Firefly 2014 Saturday Highlights: Outkast, Imagine Dragons, Tegan & Sara and More
“Dover, Delaware, on the first day of summer! I’m so excited I don’t know what to do,” said Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins as the band took the stage for their afternoon set at the third annual Firefly Music Festival.That sentiment was shared by the event’s 80,000 attendees on June 21, as Firefly lived up to its growing reputation as the biggest and arguably best party on the East Coast. Thirty-eight bands hit the Firefly’s seven stages, treating audiences to a diverse array of rock, folk, hip-hop and EDM sounds from early afternoon to well past mightnight. We couldn’t catch every artists that lit up Firefly on Saturday, but it was certainly fun trying. Here are our highlights from the event’s third day.
2:10 p.m.: Clouds hang over the Firefly crowd, but they don’t dampen anyone’s spirits as Twenty One Pilots take the main stage, kicking off another day of non-stop tunes in the Woodlands. The band riles up the appreciative crowd with a string of festival-ready jams like “Trees,” “Car Radio” and “Guns for Hands.”
3:30 p.m.: Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins is feeling the love as the band takes the stage for their main stage performance. Eager to spread his good vibes, Jenkins tells the audience members to turn to a stranger next to them and wish them a happy summer. Fans oblige as the band drops “Never Let You Go,” inspiring the first of many sing-alongs during the set.
3:54 p.m.: “We’re not even on tour or anything,” Jenkins says. “We’ve been in the studio working on our fifth album. We just came here from San Francisco to play for you guys.” Third Eye Blind seizes the moment to play a brand new tune called “Back to Zero,” which includes a spoken-word breakdown and matches the catchy enthusiasm of the band’s classic hits. Afterwards, the band gets down to business with a cover of Beyonce’s “Mine,” a snippet of U2’s “With or Without You” and a rollicking rendition of their own mega hit “Semi-Charmed Life,” which inspires one fan to stand on the hands of the crowd. The band leaves the audience with “Jumper,” promising to return when the new album is finished.
5:02 p.m.: MS MR, who are quickly becoming festival veterans, finishes their set after winning over a huge crowd gathered at the Backyard stage. Lizzy Plapinger’s kinetic stage presence, crazy pink hair and bright blue dress certainly helped seal the deal.
5:44 p.m.: Nashville-based band The Wild Feathers -- four guitar players and a drummer who, at times, resemble The Band -- pay tribute to Levon Helm by covering his "Got Me a Woman" on the Coffeehouse stage.
5:51 p.m.: "Look at all these best friends we have today!" Hannah Hooper from Grouplove screams before breaking into fan favorite "Tongue Tied," which proves to be the set’s highlight on the main stage. Next, the band ups the ante with their funky, festival-approved cover of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love.” As usual, everyone in the audience tries to wail like Yoncé, making for a funny and fun crowd sing-along.
6:23 p.m.: “Let's make sure all of the other stages hear us," says Cage the Elephant lead singer Matt Shultz, who’s dressed in all white save for his shoes and belt. The crowd obliges with a roar as the band tears through "In One Ear." Minutes later, a fan throws a pair of men’s underwear onstage. “That’s my sniffing pair,” Shultz says. "Firefly, you guys are crazy. Seriously."
6:58 p.m.: As Cage the Elephant’s set nears its conclusion, a shirtless Shultz makes a final plea for madness in the crowd. "I will be as crazy as possible," he says, encouraging the audience to match him. "I will win," he promises. Security tries in vain to stop the onslaught of crowd surfers being passed toward the stage. Living up to his promise, Shultz finds a way to stand on the hands of crowd members.
7:15 p.m.: Imagine Dragons takes the stage for their second Firefly festival appearance, noting that in 2012, they played one of the event’s smaller stages at 11:30 in the afternoon. Today, they rock a massive main stage crowd at sunset, kicking things off with the anthemic “Fallen.” “We do festivals all the time, but this one is different,” frontman Dan Reynolds says.
7:52 p.m.: As Imagine Dragons pummels the main stage, tUnE-yArDs draws a strong, appreciative crowd to the more intimate Lawn stage. Merrill Garbus shouts out the drummers she met in Haiti who inspired the driving rhythms on 2014 track “Stop That Man,” which is a set favorite. Later, Garbus ends her raucous show with "Water Fountain,” a good, subtle reminder for the festival goers to stay hydrated. “Take care of yourselves and each other," she says, signing off.
8:02 p.m.: After hearing Reynolds discuss Imagine Dragons’ trip to Hong Kong for the “Transformers” movie premiere earlier in the weekend, the crowd begins a chant of “U.S.A!” “I can get down with that,” Reynolds laughs. “I’m from Las Vegas, I love the U.S.A.” With that the band gives their First State fans a treat, performing the new song “Battle Cry” for the first time in America. The Dragons follow with an adrenalized cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” that thrills the Boomers in the field.
8:34 p.m.: "We've got Cage the Elephant up on stage with us!" says Reynolds in the middle of the Dragons’ bombastic performance of "Radioactive." Everyone on stage, including Cage frontman Shultz, finds something to bang on.
9:00 p.m.: Looking like a Blues Brother in his black suit and fedora, Beck kicks sets off his set with "Devil's Haircut" in front of giant flashing numbers. Featured on bass is producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who also worked on Tegan & Sara’s 2013 breakthrough album ‘Hearthrob.’ Coincidently, the Canadian wonder twins are 15 minutes into their set, just a few hundred feet away on the Backyard stage.
9:10 p.m.: Three songs in, Beck breaks into "Loser" and a unanimous sing-along commences. Mr. Hansen continues to pull out all the stops, dropping one funky hit after another with a run that includes “Qué Onda Güero,” “Hell Yes” and “Sexx Laws.” Halfway through the set, Beck brings down the vibe for gorgeous renditions of quieter tunes “Blue Moon” and “Lost Cause.”
9:35 p.m.: Tegan & Sara give a lively crowd what it wants, ending their set with “Closer.” Energy in the crowd is off the charts; even the most macho festival bro is jumping giddily and dancing like Molly Ringwald circa "Breakfast Club."
10:30 p.m.: It’s headliner time at Firefly and Outkast is the only game in town. Eighty-thousand fans crowd around the main stage as the duo explodes with “B.O.B.” Andre 3000 wears a white wig and shades and a black jumpsuit that reads “Children of the Cornbread” on his chest.
10:40 p.m.: Andre and Big Boi take a break from the bangers to talk about their 20-year legacy. They’re smiling, bantering back and forth and seeming like they’re having more fun onstage than they’ve had all tour.
11:12 p.m.: After a run of funky, ass-shaking jams, Andre 3000 slows things down with a few mellow jams from “The Love Below.” “If You don’t get nothing from your girlfriend or boyfriend tonight, then I can’t do nothing for ya,” he says, breaking into “Prototype.” From there, he picks up the pace, inviting several women onstage to shake it like a Polaroid picture for the hand-raising “Hey Ya!” As Dre stops to hug each lady, one in particular catches his eye. “Whoever makin' these shorts deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.”
11:40 p.m.: “There’s a lot of bitches in the house tonight,” Andre jokes. “Bitch ain’t no bad word. Stop playing like it is. Whore ain’t no bad word neither.” “What about slut,” Big Boi asks. “Hell no slut ain’t no bad word. Do what you gotta do!” With that, the stage is set for “Roses,” which sees the entire crowd chanting the refrain “crazy bitch.” Later, the duo cleaned up their act with “So Fresh, So Clean.”
12:15 a.m.: Outkast leaves fans with “The Whole World,” but Dre and Big Boi don’t get the last word. Firefly after-dark rolls as a massive crowd makes it way to the Backyard stage. Colorado-born beatmaven Pretty Lights (aka Derek Vincent Smith) lives up to his name, lighting up the night sky with an dazzling laser display that elicits collective gasps from the audience.