Distant from the desert plains of Indio, miles away from the Tennessee sun, Firefly has made camp in the Woodlands of Dover to differentiate themselves from the rest of the festival scene. Considered a baby in the arena with only 4 years behind them, that doesn’t phase Goldenvoice in the slightest. With a lineup that arguably trumps those of Bonnaroo and arguably even Coachella, don’t let this East Coast gathering slip through your fingers next year.

Day 1: With the hiccup that was car camping, I managed to get into a spot without even showing my pass; wasting a (in my opinion) ridiculous fee of $172. It doesn’t help that the grounds were easily a mile walk from my tent’s humble abode. Setting up shop, it was apparent that mother nature was not going to be on the festival goers’ side during these 4 days. Mud. Lots of it. Everywhere. Just walking from set to set made any Indiana Jones or Vietnam jungle metaphors come to mind. Alas, after making my way to the inappropriately named “Lawn Stage”, due to lack of grass anywhere, it was time for the music to begin. Being a Thursday, it was shorter, with most of the well-recognized artists playing the following 3 days. First up was Jungle. These London newcomers jammed funkadelically into everyone’s hearts. Playing everything from “Platoon” to “Busy Earnin”” these Brits turned the crowd into a slippery (I.e. mud) dance floor. Psychedelic synths and sweetly pleasing vocals made for a pleasurable beginning to a memorable 4 days of harmony.

Joining the good vibes, is another English band you might be familiar with; The Kooks. Their young-hearted and whimsical performance was enjoyed by all in attendance. Admittedly, I was a bit impressed at the energy given by the audience; crowd-surfing, people riding inflatable lobsters, and the infamous devil horns being thrown up multiple times. Unaware that “Junk of The Heart”, “Naive”, and “Bad Habit” could exhibit such Slayer-like emotions, I smiled as this surprisingly spirited set ended with “Sweet Emotion”.

Day 2: Sporting an incredible amount of talent, as well as terrific weather, Friday was the first day I could get a real glimpse of this festival. With the sun having caked over a big portion of the mud-infested grounds, it was no longer a formidable trek to see bands.

Coming off their wildly popular album ‘Talking Is Hard’, Walk The Moon brought a hefty set list of goodies. From their popular, “Shut Up And Dance” to “Anna Sun”, the environment was other-worldly. Engaging us all in jumps and synchronized movements, the whole show felt more like an hour and fifteen minute long experience than an act. All around, in every direction, were people smiling and dancing in unparalleled fashion. The vibe from their music more than transferred to every living, breathing, jamming individual at the Lawn Stage that afternoon.

This being the third time I’ve covered Cage The Elephant, what more is there to say that hasn’t already been said? The Kentucky group came out with boisterous energy that was unrivaled by anyone thus far. Captivating. Surprising. Brilliant. The Main stage was lucky to have Matt and his rowdy companions grace it. “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”, “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Spiderhead” were beautifully performed with the audience. Cage The Elephant has a magic about them on how they manage to lasso everyone into their rock opera. Not to mention, Matt is always stage diving, juking his hips around like an overenthusiastic Elvis Presley, and embodying the full soul of a rock performance. Finishing up their set with “Come A Little Closer” and “Shake Me Down”, Cage left  thousands in a shock and awe equivalent of a New Years firework show; tantalizing.

The highly-anticipated Modest Mouse was next on the list. After a long awaited 8 years since their last album, the unique, quirky, indie rock band was back. Stunningly, their sound hadn’t changed in the slightest; an almost uncanny familiarity as if they haven’t disappeared for a decade. With old hits “Ocean Breathes Salty” and new ones like “Lampshades On Fire” both dedicated and newly-inducted fans of the group were more than pleased. The, from what I counted, 8-man troupe delivered an Arcade Fire-like stage presence while ending with a chorus of voices singing “Float On”.

Finally, the man himself was about to play. About to strum, and sing, and bring together thousands and thousands of people for two hours. Paul McCartney. An innovator. A being that changed it all; revolutionized the way we hear music today. It was almost a dream to be in his presence. You grow up your whole life, listening to that voice, seeing historic images of him and The Beatles, but it doesn’t compare to actually hearing a song. Hearing that voice play a song that millions of people instinctually know the lyrics to is a trip. Hell, it was psychedelic while sober. Now Paul didn’t just play a couple tunes and then leave; he’d play “Paperback Writer” and then tell a story in between. No ordinary story though. Legendary lores. His first: talking about Eric Clapton and Jimmi Hendrix as if it was no big deal. His nonchalance on the topic showed how he’s seen it all. Done it all. Paul was the epitome of rock Gods. He did nothing less than keep that notoriety maintained by putting on an amazing show that Friday night. “Blackbird”, “Enanor Rigby”, “Let It Be”, “Live and Let Die” (which was accompanied by an incredible pyrotechnic ensemble and fireworks) ended his show before an encore. As he sat behind his piano during “Hey Jude”, this was possibly the most moving experiences I’ve ever been a part of. With the chorus being shouted passionately among every soul, it was an environment that could never be replicated. Goosebumps is all I can say.

Day 3: With a little bit of free time today, I was given the chance to check out some of the attractions that were unique to this festival. Between relaxing in the tranquil hammock hangout among the trees, and spending far too much time in the Beercade (exactly what it sounds like), my first act of the day was coming up.

Starting off day 3 with a bang was the always entertaining duo of Matt & Kim. Known for being one of the most animated acts around, they made sure to honor that distinction. The Brooklyn natives had no problem effortlessly creating the liveliest act of the festival so far. Having hundreds of bodies crowdsurfing to their song “Now”, Kim twerking while being lifted by the crowd, and having everyone take off an article of clothing for “It’s Alright”…. I’m speechless. They did it again. No one, to this day, can compare to amping up an audience. Take a bow, you two.

Next, over at The Lawn Stage, was Spoon. As the weather grew a bit colder and gloomier, the show must go on, and Spoon wasn’t going to dumb it down because the weather had decided to. They held nothing back while bringing forth their arsenal of hits, each was better than the last. Striding all across the stage and reaching out to fans while singing “Rent I Pay” was a story in itself. Something special about Spoon is their genuine smiles; their childlike antics in-between songs, and absolute fun you can see through their performance. As one could’ve guessed, “Mathematical Mind”, “I Summon You”, and “Turn My Camera On” were all played. Another consistent exceptional hour of well done musical ability .

As a long time listener of Sublime, I’ve always been skeptical of Sublime With Rome. Feeling like it could never reflect the true spirit and sound without Bradley Nowell. I now admit, completely, that I couldn’t be more wrong. I was astounded by the way they clicked and the wonderful harmony that resulted as a byproduct. “Wrong Way” and “Smoke Two Joints” started off the ska punk in illustrious fashion. “40 Oz. To Freedom” rang out, the hazy smoke arose as joints were lit, but something happened. Immediately after their song ended, the sound was cut and a spokesman of the festival came on. He alerted everyone to head back to their campgrounds as the rest of the night was canceled. Not to much surprise, Rome Ramirez was not entirely thrilled. You could visually see how upset he was by his animated retaliation; but there was no use. Firefly Day 3 had come to an end due to thunderstorms that pummeled the Delaware city for the rest of the night.

Day 4: After the shenanigans that had unfurled last night, the promise for a good day still was worn on everyone’s faces. However, the grounds were in worse shape than ever. The rain that had poured all night had done extensive damage to everywhere inside. Massive puddles, mudpits, and overall just slushy muck was felt in almost every step.

Cold War Kids arrived on the Main Stage with one helluva performance. Playing it all; “First”, “Miracle Mile”, and “All This Could Be Yours” with gorgeous vocals. These guys gave it all, and unfortunately, their lively intensity was not reciprocated by their audience. In fact, it was quite underwhelming in terms of what I’ve seen in the last three days. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a crowd; especially when a band was giving every ounce of their energy… maybe everyone was still pissed off at the mud.

Next up to pause this non-stop train of rock was Hozier. A little bit of medicinal soul to give our ringing ears a break. The quick-to-rise popularity of Andrew was more than deserved. Hozier‘s music separates himself from the majority. With easily some of the most pleasant vocals in the business, he enchanted with ease. While he’s not a Cage The Elephant running all around the stage type, he managed to satisfy us all with his stationary actions. As expected, “Work Song” and “Take Me To Church” were played to perfection and left everyone in great moods to continue their day 3 with smiles all around.

Over on the Porch Stage, Citizen Cope showed up for a welcome burst of chill vibes. With a great balance of relaxing songs like “If There’s Love” and more fast-paced tunes like “Let The Drummer Kick”, his show was well-received. Although it didn’t amass the fans, like bands who were on the Main Stage, it was apparent that everyone in attendance was a passionate fan of this soothing group. A very dedicated experience over all.

Closing this 4 day extravaganza was The Killers. The ever-popular group seems to make gold on everything they bring out of the studio. With an interesting set, including a giant illumined crooked letter “K” behind them, the show started off with a bang. Jumping right out the gate with “Mr. Brightside” made everyone seem to lose their minds in the packed venue. But The Killers aren’t one to just stick to their music; they, in fact, played a couple other recognizable songs. Their covers included Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Bad Moon Rising”, and Kings Of Leon‘s “Use Somebody”. Wrought with sprightly movement and crowd engagements, the systematic precision of those 4, gave a mind-blowing show to those lucky enough to be present. “Runaways”, Human”, and the encore, “All These Things I’ve Done”, put a wonderful night cap on the adventure that’s called Firefly Music Festival.

I have high hopes for this festival. If a decent amount of progress is made in the next few years, I can see this being a competitor among giants. There’s a lot that needs to be worked on to make it more of an experience than just a place to watch music. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on Goldenvoice’s side, but don’t let that take away from the incredible acts that were brought in. With their ability to get so much fantastic talent, expect for only greater things to come out of Delaware’s Woodlands.