Posted Jun 29th, 2015 (3:34 pm) by James Hughes
Firefly Music Festival 2015: Festival Review
Image by Bethany Rees/DOLA Photography

With the fourth year of the Dover, DE festival over and long in the past I have had the time to digest the year’s festivities. The Woodlands based music festival drew in close to 90,000 attendees to the smallest state in the union. The festive weekend brought rain, shine, a massive mud pit, and an impressive lineup to the campers; with headlining acts Paul McCartney, The Kings of Leon, and The Killers taking Friday through Sunday respectively. The heavy hitting lineups rivals former headlining acts the Red Hot Chili Peppers of 2013 and so and so of 2014. What the festival did well was their diversification of musical entertainment. Catering to a wide range of the musical spectrum it was not hard for fans to find someone on the lineup to be excited about. Firefly Music Festival brought the feeling of isolation and escapism to a venue not a stone’s throw from the Dover Downs race track.

Section One: Festival Production
The seven stage festival bolstered a wide range of opportunities that seemed a little daunting at times. The massive grounds had enough space to hold all seven stages, but it did seem a little crowded at times. With stages almost next to eachother, case and point the Lawn Stage and the Backyard Stage placements, there was the occasional musical runoff spoiling each crowd’s experience. The other stages had proper scheduling to keep this from happening during any other shows. The stages were well constructed and lighting and pyrotechnics were tastefully used and well-coordinated.

With 90,000 people enjoying all the festival had to offer there was 90,000 peoples worth of trash. Beer cans, paper plates, and napkins had the opportunity to flood the grounds; but thankfully that was not the case. Staffers were continuously seen around the grounds picking up the reminance of the previous shows audience as a part of a well-planned cleanliness initiative. Trash and recycling bins were everywhere. Every 20 yards it seemed that there was a place to through away your trash, so the act of littering was almost an impossibility. When it came to staying clean and fresh Firefly had an excess of everything a festival needs to have to keep a crowd happy. One traveling the grounds would never have to really wait in line for the bathroom or for food. A mass of vendors were featured across the grounds, which kept the lines down. Food itself was priced, as anyone who has been to a festival before, higher than it should have been, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. There were many affordable options for all of those in attendance who were balling on a budget. The best food deals, unfortunately for many of the festival goers, were found in the VIP sections. Affordable tacos from Peace, Love, Tacos reigned supreme as the steal of the weekend at $3 apiece fueled my weekend.

A huge pitfall in the festivals production was the availability if the water refill stations. Firefly only made two stations available to the campers who did not want to shell out $4 for a bottle of water. This lack of freely available water caused lines that lasted up to an hour, as said by some fellow members of the Firefly nation.

Score: 20/30

Section Two: Presentation
The Woodlands that held Firefly Music Festival were massive. Measuring in at 154 acres the festival relied on the copious ammounts of nature to provide a natural asthetic. The woods were decorated with well coordinated lighting schemes and stages that provided a silent disco and hammock hangputs. In regards to art and other seen at festivals like Bonnaroo and Governors Ball, Firefly was surely lacking. But, to their defence that is not what they were advertising. So, the artistic expectations from this festival goer were in one word – non-existent. With the festival being as young as it is the priority to on grounds asthetics may not be high up on the list just yet, but I feel that as they continue to grow as an event this category will improve. My favorite aspect of the minimal asthetics was the firefly lights. They were not overused and added a fairytale like atmosphere to wherever they were placed.

Score: 15/20

Section Three: Sustainability
As mentioned earlier the festival did an outstanding job maintaining, and preventing, an inevitable mountain of waste that would have accumulated. Many of the displays and stations were constructed with wood and all appeared to be completely portable. The big challenge that Firefly must face, due to the storms that graced the festival with their presence, is reclamation of The Woodlands grounds. Massive segments were torn up from foot traffic and copious amounts of dancing. The amount of grass seed, or sawed, that the Firefly staff would use to repair the damage over the 154 acre plot must have been outrageous. Through the later weekend days yards of mulch were scattered in an effort to slow down the muddy apocalypse. I shortcoming of the festival production was its size. The sheer numbers that the festival bolstered led to massive consumption and eventually massive amounts of trash.

Score: 20/25

Section Four: Non-Musical Entertainment

Non-musical entertainment was almost non-existent. The only visible form of entertainment that was not music related was the hot air balloon rides, which were not free mind you, plus a few VIP ping-pong tables. But, with the amount of acts hitting the stages there was no motivation to do anything but enjoy the music.

Score: 5/10

Section Five: Overall Festival Atmosphere
The festival handled the 90,000 fans quite comfortably as it never felt crowded amongst The Woodlands. The only time the true magnitude of the crowd was apparent was during the major headlining acts. Firefly’s seven stages spread the attendees out as the days musical entertainment hit its peak. The backdrop of the Woodlands that surrounded every stage played to the majestic nature of festivals. The surrounding forest gave me a sense of being as far away from civilization as I wanted to believe I was, and that feeling of escapism is necessary to fully embrace the moment right in front of me. The lack of day passes being sold seemed to create a community atmosphere among those in attendance. I think that the empathy campers had for each other played into the positive vibes and the atmosphere. The burdens of the festival camping life, enduring minimal showers, eating a lot of PB&J, and constantly fighting off a heat stroke can turn strangers into friends very fast.

Score: 15/15

If you only have one festival you can get to this summer, or next summer, pencil in and budget for Firefly Music Festival. The diverse lineup leaves something for everyone, there is quality food and Dogfish Head Brewery on site, it is strictly a camping only festival, and it is a four day event. The festival has so much potential to grow into a heavy hitter in the music festival industry and I recommend you get on that boat before this festival gets too big and too popular.

Final Score: 75/100

Want more?
Check out our full coverage and photo galleries of both Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3!

Photography by Bethany Rees/DOLA Photography

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