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Firefly Music Festival – Dover, DE (A Concert Review)

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

Firefly Music Festival – The Woodlands- Dover, DE – September 23 to 26, 2021 (A Concert Review)

Although this was the first Firefly Festival back after a year and a half off due to the COVID-19 pandemic – or perhaps because of it – fans were more eager than ever before to run through the gates to the four-day-long festival.

This was the second year of Firefly being under the ownership of AEG Presents, and the hard work the company put into creating the best possible experience for fans and artists definitely was clear. Taking place in The Woodlands of Dover, Delaware, right next to Dover International Speedway, this year’s lineup included Billie Eilish, The Killers, Tame Impala, Lizzo, Phoebe Bridgers, Cage The Elephant, Megan Thee Stallion, and many more fan-favorites. The diversity of genres of artists performing is what makes Firefly such a special experience.

What makes Firefly unique isn’t just the performances, but the atmosphere and the overall experience. Since its start in July 2012, festivalgoers are offered the chance to camp at the festival, whether that be in an RV, a glamping site, or just a pop-up tent and sleeping bag. The ability to camp on festival grounds gives festival-goers easy access to the music, activities, shopping, and food that Firefly has to offer.

The festival has several options of different price ranges for camping at the festival. These includi South Tent Camping (within walking distance from the festival) and North Tent Camping (within walking distance from the festival and includes a private entrance to the event, as well as exclusive hang-out spots). There is also Meadows Glamping (includes twin or queen-sized beds, air conditioning, and concierge service), Infield Glamping (includes pre-set tents in the race track, complete with a private lounge, air-conditioned restrooms, shower passes, power courses, and shuttles to the festival), Then there is infield RV Camping (includes a plot big inside the race track, spacious enough for an RV and plenty of space to spare), and many more options from affordable to a well-deserved splurge!

Even if festivalgoers are unable to camp at the festival, they are still able to have the full Firefly experience with the various activities inside of the festival. This year, the experience includes The Treehouse, The Thicket Silence Disco, The Nest, The North Hub Beach Club, The Roller Rink, The Hammock Hangout, Firefly’s first-ever Pride Parade, and much more!

The Treehouse is perfect for festivalgoers who want to unwind and listen to acoustic performances, as well as interviews with budding artists. If you are looking for a dance break with friends complete with your own personal set of headphones to hear some tunes, The Thicket Silent Disco is right up your alley. If you want to continue the party with DJs nestled among the trees, even after headliners are finished performing, you should definitely check out The Nest.

The North Hub Beach Club, running all weekend long, is the perfect spot to relax, cool down with drinks from the Tiki Bar, play volleyball, and return later in the night for an electric silent disco. Need a break from the performances and want to let loose and have fun with friends? We would totally recommend checking out the new Roller Rink in the North Hub! Our favorite spot to literally hang out is back-- The Hammock Hangout! This year, we were so excited to attend the festival’s first Pride Parade, led by Monique Heart and LaLaRi!

Firefly has always had the most fire food options, and this year was the best yet. The food option lineup included everything from “BBQ Bueno”, “Island Noodles”, and “Two Guys Chicken & Fries” to “Nomad Coffee”, “Carvel Ice Cream”, and even “Rita’s Water Ice”! The eating options at the festival have definitely been more inclusive and aware of food sensitivities and allergies, veganism, vegetarianism, and the basic picky eater. You can’t have a great festival without great food, and Firefly nailed it.

There were also philanthropic and public service areas. For example, Headcount is an organization that registers voters at community events, more specifically concerts. Founded by The Disco Biscuits, many artists have utilized their services for their own events. Can be found at Governors Ball, Global Citizen, as well as touring with Harry Styles on his current tour. Head Count is always looking for volunteers to attend festivals for free and register voters. We spoke with a volunteer from the past 3 years, she was absolutely thrilled with the program.

Mental Edge Counseling is a counseling center located in Dover Delaware offering a wide variety of services surrounding mental health. It was their first year at Firefly with a tent that offered a safe space and a calm escape from the four-day constant partying. Messages of self-love and polaroids of festival goers decorated the walls of the tent. Focusing on outreach as well as inpatient treatment, Mental Edge Counseling is a well-rounded center. Feel free to reach out if you ever need an internship.

Another aspect of this year’s festival that we love is that nearly almost every performance was live-streamed powered by Mandolin, so people unable to attend could watch from the comfort of their own home or campsite. Virtual meet and greet experiences were also offered this year to assure the safety of fans and artists, alike, which definitely makes the experience just as special for those who could not physically be at this year’s Firefly Festival. “Live From Firefly” also offered fans the option to be notified when their favorite performers would be on, so they wouldn’t miss a second of the action.

Thursday night’s headliners included Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers, Girl in Red, Marc Rebillet, and more. Even though there was a bit of a rain delay, festivalgoers kept their electric energy when the gates finally opened that night. While some walked onto the festival grounds admiring the sparkling LED lights all around, others ran to secure a spot at the stage at which their favorite performances would be held.

Phoebe Bridgers lit up the stage, stepping out in her iconic rhinestone-covered skeleton top. She played hits such as “Motion Sickness” and “Kyoto” as well as a cover of comedian Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling.”

Up next was the iconic Billie Eilish. We spoke to several fans before the show and they said they ran straight to the Firefly stage the second the gates opened to see Billie, nearly 4 hours before she would come out. Once the stage lights went out, the audience went wild in anticipation of Billie’s long-awaited performance. She played new songs like “Happier Than Ever” and “Oxytocin”, then some older hits for her die-hard fans including “Ocean Eyes”, “bellyache”, and “ilomilo.”

Friday’s performances were definitely ones for the books. Headliners included Cage the Elephant, The Killers, Wiz Khalifa, Band of Horses, and Ian Dior. Multiple time performers, Cage the Elephant, took the stage by storm with hit songs “Come a Little Closer”, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”, and obviously “Cigarette Daydreams”. By the way that the fans sang their hearts out, we could tell this this performance was much needed. Up next on the Backyard stage, Wiz Khalifa fans who waited all day, finally got to catch his performance. Wiz got the crowd dancing with “Black and Yellow”, “Roll Up”, and “We Dem Boyz.”

Saturday’s thrilling performances included those by Tame Impala, Roddy Rich, Diplo, Glass Animals, and many more. Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know the Better” and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” took fans on a spiritual ride, complete with astonishing visuals on the screens, and a captivating light show. Though it was late in the night, Diplo got festivalgoers on their feet with his performance featuring rhythmic remixes of various hit songs. Fans were adorned with glowsticks throughout the audience, adding to the festival’s ambiance.

Though it was the last day, headliners Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, and Machine Gun Kelly finished off Firefly Festival 2021 with a bang. Lizzo fans were ecstatic to hear top hits “Juice” and “Rumors”, accompanied by a breathtaking performance, Megan Thee Stallion fans were not close to disappointed after hearing and shaking it along to “Savage” and “Body”, and Machine Gun Kelly fans rocked out to “I Think I’m OKAY”, “ex’s best friend”, and even a cover of Paramore’s “Misery Business”. It is safe to say that this year had one of the best lineups yet.

This year’s festival most definitely made up for lost time during the pandemic. Though this is only AEG Presents’ second year of ownership over Firefly, they did an outstanding job of organizing an insane lineup, fun activities, and creating a weekend that people will never forget.

While we are all sad to see this year’s Firefly Festival come to an end, we cannot wait to see what is in store for next year!

Kayla Marra

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: September 28, 2021.

Photos © 2021 by Isa Barnett, Kayla Marra and Ava Gangwer. All rights reserved.

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