Vampire Weekend | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Firefly On The Fly: Sunday sundown with Vampire Weekend, Hop Along, Car Seat Headrest, Jessie Reyez and more
The third and final day of this year’s Firefly Festival was a hot one for audiences and artists alike. Many people were spotted hanging more along the sides of the stage for shade and more than a few artists made comments along the lines of “It’s hot as fuck up here!” While it appeared that the daytime attendance was up on Sunday, the “Super VIP” section was lacking some Super VIPS and many were upgraded to get closer to their favorite artists.
The day started with Compton rapper Boogie ,who seemed grateful to get close to the crowd and jumped in at one point to see if anyone wanted to show off their rapping skills. A very talented female MC who told us her name was Re the OG took on the challenge and blew all of our minds. Boogie’s songs weren’t too shabby either. “Silent Ride,” and “Self Destruction,” had the crowd shouting and jumping around which is a feat for the first act on the last day of a festival.
070 Shake‘s dedicated fan base also brought the love. The Bergen, New Jersey artist sang songs of heartbreak and hope to many crying girls in the audience who felt it all. Her visuals included clips of Kill Bill, Interstellar, and Moonlight, interspersed with clips of her and her mentor Kanye West.
I wandered around to Tyla Yaweh‘s set, and to NoMBe‘s set as well. While they had a great crowd at each, neither grabbed me. Then I walked to the Lawn Stage to check out Jessie Reyez and wow wow wow! She climbed the lighting rig, she crowd surfed, she told us all to fucking forget our exes. All in all, she was the fucking truth.
I then stopped by the Hideaway Stage to catch a tiny bit of Jukebox the Ghost. Despite it being billed as “Jukebox the Ghost Plays Queen,” they started the set by playing three of their songs…so nah.
On the Lawn Stage, Seattle-via-Virginia indie outfit Car Seat Headrest seemed prime for some afternoon sunburn (they surely had the SPF30 in full effect) and rocked their way through jammers like “Bodys” from last year’s new / old Twin Fantasy and an excellent “Fill In The Blank” from their 2016 album Teens of Denial. However, that album’s big hit, “Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales” got a mellowed-out new arrangement — unusual for an already mellow song.
Finally, the moment I was waiting for: not one, but two sets from Philly favorites Hop Along. The first took place on the Toyota Music Den stage and was a short set featuring all songs from Bark Your Head Off, Dog with the exception of an acoustic performance of “Some Grace,” from Get Disowned.
Their second set took place on the much larger Hideaway Stage, where Hop Along reached back into their catalog more and were able to expand the songs. Highlights were “Prior Things,” which they have been able to successfully rearrange without the string section, and “The Knock,” which turned into a rager courtesy of Joe Reinhart’s searing guitar playing.
To close out The Key’s weekend at Firefly, we caught Vampire Weekend playing the festival’s main stage…and they have upheld their reputation as the ultimate summer fun band. Their sound has grown more jammy as of late, even taking to long guitar solos where band leader Ezra Koenig trades licks with new guitarist Brian Robert Jones, and beat-heavy song “breakdowns” as well. While hipsters of yore may scoff at this, it’s the best way a headliner can keep the attention of a Festival goer being pulled in dozens of directions by various stages, vibe zones, “brand experiences,” and vendors.
Overall, Firefly has become a festival for east coast concertgoers to look forward to each year, and they can keep that trajectory going if they maintain their pop and new discovery angle with some modest sized headliners for good measure. There’s plenty of room, helpful staff and volunteers, and music loving crowds having a great time.