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Firefly Day 3 Highlights: Bob Dylan Plays (Some) Hits, Kesha's Wild Return & More
Day three of the Firefly Music Festival was by far the most impressive in terms of its lineup: Bob Dylan, Kesha, The Weeknd and Chance the Rapper all performed back-to-back sets, providing nonstop, top tier talent from 8:30 p.m. to 1:45 a.m.
Earlier performances from rising acts like Muna, Sunflower Bean, Francis and the Lights and Lewis Del Mar hit just as hard -- proving the third day of the festival to be the strongest yet. While the threat of rain never came (so far the festival has avoided bad weather), the heat took its toll on many artists (and prompted a handful, from Francis to Kesha, to strip down).
Aside from artist's taking their clothes off, here's a rundown of the best things that happened at Firefly on Saturday (June 17).
Muna's "LGBTQIA" Shout Out
The crowd for Muna's afternoon set was notably thinner than that of its performances in Chicago or New York, but the energy and intention was all the same. The female dark-pop trio, clad in variations of yellow and black outfits, ran through tracks off its debut album About U -- which has earned them national recognition and even an opening slot on tour with Harry Styles, which they didn't plug once -- while white roses adorned their mic stands.
The group also performed a new song "In My Way" as well as an fervent cover of Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life": "This is for anyone who was emo as a preteen," vocalist Katie Gavin said as she tossed her shades off. Towards the end of the set, Gavin called out Pride month and dedicated the final song to "our LGBTQIA family," before delivering its jump-worthy and lively song "I Know A Place."
Sunflower Bean Performing New Music
Brooklyn-based rocker group Sunflower Bean has carved its place in live music by delivering a hard-hitting, distortion-heavy rock show time after time. It's afternoon set -- at the peak of the day's heat -- was no different. Frontwoman Julia Cumming, dressed in all black, traded riffs for head bangs throughout the set while drummer Jacob Faber took his shirt off ("I've been waiting for him to do that for two years," Cumming laughed). While hits like "Come On" and "Easier Said" got the crowd moving, the trio also revealed its sophomore album is underway and played three new tracks that showed its direction towards even more honest, and slightly more pop, music.
Francis and the Lights' Sweaty Set
Francis and the Lights is frequenting the summer festival circuit, almost as much as his buddy and dance partner Chance the Rapper, but with each show he manages to keep it fresh by switching up his set list and tossing in new (and debatably improvised) choreography. While Francis performed with a DJ during his set at Governor's Ball (on June 2), he appeared solo at Firefly -- allowing for the entire open stage to become his dance floor.
The space proved not large enough, as Francis still hopped onto the field halfway through his set to run in a circle around the crowd (as he did at Gov Ball) and proceed to climb up one of the rafters -- all the while with his shirt off. Once back on stage, the singer struggled (twice) to put his signature shoulder-padded bomber jacket back on, though managed to do so in time for "May I Have This Dance" (sans Chano). He then appropriately ended with a few verses from "Thank You," the final track off debut album, Farewell, Starlite!, though returned moments later (without a mic) to personally thank the crowd once more, "I thought this was a nice way to end it," he said. "I will see you later," (hinting at how he would join Chance during his 12:30 a.m. set.
Bob Dylan's Set list
Following an acoustic intro, Bob Dylan strolled on stage without so much as a smile or wave -- and it didn't even matter. Under the cover of the cotton candy colored sky, Dylan took his seat at the piano, and along with his five piece backing band, fittingly opened the set with "Things Have Changed," off his 2006 album, Modern Times. Over the years fans have been quick to dismiss Dylan's live shows, making the argument his voice is gone and he never plays "the hits," and while his deep rasp was grainy as ever, his vocals did have moments of crisp clarity that had the audience rooting for him even more.
The set list, too, both surprised and pleased the audience as Dylan threw in reimagined versions of fan favorites like "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," "Make You Feel My Love" (originally written by Dylan though first performed by Billy Joel in 1997), "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Highway 61 Revisited" and more. Famous fans like Dillon Francis, The Naked and Famous members and Kesha -- a huge admirer of Dylan -- were all in attendance to watch the legend perform, and he did nothing more than that.
Kesha's Onstage Party
Silver tinsel streamers and light up letters that spelled "F--k The World" served as the backdrop -- and overall message -- for Kesha's incredible set. "I'm an advocate for equal rights and I will be until the day I die," the party girl pop star told the dense crowd. Rocking a western-inspired pantsuit -- she later undid the top and took off her bottoms to reveal a short skirt, instead -- with colored fringe and the letters "FTW" on her butt, Kesha's set had a unusual aesthetic that combined cowboy hats, furry animal heads and, of course, lots of glitter.
She told fans, "I met my hero today, Bob Dylan," and though she has performed his song "I Shall Be Released" that particular cover didn't make it into tonight's set (nor would it have fit in among her hits like "We R Who We R," Your Love Is My Drug," "Tik Tok" and the rest) as she rather opted for a sweeping cover of Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me." "I know I haven't put out new music in a bit, but that's not my choice," she said ahead the song, referencing her ongoing legal battle with Dr. Luke. "Please continue to be kind and patient. It's been a rough ride." The crowd then erupts in a "Kesha" chant, that she whips out her phone to film.
"don't ever give some other motherfucker the keys to your happiness"-kesha as she sang a cover of "you don't own me" pic.twitter.com/3e6F9k1dSC— Alexa Shouneyia (@ashouneyia) June 18, 2017
Towards the end of the set, she delivers a more rock driven version of "Blow," performs "Take It Off" ("That was transcendental," she said after), banged on a glitter-filled drum, fired off confetti canons and, finally, called it a night with her most-recent feature, Pitbull's 2013 hit "Timber."
The Weeknd's Flawless Falsetto
Starboy performed under a larger-than-life triangle that raised, tilted, lit up and even fired off sparks during his headlining set on the Firefly stage. "This is my first time at this festival," he said. "You think they can hear us in Philly?" Aside from that instance, Abel barely addressed the crowd in his soft and high-pitched speaking voice and rather sang his words in between songs, showcasing his effortless falsetto and comfortability with his voice.
Te set list displayed his career of hits, from "Wicked Games" off debut album, House of Balloons, to "Often" and "Acquainted" off 2015's Beauty Behind the Madness, and, of course, recent hits of Starboy including the title track (that opened the set) and the Daft Punk-assisted "I Feel It Coming," which closed the set complete with fireworks and all. After a brief pause, The Weeknd returned for one more -- "The Hills" -- before ending 15 minutes early.
Chance Powering Through
Chance the Rapper has been making his rounds at seemingly every festival, and during his 12:30 a.m. set his nonstop performing seemed to take a toll -- but he powered through, even going over his scheduled 1:45 a.m. end time. The set more or less mirrored that of Governor's Ball -- he performed the Acid Rap track "Lost" this time, which didn't make it into the Gov Ball set list -- though Chano's energy levels were lower and his voice sounded hoarse.
The small, onstage choir delivered an extended version of "D.R.A.M. Sings Special," offering the rapper a chance to catch his breath backstage -- if only for a moment. Even during "I'm the One," Chance let the music video that played behind him do most of the talking, jumping in for the lines of his verse and to flash his shiny Gucci belt. By the time he got to "Favorite Song" and "Cocoa Butter Kisses," he was speak-singing the lyrics, asking the crowd to help him out -- "I shouldn't be able to hear myself sing," he said.
It was clear Chance was trying to push through and give the performance his all, especially during the routine with Francis and the Lights for "May I Have This Dance" -- Francis was the only special guest he brought out; Chance's younger brother Taylor Bennett played the festival a few hours prior, but never made an appearance (Chance gave him a shout-out, though).
Towards the end of the set, Chance humble-bragged as he freestyled a verse that called attention to his crazy schedule: "I'mma talk my shit... already did Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and my own fest, too," he stated. As the clock approached the 1:45 a.m. mark, Chano could have called it a night after "No Problem," but true to form, he kept going. He came back out -- though took a seat -- for "Same Drugs" and "Blessings (Reprise)," before taking his final bow and putting an end to day three.