Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon, Deadmau5 among Firefly headliners

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A crowd of 90,000 people attending last year’s Firefly Music Festival in Dover. The same number is expected again next year. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Delaware music fans got an early Christmas present Wednesday morning with the announcement of the Firefly Music Festival lineup.

British folk-rockers Mumford & Sons, Southern rock band Kings of Leon, British indie group Florence & The Machine and electronic dance music (EDM) artist Deadmau5 will be the headliners for the fifth annual festival set for June 16-19 at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway.

The lineup also includes Firefly returnees Ellie Goulding, Death Cab for Cutie and Chvrches along with Disclosure, Blink-182, M83, Tame Impala, The 1975, A$AP Rocky, Of Monsters and Men and Major Lazer among the 100-plus acts.

General admission and VIP pass options go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday through FireflyFestival.com.

General admission passes start at $279. That price increases to $299 on Dec. 31. Camping packages also will be available for purchase Friday.

“We wanted the 2016 lineup to reach a wide audience while resonating with our core Firefly community,” said Christiane Pheil, Talent and Experience director at Firefly Music Festival, in a press release.

“We’re confident this lineup does just that, and we look forward to celebrating our fifth year with music fans from around the world.”

Other notables include rappers Fetty Wap and Ludacris, Fitz & The Tantrums, Guster, Grouplove and R&B veterans Earth Wind and Fire.

Times and days for the performances were not announced Wednesday, a full three months prior to previous annual announcements.

Kings of Leon’s spot at this year’s event is a makeup of sorts since last year’s Saturday night headlining concert had to shelved due to stormy weather conditions and a tornado threat.

Last year’s festival drew a record sold-out crowd of 90,000 people buoyed by a Friday night concert by Sir Paul McCartney.

Officials ‘giddy’

As the announcement was being made Wednesday morning, officials from Red Frog Events in Chicago, producers of Firefly, were in Dover meeting with personnel from host Dover International Speedway firming up plans for both Firefly and the Big Barrel country music festival scheduled a week after.

Speedway president Michael Tatoian said Red Frog officials are ecstatic about this year’s lineup.

“While they may not have Paul McCartney this year, I think the best way to describe them today was giddy,” he said late Wednesday afternoon.

“They just feel that they have the best lineup from top to bottom that they have had in five years. They really have their finger on the pulse of what’s

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Kings of Leon will make a return appearance to Firefly in 2016 after having its 2015 appearance rained out. (Submitted photo)

going on in the music business and what that demo is looking for. I think they nailed it.”

Mr. Tatoian said he and the speedway are preparing for another crowd of upwards of 90,000 next year, which he attributes, in part, to the McCartney effect.

“I think having Paul McCartney last year added so much credibility and so much exposure that the residual effect will attract new fans and new people to the festival now,” he said.

“We are expecting the same large, well-behaved crowd in 2016.”

Last year’s wet, muddy festival was a challenge for officials but Mr. Tatoian says it also educated them for future years.

“It identified spots where we need to improve from an operational standpoint, whether it be a blocked access road or a blocked path when fans were traversing the property that we need to pay attention to and make those capital improvements,” he said.

“With that said, it will rain again, whether it’s in 2016, 17 or 18 and we can’t correct all of the issues that come up when 11 inches of rain wreak havoc on an outdoor event but we think we’ve identified some issues where we can make some progress.”

Fan reaction

Veteran Firefly attendees had plenty of opinions about the lineup on Wednesday.

“While it may lack a Paul McCartney, it is a well-rounded, diverse and mature lineup with a lot of new acts and some ‘gets’ people have been waiting for, like Florence and the Machine, (EDM group) M83 and (Australian rock band) Tame Impala,” said Jesse Fickes, a Milford native now living in Pennsylvania, who moderates the 6,800-member Firefly Music Festival Fan Page on Facebook.

“We’re totally looking forward to talking about it at Winterfly.”

Winterfly, scheduled for March 4-6 in Dewey Beach, is an annual gathering of Firefly fans benefiting music education in Sussex County. It kicks off with a party at the Starboard Bar and Restaurant March 4.

Aside from the headliners, Jean-Pierre Asuncion, a Dover native now living in Maryland who regularly attends Firefly, says he’s looking forward to checking out more of the lesser-known bands.

“I’ll leave it to others to spout off on the strength of draw and buzzworthiness of the first line, but I do like that the fun, crowd favorites have earned a returning invite below that,” he said.

“As far as the mid-tier newcomers, they do fit into the ‘Firefly’ brand of radio-friendly pleasing bands. As in festivals past, I am really looking forward to discovering the 100 unnamed artists and hope there is a distorted guitar among them.”

Angela Shields, a Harrington native living in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, has attended all four Firefly Music Festivals, twice while more than six months’ pregnant, and plans to attend in 2016.

“Overall, I’d say I’m very pleased with the lineup. I am really looking forward to seeing the headliners, especially Mumford and Sons and Florence and the Machine and am happy to see returning acts like (indie rockers) Grouplove on the list,” she said.

“I like this lineup better than last year’s lineup with the exception of McCartney of course. And I’m very happy that Kings of Leon came back after the weather cancellation last year, too.”

Not everyone was as pleased with Wednesday’s announcement.

“In my opinion the lineup is a joke. How these ‘headliners’ could even compare to Sir Paul, Jack White, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers or any of the other actual rock stars from past years is beyond me,” said Ashley Figat of Dover.

“All the headliners are second- or third-line bands in my opinion and I was shocked when they were headlining at Bonnaroo (in Tennessee) last year.

But at least (there) they also had Billy Joel,” she said.

“I do like some of the EDM artists but honestly they’d be a lot cheaper to see at other more EDM-focused festivals and it’s not really worth it to wait all day for a few hours of decent music late at night.

“Unfortunately with these newer artists they’re attracting a younger crowd who I imagine will cause problems. It seems like the crowd and lineups are getting progressively worse while the price goes up. This will be my first year not attending if I stick to my guns and it kind of breaks my heart. But for that much money I will go to another festival.”

Charities, attractions, prices

Festivalgoers can expect the return of attractions such as the Dogfish Head Brewery, The Beercade, The Coffee House, The Market, The Thicket and Hammock Hangout. Officials say new experiences also will debut at the festival in June although Mr. Tatoian expects the festival’s layout to remain the same as last year.

Along with Firefly donating a percentage of proceeds from two pass options to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the festival also is teaming up with Kent County’s Code Purple organization, which has been serving area homeless for more than two years.

Code Purple opens shelters within Kent County when temperatures drop to 32 degrees.

This Firefly effort looks to repurpose the camping equipment left behind by people attending Firefly. The Code Purple team and its community partners will walk the camping area in search of reusable durable camping products including sleeping bags, tents, bed rolls, reusable water bottles, lanterns, flashlights, clothing, footwear and nonperishable foods. All items will be cleaned and/or reconditioned and distributed to the homeless community via Code Purple based on needs.

Along with basic general admission passes for $279, early birds can get a ticket plus a collectible pass for $289 and a pass and water bottle and bandana for $309. Like the basic pass, those prices also go up $20 on Dec. 31.

VIP tickets to Firefly also will go on sale Friday at a cost of $699 and Super VIP passes at $2,499.

New this year, Firefly also is offering a cabana for 10 guests. Those taking advantage will receive Super VIP treatment along with “customized additions to suite your tastes and needs.”

No price was immediately available for the amenity. Those interested are asked to email megan@fireflyfestival.com for more information.

Mr. Tatoian is excited about another year with both of Red Frog’s events.

“We have a great business relationship with them and we genuinely like each other as well,” he said.

“They have been terrific partners and were really the ones that took all of the risk on this. We’re very thankful for them and we think the state, city and community should be as well.”

The full list is below in alphabetical order:

A$AP Rocky
AlunaGeorge
AMFNS
Arkells
Atlas Genius
Blink-182
Bot
Boy & Bear
Catfish & The Bottlemen
Caverns
Chairlift
Cheat Codes
Chvrches
Circa Waves
Civil Twilight
COIN
Coleman Hell
Connell Cruise
D.R.A.M.
Deadmau5
Death Cab For Cutie
Dirty Dishes
Disclosure
Earth, Wind & Fire
Elle King
Ellie Goulding
Elliot Root
Felix Jaehn
Fetty Wap
Finish Ticket
Fitz & The Tantrums
Flogging Molly
Florence & The Machine
Gallant
Generik
Gibbz
GoldLink
Grouplove
Guster
Hayden James
Hippie Sabotage
Holiday Mountain
Hollis Brown
Iamdynamite
Jack Garratt
Jahkoy
Jai Wolf
James Hersey
Jeremy Loops
Kaleo
Kaneholler
Kings Of Leon
Kittens
Laura Stevenson
Lauv
Louis The Child
Ludacris
M83
Mail the Horse
Major and the Monbacks
Major Lazer
Marc Scibilia

Moon Taxi
Motel Radio
Mumford & Sons
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Night Riots
Noah Gundersen
Of Monsters And Men
Oh Wonder
Parson James
Pell
Pepper
Porter Robinson
Powers
PVRIS
Quilt
Robert Delong
Rococode
Rufus Du Sol
Saint Motel
Sam James
Sigala
Slaptop
Son Little
St. Lucia
Strangers You Know
Sun Club
Swim Deep
Tame Impala
Tchami
Teen Men
The 1975
The Heydaze
The Lonely Biscuits
The Neighbourhood
The Shelters
The Staves
The Struts
The White Panda
The Wombats
Transviolet
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Twin Limb
Two Door Cinema Club
Vanic
Vince Staples
WET
Whilk & Misky
William Bolton

 

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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