Home » A+E » Opinion: Firefly festival boasts mostly laid-back lineup

Opinion: Firefly festival boasts mostly laid-back lineup

The genius marketers for most festivals release the lineups in the dead of winter, giving hope to those of us knee deep in winter blues: summer will come.

And with those warmer temperatures and happier times come the slew of music festivals, and as one of the younger music festivals, Firefly is still clawing at the opportunity to make a name for itself way out in Dover, Del.

As the shindig heads into its third year, it is still dwarfed by festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Yet even as a festival infant, Firefly isn’t asking for any sympathy, bagging The Killers, The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie and Dr. Dog in the past three years.

Set for June 19-22, the good vibes are continuing and the lineup this year is big enough for it to deserve a spot on the radar, not to mention exciting enough for us to buy tickets less than a week after they were up for grabs. (Come on, payment plans are really too good to say no.)

Firefly seems to be going for a laid-back vibe and while there are definitely some high-energy acts, the addition of a hammock section in itself makes the concerts seen less like a non-stop rager and more like a chill long weekend basking in good music.

Here’s what we’re looking forward to when we set up camp at Firefly June 19-22.

Headliners: OutKast (like every other festival), Foo Fighters and Jack Johnson

To say fans were devastated at the thought of Dave Grohl never taking the stage again is an understatement. It’s almost impossible to only casually like the Foo Fighters. It’s like casually liking “Breaking Bad” — it just doesn’t happen. Lately though, the beloved group has given hope to fans with new tour dates, hints of what to expect in the latest installment of Foo Fighters music and even unexpected jam sessions in fans’ garages and random parking lots.

With Foo Fighters on the docket for Firefly it didn’t really matter who else was playing at that point. Grohl is a rock legend and has left a legacy in his wake from Nirvana to Them Crooked Vultures to Foo Fighters, not to mention the groups that continuously let him sit in on drums like Queens of the Stone Age. That kind of artistry and musicianship doesn’t come around that often.

Fellow headliner Jack Johnson can only be described as adorable. His 2013 album, “From Here to Now to You,” was written mostly on his porch in Hawaii and I can’t think of a more laid-back vibe, perfect for summer. His sweet voice should be the perfect thing to calm down to after a hot day in the sun.

Iron & Wine

It’s impossible to not feel mellow listening to the bearded wonder named Samuel Beam, better known as Iron & Wine. His simple guitar melodies and cooing, whispery voice sooth even the highest stresses.

While the group has expanded from just a one-man show, songs like “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” are classic and have the kind of simplicity only possible from a poet. The most recent album release of “Ghost on Ghost” in April brought a different sound that shows a full-fledged musical entity —  a long way from just covering The Postal Service.

It’s always seemed like more of a wintertime blues band, but it is doubtful the group will put on a refulgence concert in the blazing heat.

The Airborne Toxic Event

Any group with a literary band name is good in our books. The Airborne Toxic Event pulled its name right out of the second section in Don DeLillo’s postmodern novel “White Noise.” The voice of lead singer Mikel Jollett comes in deep and smooth, fitting for stages in dark, smoky jazz clubs.

The indie band pairs rock music with classical orchestra music, blending the two genres. “Changing” brought me in to The Airborne Toxic Event, and while I doubt the group will be hauling along Calder Quartet, a Los Angeles-based string quartet, with them as they did when playing live at Walt Disney Concert Hall, I’m sure The Airborne Toxic Event will pull out all the stops for Firefly.

Portugal. The Man

To say I have been listening to Portugal. The Man on repeat for the past two weeks might seem like a little much. These little gems from Alaska just don’t get old though. Coming out with approximately an album a year, the band hasn’t let up it’s paceand the most recent album “Evil Friends” was produced by Danger Mouse, so the albums can only get even better from here is my guess.

Let’s just hope John Gourley will still be sporting his classy mustache for the festival, which might be a smidgen hotter than his native home in Alaska.

Local Natives

The Los Angeles-based band is known for bringing a high-energy live show. I tried to catch them at LC Pavilion last spring, but got distracted from the show by someone spilling beer all over me and now I’m ready for another shot.

The band’s percussion beats sold me originally but 2010’s “Gorilla Manor” would be nothing without the harmonies featured throughout the album. The group’s lyrics are dreamlike and the harmony, especially from lead singer Taylor Rice, doesn’t disappoint live.

Regular general passes for Firefly are on sale for $299.

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