Going to the Firefly Music Festival is always an adventure.
When I first attended the four-day camping and music festival in 2013, I was a broke, unemployed recent college graduate. I volunteered to work the festival in Delaware with my friend S because I couldn’t afford a ticket. When I wasn’t volunteering, I saw Twenty One Pilots perform before they were famous and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes sing “Home” when Jade was still in the band.
I left that first festival with new friends, new musicians to listen to and a new found appreciation for camping, so I went back to Firefly for four more years, including this year.
Now that I’ve been in the workforce for a few years, I could afford to buy a ticket to Firefly this year. I went with my friend S, who hadn’t been back to the festival since the first year I went in 2013. Firefly was held from June 16 to 19 this year and people arrived as early as the Wednesday before the event officially started, but S and I went just from Friday to Monday.
This Firefly was super special to me because S was back and my friend Gallant, a rising alternative R&B singer, performed.
S and I rolled into general camping, where we stayed this year, on Friday morning. Usually I stay in premier camping, but since I was unable to arrive at Firefly early – required for those staying in that area – we had to stay in general camping.
I was nervous general camping was going to be terrible because I’ve heard horror stories from others in the past, but it actually wasn’t that bad. The main perk for premier camping is that you are much closer to the festival entrance, but our spot in general camping wasn’t too far from the gates – about a 15 to 20 minute walk. And there were pedicabs to transport people to the entrance if needed. S and I took advantage of these pedicabs several times because we are old and tire easily.
The people that camped around us in general seemed to be older than the majority of the Firefly crowd and were generally not very energetic – they made for perfect neighbors!
The first day of Firefly, S and I did the usual: Set up camp while drinking cans of Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita. Then, we took a nap. Eventually we left the campgrounds to see some shows in the festival.
First, we saw Civil Twilight, very mellow, but that was a nice way to start the festival. Then, we saw part of Of Monsters and Men’s set. However, I was so excited to see my friend Gallant perform next that evening that I had a hard time paying attention. I think S did too and it was super crowded, so we left Of Monsters and Men’s set early to get to where Gallant was to perform.
Since we arrived more than an hour early, we nabbed spots in the front row! Some of our friends who were also at Firefly showed up early for Gallant’s set too so we had some time to catch up with them. But as random people filed in to see Gallant perform, I went into total stage friend mode and left my friends to take pictures of the crowd.
There were so many people there to see Gallant! It was overwhelming. Of course Gallant was fantastic. Obviously I’m super biased, but you don’t need to take my word for it: Billboard and Fuse wrote amazing reviews.
Firefly is such a special place to me and Gallant is a special friend, so I was more emotional than usual. I was just so excited for my friend who had worked so hard to get to this level.
After Gallant performed his full set on the Porch stage, he performed an acoustic set that night on the Treehouse stage. This was a newish stage deep in the forest that surrounds most of the festival grounds. It was small, intimate and a comfortable temperature – I would spend a lot of time here in the forthcoming days when I thought I was going to die of a heat stroke.
I’ve never seen Gallant do an acoustic set before so that was really awesome. Loved it!
Kings of Leon were headlining the festival after Gallant’s set, but I’m just not a fan so I took a nap. S and I attempted to stay awake for the late-night act that followed, Disclosure, but we were just too old and weak to stay up that late. I heard it was great though!
Day two of Firefly started with S and I playing some games with our neighbors at the campground – a cute couple from New York and a group of mid-20 something males.
There were a lot of bands we wanted to see that day so we made an effort to get to the festival grounds a little earlier than we did the first day. We saw Chvrches, The Neighborhood and more.
But the highlight of the day for me was M83. They had these fantastic lights and their voices were so beautiful. And they brought out these dancing monsters at the end.
That night I finally made it to the silent disco. I never went to this area before – where people dance in silence while listening to music on headphones– and I don’t know why I didn’t! It was so fun. I was grooving.
We stayed up late that night to see Florence and the Machine and DeadMau5. It was fun but it went by fast.
The next morning S and I took turns using the solar shower she brought for us to use at the campgrounds. It was wonderful and I guess the guys camping next to us thought so too because they asked us to use it.
We said yes and one-by-one the boys took turns lathering up and showering in the pop-up shower tent.
I hummed “Keep the Customer Satisfied” by Simon & Garfunkel to myself as they toweled off. Specks of water on their large, burly, bodies glistened in the hot Delaware sun.
This show was 100x better than The Neighborhood’s performance the day before.
After the boys showered, I got an encore – one of the boys gathered our trash without asking and took it to the dumpster. Thank you!
And then it was time to go into the festival for the last day of the festival. I saw Ludacris, Transviolet, Swim Deep and Earth, Wind and Fire. We sang our hearts out during Blink-182 and Mumford & Sons.
When Major Lazer performed, the last act of the festival, we danced in a sea of glow sticks and good vibes.
It felt like the perfect ending to my Firefly experiences. I’m not sure I’ll be back – life is pulling me in other directions – but if I don’t go back I’ll always have amazing these memories.