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That being said, this praise comes from a longtime Smiths fanatic -- and fellow fans seemed in short supply at Firefly. Morrissey attracted a modest crowd to his Friday evening set, and many of those who did show up petered out when it became clear his setlist wasn't a checklist of Smiths' singles.
Other than lovely versions of "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and "Suedehead," the most recognizable track Morrissey delivered was an impassioned, aggressive take on the Smiths' "Meat Is Murder."
For an artist who frequently demands venues go vegetarian if he performs there, it was curious that he graced the meat-friendly Firefly with his presence. But Morrissey took the festival's open-meat policy as an invitation for vociferous preaching. While he sang the title track to the Smiths' classic second album, images of factory animals being beaten, tormented and slaughtered flashed behind him. The footage was accompanied by captions, revealing abuses both international and domestic (footage of animals in the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the U.S. was especially disturbing).
And Moz wasn't just preaching to the choir. Not far from the stage was a food truck vendor called Sum Pig (selling swine, unsurprisingly) and a taco truck. While the taco truck had three varied vegetarian options, it still offered pork and chicken -- which was consumed by plenty of Morrissey fans less than 15 minutes after the final image of "Meat Is Murder" flashed on the screen.
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That final image, incidentally, was a title card challenging the audience with the words "What's your excuse now?" Clearly, many Morrissey fans weren't perturbed enough by the footage to change their dietary habits, but the disturbing footage nevertheless stood out as a rarity at Firefly, or any festival for that matter -- an instance of an artist forcing fans to confront a troubling reality that people typically shrug off during their daily lives. Hell, even if you're interested in learning more about factory farming, most people don't want to do it at a festival they've paid hundreds of dollars to attend and unwind at.
But that's the compelling beauty of Morrissey. While a plethora of performers pretend like they don't give a fuck, he really doesn't.