Jea Street Jr. | photo by Joe del Tufo for WXPN

As the sole Delaware-based band at Firefly, Jea Street Jr. had a lot on his shoulders kicking off the festival from the South Hub as the rain subsided on Friday. Street and his all-star band did not disappoint. With a set billed as Artivism, with activism and social justice embedded in most of the lyrical content, Street connected well with a crowd that grew with each song.

The track “Bad Dude” tackles some of the issues around police brutality, but from a different perspective than you’ve heard before. “Red Jeans” follows appropriately telling the story of a doctor who works on the young people who come into his hospital and leave as nothing but blood on stripped jeans in his OR. With amazing vocals by both Street and rapper Splitfaces, the songs are topical without being lyrically or emotionally predictable.

As Artivism, it creates more questions than answers and drew strong applause during each track, from a crowd that clearly had no prior exposure to the music. The closing “Better Man,” a song about fatherhood and the goal of creating children, specifically sons, who are better people than ourselves was standout. A beautiful reminder of a truth rarely spoken. Both the percussionist Jonathan Whitney and violinist Alice Marie were standout, and collectively they did a great job kicking off the festival with food for the mind.

Bad Dude
Red Jeans
That’s Your Brother
Better Man