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Jack White, Black Keys Shine at the Inaugural Firefly Festival

Flaming Lips and Walk the Moon also play Delaware weekend

jack white firefly

Joe Papeo

From July 20th to 22nd, thousands of music fans descended on the Woodlands in Dover, Delaware, for the inaugural Firefly Music Festival. In addition to checking out headliners such as Jack White, the Killers and the Black Keys, festivalgoers could partake in hot air balloon rides, cool off in an arcade tent with vintage video games and sample Firefly Ale, a craft beer brewed expressly for the festival. 

By Alexandra Jaffe

firefly ok go

Joe Papeo

OK Go

"Delaware, do you give a fuck if it rains?" screamed OK Go frontman Damian Kulash during their set on the first day of the festival. The weather held off, but OK Go made it rain with confetti guns that showered the cheering crowd in a rainbow of colors.

firefly

Joe Papeo

Walk the Moon

Walk the Moon bassist Kevin Ray painted the face of a fan before their show. Face paint has become a trademark of the band, but lead vocalist Nicholas Petricca said the tradition started unintentionally. "We had a party in Cincinnati and brought some face paint and… it just kind of accidentally kept going," Petricca told Rolling Stone.

firefly walk the moon

Joe Papeo

Walk the Moon

The high energy on the stage of Walk the Moon was infectious to a crowd that never stopped dancing for the hour-long set. But it’s an enthusiastic audience that makes a good show, according guitarist Eli Maiman, who told Rolling Stone, “Because these tunes are so familiar to us, often at shows we depend on the crowd to make them new and exciting.”

john legend firefly

Joe Papeo

John Legend

Everything about John Legend exuded smooth, from his suave dance moves to his black leather jacket. For an hour and a half, he hypnotized the Firefly crowd with his honeyed croon.

firefly silversun pickups

Joe Papeo

Silversun Pickups

Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups sang to an ecstatic crowd bathed in golden evening light on the first day of Delaware's inaugural Firefly Music Festival.

jack white firefly

Joe Papeo

Jack White

Getting a front-row view for headliner Jack White was a competitive scene; one fan urinated in a cup to save his spot. The singer-guitarist threw himself into the music, playing each note with intense focus and palpable passion. 

jack white firefly

Joe Papeo

Jack White

Jack White, who performed barefoot, refused to decide on a setlist before the show, so his band had to be prepared for anything. Some of the most special moments during the set were the intimate interactions between White and the members of his band.

felice brothers

Joe Papeo

Felice Brothers

"We'll be your substitute teachers today," Ian Felice of the Felice Brothers told the Firefly crowd. So began their quirky set, which included quite a bit of conversation between band members and the enthusiastic audience.

michael franti firefly

Joe Papeo

Michael Franti and Spearhead

The crowd adored Michael Franti, who jumped off the stage to sing among them. He showed them some love, too, by playfully changing a lyric and singing, “Makes no sense, like getting high with my Firefly friends” as the crowd exploded in cheers.

michael franti firefly

Joe Papeo

Michael Franti and Spearhead

The energy from the stage of Michael Franti and Spearhead was contagious. Guitarist J Bowman jumped on the speakers as he roared at the crowd, shredding away on his instrument all the while.

grouplove firefly

Joe Papeo

Grouplove

Backstage before their set, a few members of Grouplove fooled around and contorted into yoga positions. Onstage, they still looked like they were having a lot of fun, dancing and tossing their hair. "We make a lot of friends playing," singer Christian Zucconi, whose vibrant hair matches the electric blue of his guitar, told Rolling Stone.

young the giant

Joe Papeo

Young the Giant

During the last song of Young the Giant's set, members of Grouplove and Walk the Moon stormed the stage. "It's good to be able to have people that feel your pain and your happiness and whatever your relationship with the road, it’s cool to be able to laugh about it and just to be together," frontman Sameer Gadhia told Rolling Stone of his touring pals.

firefly

Joe Papeo

A Friendly Game

On Saturday afternoon, during an impromptu soccer game in the artist hangout area, the bands proved that their only rivalry is on the field. "It's a beautiful, memorable experience to share with friends who are coming up together and you're meeting on level ground," said Christian Zucconi of Grouplove, who played in the game.

lupe fiasco firefly

Joe Papeo

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco worked the stage, pumping up the crowd as the sun set on the second day of the festival. He tirelessly grooved to his own beat and jumped impressively high. 

j roddy firefly

Joe Papeo

J Roddy Walston and the Business

One of the earlier performances of the day, J Roddy Walston and the Business woke up the crowd with an energized performance.

reptar firefly

Joe Papeo

Reptar

Reptar got their audience rocking out on the last day of the festival. Guitarist Jace Anselem Bartet showed some skin in short shorts during the performance.

AWOLNATION firefly

Joe Papeo

AWOLNATION

The crowd for AWOLNATION screamed the lyrics along with the band, impressing frontman Aaron Bruno. "You guys are amazing," Bruno said. "That’s a brand-new song and you already know it."

cold war kids firefly

Joe Papeo

Cold War Kids

For Cold War Kids, performing at Firefly was an excuse to take a break from working on their new album. "It's really nice to play at a festival like this, to play a couple new songs and also get away from the studio," lead vocalist Nathan Willett told Rolling Stone.

wayne coyne firefly

Joe Papeo

Wayne Coyne’s Balloon Ride

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne took a ride in a hot air balloon before his performance on Sunday. Hot air balloons were one of the special unique attractions for festivalgoers at Firefly.

fitz and the tantrums

Joe Papeo

Fitz and the Tantrums

"Right here, right now. This is where the motherfucking dance party will begin," Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums yelled to the crowd. It was a magnetic performance, peaking when Fitz crowd-surfed during a cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."

death cab for cutie firefly

Joe Papeo

Death Cab for Cutie

Though he gave an energized performance, Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard admitted that he was under the weather. "I'm currently on my favorite drug of all time: Dayquil! It’s over the counter and it's glorious," Gibbard announced to the crowd.

flaming lips firefly

Joe Papeo

The Flaming Lips

"Come on, motherfuckers! This is a party!" screamed Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. What a party it was: audience members in Wizard of Oz costumes dancing onstage, a massive disco ball above them and confetti spewing onto the crowd. Of course, no Flaming Lips concert is complete without Coyne rolling atop the audience in his huge plastic bubble.

the black keys firefly

Joe Papeo

The Black Keys

Even before the Black Keys came onstage, the crowd was pulsing with excitement and anticipation. As the very last headliner at Firefly, the Black Keys closed out the festival with a charged performance.

the black keys firefly

Joe Papeo

The Black Keys

Compared to the Killers’ blinding light show the night before or Jack White’s dramatic blue-and-black color scheme on Friday, the Black Keys gave a visually bare-bones performance. Their raw rock sound was able to shine without distractions.