Live: Firefly Pulls in the Stars

"There's a lotta you!" a surprised Courtney Barnett said from the stage on June 19, the opening day of the third annual Firefly Festival in Dover, Del. The Aussie rocker, one of the first acts to play the fest, drew a big crowd with her witty lyrics. "I was scared about how many people would come to our show," she added.

Barnett needn't have worried. Attendance at the event, which grew from three days to four, swelled to 80,000, a 30 percent jump over the 2013 edition, according to organizers. "When we played Firefly for the first time, it was kind of a secret. That was part of what made it cool," says Young the Giant percussionist Sameer Gadhia. "But I'm excited to see how it's grown, and it still maintains a laid-back feel."

Nine stages hosted 124 acts. Highlights included the balls-out rock of Weezer and headliners Foo Fighters; the pop psychedelia of Beck, who dedicated "E-Pro" to the My Little Pony fans in the crowd; the frantic raps of Outkast and Childish Gambino; and Pretty Lights' mind-melting laser show, which could have doubled as a Spielberg-directed alien-invasion scene.

There was a drawback: Although the festival site is surrounded by forest, it grew so dusty that many attendees wore bandanas over their mouths. Some have called Firefly the East Coast Coachella, but it's doubtful this is what they had in mind.

Still, the successes far outweighed the snafus. Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic, which closed the fest with a raucous EDM afterparty, seemed to speak for most fans and artists present when he gushed to the crowd, "Firefly, seriously, we love you."


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