Firefly Music Festival kicks off with flood of fans

DOVER — Inside the campsites at the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, the excitement was palpable between people of all ages as they prepared mentally and physically for the adventure that is the Firefly Music Festival. Laughter and smiles were everywhere and campers could be seen sitting by the gates to ensure they were the first to get in. By 5 p.m. on Thursday, the festival welcomed music lovers with open arms as it began its fifth year in Dover.

To help open the gates and kick off the festival, Firefly enlisted the talent of the New Sound Brass Band, a group based out of Philadelphia. With their energy and sounds, the group led a traditional New Orleans second-line march through the non-traditional campgrounds of Firefly.

As tents, lawn games, tarps and cars created a maze in an already filled campsite, guests were drawn to the makeshift streets by the sound of New Sound Brass. Cheers, dancing and selfies were common throughout the performance, and soon enough, the band had a massive following as campers followed the self-proclaimed music of “destructive elegance” to the festival entrance.

“We were really pumped just to be a part of it, but after we’ve seen the energy that everybody has out here, we’re on, like, a thousand right now,” said band member Dan Gould. “We are over the top, over the moon excited about all of this.”

For many, this second-line march marked the beginning of their very first Firefly experience.

“We’ve always been trying to come. It’s just never in the right time when we were able to and we ended up having the option to come this year,” said Philip Wadsley of New Castle. “We’re really looking forward to seeing what they have. We definitely want to check out The Beercade.”

The Beercade is a venue that combines two popular items: beer and arcade games. In between musical acts, guests are encouraged to test their skills at pinball, foosball and other arcade favorites while enjoying a cold drink. Other options to unwind include the ever-favorite Hammock Hangout, The Brewery and The Thicket, which is a silent-disco-themed dance area.

This is also the first year for Felicia Walker of Philadelphia, who is also looking forward to the Beercade and the large selection of bands that will be performing. “I was really excited about all of [the camping] and I still am, aside from the musical acts, which I’m totally pumped for also,” she said.

With the entrances now officially opened, guests, decked out in their best festival-wear, tromped through the mud from the earlier Thursday rain and accepted their shoes’ fates as ruined all in the name of music.

The music at Firefly doesn’t stick to just one style. It covers a vast array of genres that, in turn, appeal to a vast array of fans. Bands play in a large concert format, with as many as five bands performing at the same time across the festival grounds.

Highlighted musicians range from Blink 182 to Earth, Wind and Fire to Mumford and Sons, although some mentioned Thursday that they were simply excited to see new bands and learn more about new artists and new styles of music.

Between the line-ups, the activities and the atmosphere, it seems that Firefly has gained a following and still gives people a reason to return, even after five years.

“I’ve always liked the way it was,” said Alyssa Sanders of Dover. Ms. Sanders has been to every Firefly since its inaugural year in 2012 and has not gotten bored with the experience.

“I hope nothing is that different because I’ve always liked it. I’ve seen it grow in people, artists, stages and now the activities this year.”

Thursday evening welcomed guests who gathered at the Lawn, Backyard, Pavilion and Coffee House stages to sing and dance along with the acts of Lany, Arkells and Robert DeLong.

More stages will be open today as the festival gets going at noon, including the Main Stage, where Kings of Leon will headline tonight.

The headliner for Thursday, Two Door Cinema Club, finished off the night, sending the crowd out on a high note and setting the tone for the rest of the weekend.

With three more full days of the festival, guests still have plenty more to enjoy.

Lexi Coon is a freelance writer living in the Camden area.

Today at Firefly

The main gates will open at noon for the first of three days of at least 12 hours of music.

Wilmington’s Teen Men will kick it off at 12:45 p.m. on The Lawn Stage.

Main Stage acts include The Wombats, Saint Motel, Fitz and The Tantrums, Ellie Goulding and Kings of Leon at 10:45 p.m.

Other big acts include Flogging Molly on The Lawn Stage at 7:15 p.m. preceded by Guster at 5:15.

Of Monsters and Men play The Backyard Stage at 7:15 p.m. followed by Tame Impala at 9:30 p.m.

June Jam headliners The Heydaze will be at The Porch at 3 p.m. while The Moth and The Flame plays The Treehouse starting at 12:15 a.m.

Single-day tickets are still available by visiting fireflyfestival.com.

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