I’ve had a hard time writing this last recap of my Firefly 2013 Volunteer experience. It’s not that I’ve just put it off for a over a week, it’s that I’ve found it extremely difficult to write. Nothing traumatic happened, I didn’t die. But writing this last recap about Firefly is like finally saying goodbye to it for good. It’s been fun to keep reliving the experience through my writing and I didn’t really want it to end. Real life is oh, so boring….
No other experience in my life until this point compares to that weekend of music, booze and friendship. It’s not often in our adult life that we meet a group of individuals who we immediately connect with.
I really don’t know why that is either. I remember watching this group of kids on the beach the other day, all different ages and ethnicities, work together to dig a massive hole in the sand. None of them knew each other before that afternoon, but within minutes they had become fast friends. Kids can be mean, but they also can be very welcoming. I wonder why adults can’t.
But on that last morning of Firefly 2013, to see my new group of young adult friends sit together under the canopy, while eating a breakfast of hamburgers and hot dogs and singing “Hey Ho” by The Lumineers together, you would have thought that maybe we weren’t adults after all…just a group of kids.
The last day of Firefly felt very much like the last day of school or the last day of summer camp. Of course I was excited to sleep on a real bed and enjoy the conveniences of indoor plumbing, but I was also sad to leave my new friends behind. It felt weird to think that I couldn’t spend my day relaxing and listening to some great new band. But the thing I dreaded most was coming back to my life of endless job searching. Firefly had been a nice distraction from that.
We still had that day though and made the most of it we did. The commune woke up slightly later, around 8:30 a.m. (I guess we had gotten accustomed to the heat after all). The guys still had a ton of food left so they decided to break out the grill and cook up hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone to have for breakfast.
After our unconventional breakfast, Page broke out his guitar and started singing some Jack White. We all listened for a while and eventually we all started singing together. I know what some of you are thinking, “Oh god, this sounds sooooo stereotypical. Next thing you are going to tell me is that someone brought out a tambourine . I can’t take this.”
Yes, it all sounds hippy-dippy, and it kind of was, but it was so fun I don’t even care.
Somehow among all this activity I managed to get a shower in. My back and shoulders were so burnt that all clothing felt painful. I couldn’t even wear my bathing suit because the top was a halter top and was digging into my neck, which was unbearable. My only option was a beach cover-up. It was slightly see-through, but I was wearing undergarments and at this point I was like “whatever.” After what I had seen this weekend, I looked like a nun.
Most of the commune decided to head into the festival to catch some bands or go to their final volunteer shift around noon. Steph and I stayed back and discussed whether we should leave that night after the final show was over or wait till the morning. We were concerned about traffic leaving the festival as we had heard that it had been a consistent problem throughout the weekend (we’re talking major delays).
We still hadn’t decided so we figured we’d pack as much as we could besides the tent and then make a decision later that day. But then it looked like it was going to rain, so we put the sleeping bags away. My mom called. She was at the beach 45 minutes away with my grandmother for the weekend. She suggested we just drive down there after the festival and spend the night. That way we wouldn’t have to drive all the way home, but could still avoid some of the traffic and sleep in a real bed.
Then the rain came. We were lucky that we didn’t get any rain all weekend. We quickly packed up the tent, which was surprisingly really tricky. They give you a bag that is smaller than a normal sized backpack and you have to work really hard to smoosh that tent into there.
After that we chilled under the canopy for a couple more hours with Jon and Phil. There was really no rush to get to the festival. It was raining and the bands we wanted to see didn’t perform till 4 p.m.
An ice cream truck rolled through camp. I had my first strawberry crunch bar in 10 years. We all drank mailbu and coke and talked. A fly got trapped in Jon’s tent and it took about 10 people to get it out. I tried Apple Cider moonshine. All in all good afternoon.
Soon it was time to go into the grounds to see the shows for the night. Our schedule was Matt & Kim, Capital Cities, Passion Pit, Vampire Weekend and finally Foster the People.
Unfortunately, it rained during Matt & Kim which was such a bummer. Normally, I’d be that girl that dances in the rain, but I had my IPhone and it my most prized possession and I’d be damned if I let that thing get wet. So we waited under a big tent near the stage for most of the set until the rain stopped. Then we joined the rest of the crowd for the end.
Matt & Kim were great! I’ve seen them twice before and they always put on a high-energy and energetic show. Kim crowd-surfed, took off her bra and hooked up a couple. Man, that women WORKS for it in a show.
After that it was time for Capital Cities, but first we stopped at the Brewery to escape another rain shower and to grab a drink of the special -made Firefly Ale which everyone had told us was amazing. Well, they lied. I’m not a huge beer drinker, but I’ve had my fair share and I enjoy many. This was absolutely awful. I don’t know what was in it, but it had the weirdest taste to it. It didn’t even taste like beer. I think I like Milwaukee’s Best better.
But I mean I drank it. I’m not about wasting, there’s tons of starving people in the world..
So then it was time to see Capital Cities which was on the backyard stage located all the way on the other side of the festival, about a 10-15 minute walk. By this point all the walking and heat had gotten to me. My back hurt so bad, but I was trying not to think about it.
I didn’t know who Capital Cities was, but Stephanie kept saying “Yes, Yes you do! You know that one song. I can’t think of the name of it now, but it’s all over the radio. You know them. Trust.”
I listened to the whole set, still didn’t know who they were, but they were great! Definitely in my top five for the weekend. They were so energetic and they had a saxophone player. Plus, they had matching jackets.
They started playing the very last song and I finally was like, “Wait, YES! I know them!!!” The song was “Safe & Sound.” Coincidentally, since the festival I have heard this song CONSTANTLY. On the radio, in the mall, on a commercial. Those guys are just all over the airwaves.
After that we took a quick bathroom and corn dog stop. I waited till the end of the weekend to get my corndog fix, because I wanted it to be special (I loveeeee corndogs). And it was! A footlong too! It was so delicious. Best food of the festival right there.
Next, was Passion Pit. We took up our usual spot by the port-o-potties on the left-hand side. They started out GREAT. I mean I love Passion Pit in general so I am a bit biased, but they were good. Stephanie could only stay for a few songs, then she had to go to her final shift.
Instead of feeling awkward being by myself, I embraced it! I got up and started dancing and singing along. No one else was dancing, but you know what? I didn’t care! I was having a great time.
So while I was casually swaying my booty, the people in front of me told me I should get out my camera. “For what?” I said. The woman told me to look behind. There was a guy with a fuzzy afro talking to a few people and taking some pictures. I didn’t recognize him. “Who is that?” I whispered to my new friend. “The singer from Dispatch,” she said.
I thought about that for a second. I recalled the name, but I don’t really listen to their music. Still though, there were now about 10 people in line waiting to meet this guy. I was curious and feeling pretty confident. “Why not!? Who knows, this guy could be really famous and I could make my friends really jealous” I thought.
So I turned around, got in the line and asked the guy in front of me to take a picture. “Okay, but only if you take one for me too,” he said. “Deal,” I said.
When it was my turn I went up to the guy, shook his hand and said, “You were great! I love you music!”
“Thank you!” he said.
And then we took a picture. Afterwards, I looked up Dispatch on Wikipedia and realized that I did know some of their music so that was cool.
Unfortunately, Michael Angelakos , the vocalist in Passion Pit, lost his voice halfway through their set which was a bummer. But man did he try! I felt so bad for him as he attempted to sing one of their most famous songs, Little Secrets. Some of those notes are reallyyyy high and his voice was just going in and out. He felt so bad and kept apologizing and said that his allergies had started acting up that morning. He didn’t even try to attempt to sing “Sleepyhead.” But it wasn’t his fault, I felt bad.
So when Passion Pit was over I headed over to watch Vampire Weekend. I was planning on meeting up with some of the commune to watch Foster the People after, so I was going to be seeing this show solo.
Suddenly I felt super weird seeing this show by myself. I don’t know why I felt this way. I mean I saw three other shows this weekend alone, it was no big deal. I guess I felt this way because there was literally no one else around me alone.
But I stayed and watched it. I didn’t really have that great of a spot and I couldn’t hear Vampire Weekend all that well. And I was feeling super awkward dancing and singing alone. The people next to me were playing in the mud. On the other side was a few families. Some guy tried to get me to dance with him and told me to cheer up (I guess he could tell I was feeling weird).
I don’t know. Maybe it was because I wasn’t feeling the music. I’ve always liked Vampire Weekend, but they are not my favorite and I didn’t think their performance was amazing or anything.
I left after about 20 minutes. Members of the commune were meeting up at the hot air balloon an hour and a half early so we could get really good spots in the front of the Mainstage for Foster the People. When I got there, I saw no one. I couldn’t contact anyone either because all of our cell phones were dead. I started freaking out that I wouldn’t find them and die… My phone was almost dead and I knew it would never make it. What if I ended up a story on the news?!
I was a few minutes early so I thought I would just walk across the field to the port-o-potties and go to the bathroom real quick and by the time I was done they would be there. But, as I was walking I ran into Steven, a commune member. And a few minutes after that we ran into Jamie, Erin, Dan and Kevin.
It all felt so serendipitous. “Maybe I wasn’t going to die after all,” I thought.
The hour and half that we had to wait to see them went by quickly and before we knew it, the sun had set and it was time for Foster the People to perform.
I don’t know how to properly describe how awesome Foster the People was. They killed it.
I think it was much more than just the actual performance though, it was the final event of a four day party. I danced more during that show than I had in a really long. I just let go and felt the music (again this sounds so cliche but whatever it’s how I felt). Maybe it was also the fact that we were so close to the stage (I could actually SEE a band for once!) All the lights, the moon and the fact that there was 60,000 people behind me in a field in Delaware. It was oh so cool.
And just like that, it was over. It was kind of a let down too because they ended 15 minutes early and didn’t perform a proper encore. The crowd chanted for a good 15 minutes for them to come back on, but they never did…it was over.
We started walking back over to camp and it was amazing to see how much of the festival had already been cleaned up/dismantled. The fairytale forest we had played in for four days had all but disappeared.
When we got back to camp, the rest of the commune was hanging underneath the canopy. Steph and I hung around for another hour to let the traffic die down and to say our goodbyes.
Someone passed around their phone and we all added each other on Facebook. We all promised to stay in touch and to have a reunion. Steph and I packed up the last of our things, hugged everyone and got a group picture. Then it was time to go for real.
It kind of felt like a dream when we started driving away on that dirt road back to civilization. The memories were already starting to fade.
We got to my family’s beach house in Rehoboth a little after 1 a.m. My mom was still up, eagerly awaiting our arrival. When she opened the door, her first words were, “Oh my god. You look like a homeless person! And your hair!? It looks like one giant dreadlock!”
You know, she was kind of right. For those four days we had no air conditioning, electricity, indoor plumbing or television, all the things that physically make something a home. So in essence we were homeless. But those four days were some of the most fun and relaxing in my life.
Would I do it again? I don’t know. It depends on a variety of factors of course and who knows where I’ll be in a year. But if there is one thing this experience has taught me it’s to let go and let the universe do its thing.
And of course along the way I’ll be listening to the music.