all the while singing and dancing with faces of guys who wholeheartedly love what they’re doing. Clearly the audience not only recognized but fed off that. When the band on stage is so obviously having the time of their life, it only elicits an even stronger reaction from the crowd.

Having seen Walk the Moon many, many times now, it’s always astounding how they manage to get better with every show. Even the band’s tour manager and publicist could be seen side stage dancing and singing just as hard as everyone in the crowd. The soaring harmonies on tracks like ‘The Liftaway’ and ‘I Can Lift a Car’ not only mixed the band’s vocal medley beautifully, but everyone in the crowd as well. During the latter, not only did the audience shout along to every single word of the irresistibly catchy chorus, but even joined in on a several hundred impromptu car lifting dance, which can only be described as Walk the Moon’s take on raising the roof. It all led into the absolute fire storm of a summer anthem, ‘Anna Sun.’ From the very first synth note, the crowd erupted into cheers as the band bounced, spun, and stomped around the stage like possessed men. To go through and list why every song worked so well and why every band member is so essential to making it all come together would take forever, so know this: there’s only one thing to do during a Walk the Moon show, drop whatever you’re doing and dance.

Silversun Pickups

Headlining the secondary stage was Los Angeles rock band, Silversun Pickups. Fresh off the release of their stellar third album, Neck of the Woods, they played a killer set spanning all three of their studio releases. Having sat down to talk with bassist Nikki Monninger earlier that day, she expressed excitement at the opportunity to play the new songs live, as the band hasn’t started their tour yet. One of the best songs off the new album and maybe even the best of the set was ‘Mean Spirits.’ In trademark Silversun Pickups fashion, the track relies on the booming bass lines and fuzzy distorted riffs of lead singer/guitarist Brian Aubert. The jump from studio to live is a transition many bands struggle with, but Silversun Pickups seem to do it with ease. For a group of just four people, they make a sound that could fill an arena which is why they sounded so great at Firefly. Without the constraints that a standard club has, their sound was able to go as far as possible at Dover Downs. This was especially true on ‘Growing Old is Getting Old,’ not only hands-down the best song of the set but maybe even the best out of the entire weekend. This was a personal favorite before going in and hearing it live again just solidifies that. It takes everything that makes Silversun Pickups great and amplifies it by ten. Quite literally. It’s a building, slow burner of a track but eventually explodes into a blitz of static, distortion, bass, and primal screams that sees the band as it’s very best and loudest. Though not a single, the band thankfully kept it on the set list despite the slew of tracks off the new album, and is a highlight of every Silversun Pickups set. Having only played a handful of secret shows in LA since the album release, the band sounded as sharp as ever, even with the new tracks. The first single of Neck of the Woods, ‘Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)’ was a standout. The echoing vocals rolled all the way back to the very entrance of the festival and the repeating backing track gave the song an extraterrestrial feel. The crowd definitely loved Silversun’s set, even as far as earning thanks from Brian himself for sticking around despite the ominous clouds and impending rain. The band’s two biggest hits, ‘Panic Switch’ and ‘Lazy Eye’ both received roars from the crowd during their opening notes. While the former is much more upbeat and the latter is similar to ‘Growing Old’ as a slow burner, they were both incredible. Equal parts modern alternative and ambient rock, Silversun Pickups is one of the few modern bands with a truly unique sound. You can’t throw the “they sound like (insert band name here)” label on them and it makes that much better.

JACK WHITE

After a couple years out of the spotlight, Jack White has had a huge year. After announcing the break-up of The White Stripes and releasing his own solo album, White has been playing seemingly non-stop. Headlining almost every major festival the US has and doing a residency of club shows around the country, it seems that he’s back in a major way. Early into the day festival goers had been camping out at the front of the main stage for White, and he undoubtedly impressed. Ironically enough, he played mostly songs from his many other bands. Only five tracks released under the Jack White solo name were found; not that it’s a bad thing. Comprised mostly of White Stripes and Raconteurs “covers,” (and a wicked appearance of the Dead Weather’s ‘I Cut Like a Buffalo’), it kinda felt like a White Stripes gig. Minus Meg. It’s pretty clear he still loves playing these songs, almost as much as the crowd loves hearing them. Kicking right off with ‘Dead Leaves and Dirty Ground,’ it set the tone quite well for the rest of the set. Though clearly happy for the treat of White Stripes songs, the audience loved material off Blunderbuss just as much. ‘Freedom at 21’ made an early appearance in the set, and though a bit of a low-key track on the album, it springs to life on stage. The unmistakable riff got a roar from the sprawling crowd and the frenzied work of the all male back-up band Los Buzzardos no doubt played a key role in the song’s transformation. It may be a bit cliché to name ‘Seven Nation Army’ as the highlight of the set, but come on, it’s ‘Seven Nation Army.’ Sporting arguably the most recognizable bass line of the past 10 years, the crowd knew it was coming and still gave the loudest cheer the instant the first note was heard. To try to relate the level of energy not only from stage, but also from the absolutely packed crowd would prove nothing but a disservice so imagine this; it’s ‘Seven Nation Army’ live. Just imagine how great that would be and multiply it by about 20. Though the rain started almost as soon as he set did, Jack White didn’t seem to mind as he remarked to the crowd, “I know you’re out there in the rain, but you kind of like it, don’t you?” To which the crowd replied with a rowdy cheer. Though not a rarity at festivals this summer, Jack White still managed to more than live up to the near legendary status and fit perfectly as the first headliner of the weekend. Mark “see Seven Nation Army live” off my gig bucket list? Check.


WALK THE MOON

SILVERSUN PICKUPS

JACK WHITE


16 Jul
2012

By Matt Arena

This year Dover International Speedway in Delaware will be home to Firefly Music Festival (official app). Firefly is a three-day music experience with over 40 bands, as well as a litany of other attractions, such as arcade games and even a hot air balloon ride. The lineup is one of the finest you’ll find of the many summer festivals, even standing up to (and this writer’s opinion, higher) than the usual stalwarts the likes of Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Outside Lands. Boasting headliners The Black Keys, Jack White, and The Killers, it’s hard to deny the strength of this lineup. And that’s before considering all the stellar acts books throughout the day. In addition to booking great bands, the schedule itself boasts very few major conflicts, a rarity amongst summer festivals. Below is your guide to Firefly festival, including all the must-see acts during the festival’s three-day run.

FRIDAY

WALK THE MOON
Set info: 6:45, The Porch

If any band were custom made for a festival, it would be Walk the Moon. These Ohio natives have absolutely exploded the past couple months, mostly due to the release of their self-titled debut album (to long time fans, more of a companion to their independently released album, i want i want!) and a number of TV appearances the likes of Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman. With music that sounds like it came from a sentient pack of Starburst, they’re a band that never fails to deliver live. A summer anthem if there’s ever been one, the smash hit single ‘Anna Sun’ has been topping alt-rock countdowns for weeks and boasts a still growing 3 million views for the music video on YouTube. Taking their studio tunes and giving them even more life when played live, it’s near impossible to not dance along to these guys on stage. Poised to have a Foster the People type year in terms of popularity, Walk the Moon is a band you’ll be hearing a lot about as the summer continues.

SILVERSUN PICKUPS
Set info: 8:00, The Backyard

Hot off the release of their new album, Neck of the Woods, Silversun Pickups aren’t making a lot of festival stops this summer, making their set at Firefly that much more of an important mark on your schedule. It’s always said that the mark of a truly great band is that they can translate their sound on record to their live shows. Silversun Pickups take that one step further. Louder and heavier than on the album, their songs take on a new life when played live. Songs like ‘Growing Old is Getting Old’ and the newer ‘Mean Spirits’ will no doubt have the entire crowd jumping and singing along. They might even melt your face a bit too. The passion lead singer Brian Aubert exudes on stage is palpable, as his primal screams and frantic guitar work are enough to drive even the most stagnant crowd member into jumping along. Definitely one of the best acts Firefly has to offer, do yourself a favor and experience their set.

JACK WHITE
Set info: 9:30, Firefly Stage

Though Firefly is one of the many stops Jack White’s making in support of his first solo album, there’s a reason he visits so many festivals as a headliner. One of the few modern musicians to reach legendary status (and rather quickly), he garnered a lot of buzz surrounding the break up of The White Stripes. Proving that he’s just as good on his own as he is with his many bands, White’s solo album Blunderbuss has by many been considered the album of the year. Giving new life to dirty blues, his complex riffs and old school sound have resonated well with music fans today. Even though he’s playing with a new band, Jack White doesn’t neglect the songs that got him to where he is. White Stripes, Raconteurs, and Dead Weather songs are all a regular occurrence on his set lists. And come on, it’s got to be on everyone’s gig bucket list to hear ‘Seven Nation Army’ at least one time live.

SATURDAY

GROUPLOVE
Set info: 3:30, The Lawn

Winning over new fans as a festival mainstay this summer, Grouplove has continued to impress at major stops like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Known for their out of control live presence, all it takes is one Grouplove show to understand why this band is growing so quickly. They just finished up their first headline tour in support of their debut album, Never Trust a Happy Song, and still continue to tour tirelessly. It’s hard to not respect a band that tries as hard as Grouplove, and clearly has a ball doing it. To try to describe their sound would not only be a near impossible task, but would almost do the band a disservice. Ranging between modern pop-synth indie rock and mellow, introspective electronica, they have a little something for everyone. They’ve had a massive year so far and only look to get even bigger.

YOUNG THE GIANT
Set info: 4:30, Firefly Stage

Following in the footsteps of other indie-rock acts that have recently found their way to mainstream success, Young the Giant have had quite a year. Starting with a huge main stage slot at last year’s Lollapalooza, a classic performance on the VMAS, a turn on MTV’s Unplugged, it was just a matter of time before it all clicked. And clicked it has. Selling out nearly every stop of their tour this past spring, even having to rebook several shows to larger venues, this band deserves every bit of praise they get. They’re able to mix modern indie rock with mellow beach pop and come out with an incredibly unique sound that is clearly finding an audience. Having a scorcher of a hit single like ‘My Body’ sure helps. Add to that the ever-growing popular tracks like ‘Cough Syrup’ and ‘Apartment,’ this band has been one of the biggest standout bands of the past year and show no signs of slowing down.

SUNDAY

REPTAR
Set info: 1:10, The Porch

There’s been a contingent of fantastic bands coming out of the South and making it big lately; Manchester Orchestra, Cage the Elephant, Sleeper Agent, and now Reptar. Having just opened for Grouplove on their nationwide tour, Reptar might just be Firefly’s best band that you don’t know about. Describing themselves as “disco dust,” once you hear one of their songs you’ll definitely agree. An eclectic combination of synths, guitar, bass, and drums, Reptar will make you want to dance and then mosh, sometimes both simultaneously. Their recently released debut album ‘Body Faucet’ has certainly struck a chord as the band’s popularity continues to rise. With a relatively set on the last day of the festival, Reptar will certainly set the bar high for the rest of the day.

AWOLNATION
Set info: 2:20, The Lawn

The leading pioneer of Red Bull records, AWOLNATION has been one of a garrison of new bands making quite a splash. Touring hard since the release of their debut album Megalithic Symphony a year ago, they’ve been able to garner lots of attention from their energetic live shows. Actually, energetic is an understatement. Known for quite literally crowd surfing at festival recently, as lead singer Aaron Bruno floats along the crowd on top of a surfboard, it’s hard to walk away from an AWOLNATION show unimpressed. Blending elements of electronic and rock, as evidence on their hit single ‘Sail,’ they’ve got a sound custom made for the wide expanse that a festival brings. It’ll be hard to miss AWOLNATION, as their sound will no doubt carry over the entire festival grounds. If you’re having trouble finding them, just look for the guy surfing over the crowd.

COLD WAR KIDS
Set info: 3:45, Firefly Stage

One of the few gems of Firefly, Cold War Kids haven’t been touring much lately, thus making their set all the more a must-see. Equal parts soul and rock, the Long Beach natives certainly know how to put blend these elements and highlight them in the live show. The sheer power of lead singer Nathan Willett’s voice will no doubt draw crowds towards their stage during the midday set. Though everyone will probably already know ‘Hang Me Up to Dry,’ the rest of their songs bring similar funk energy. Hearing Cold War Kids on the production and power of the main stage is a treat that everyone would be wise to experience.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
Set info: 6:15, Firefly Stage

Easily one of the best bands in the entire festival lineup, Death Cab’s set is one that will no doubt be on everyone’s radar. Even though they’ve been around for a while, they still play with the passion and ferocity of a band still trying to break it. Those who haven’t seen Death Cab before will no doubt be surprised with the energy the band exudes live as many of their songs make the jump to a live setting better than expected. Never ones to disregard their old material, you can expect a perfect blend of songs touching upon almost all of their seven full-length albums. Balancing between the intricate riffs found on ‘You Are a Tourist’ with the beautiful lyrical and piano work on songs like ‘What Sarah Said,’ they will entertain every second of their set. Add to that the sheer power and breath taking ability that their usual set closer ‘Transatlanticism’ has and it would be a crime for any to miss Death Cab for Cutie’s performance.

THE BLACK KEYS
Set info: 9:30, Firefly Stage

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ve got to know who The Black Keys are. If there’s any band that has worked long and hard to get where they are, it’s them. The overwhelming praise (both from critics and fans) behind their latest effort, El Camino, has helped propel the band into further heights of popularity. Launching their first ever arena tour just a short while ago, many doubted whether or not the band had bitten off more than they could chew. They answered it by selling out Madison Square Garden immediately and adding another date that quickly sold out as well. Taking the unique set-up of a just drum and guitar (though they bring along some extra members on tour) they’re able to make a lot of noise for the music of just two men. The lyrics for songs like ‘Howlin’ for You’ and ‘Tighten Up’ will no doubt be echoed on the lips of everyone in attendance. The Black Keys are a perfect choice to close out the festival, as any other band would be hard pressed to follow up what’s sure to be the highlight of the entire weekend.

03 Apr
2012


Firefly Music Festival is hitting the East Coast for its inaugural year on July 20, 21 and 22 in Dover, Delaware. The festival will take place at the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, located in close proximity to Philadelphia, New York City, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

Headliners include The Killers, The Black Keys and Jack White alongside more than 40 national acts, including Death Cab for Cutie, John Legend and The Flaming Lips. Additionally, Firefly offers a wide variety of interactive attractions including enhanced culinary options, craft beer and wine gardens, hot air balloon rides and more. The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway provides a picturesque wooded setting for the four stages of entertainment. Tickets will go on sale through FireflyFestival.com on Thursday, April 5.

“We’re thrilled to announce Firefly Music Festival as the East Coast’s premier music experience and are set on delivering an unforgettable weekend complete with top tier talent and unique attractions. We look forward to bringing Firefly to life in July,” said Joe Reynolds, owner of Red Frog Events, the producers of Firefly.

Firefly is partnering with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s through their Music Gives to St. Jude Kids program. Festival attendees can support the lifesaving work of St. Jude on-site and leading up to the event. The local Dover communities will also see benefits from Firefly with economic impact projected to reach into the millions and with “Illuminate Dover,” a Firefly program dedicated to community enhancement and beautification projects in and around Dover.

Firefly Music Festival is produced by the award-winning event production company Red Frog Events. Based in Chicago, Red Frog Events produces a variety of events across the world, including Warrior Dash, the world’s largest running series. For more information on Red Frog Events, go to redfrogevents.com.