A look back at Firefly as it continues to be one of the hottest tickets on the East Coast

Max Lowther and Max Lowther

Firefly Music Festival continued its four-day experience for the seventh year as The Woodlands of Dover, Delaware were consumed with awing performances from June 14ththrough June 17th. Firefly 2018 featured rare performances from The Arctic Monkeys, Eminem and MGMT. Additional headliners included The Killers, Kendrick Lamar, Martin Garrix, ODESZA and more! Without a doubt, Firefly continues to be one of the East Coast’s largest music festival bringing together over 140 artists from across genres.  

Firefly started its legacy back in 2012 when Red Frog Events broke into the music festival industry by creating a unique East Coast musical experience, the first of its kind. At the time, besides Bonaroo, there was no other major festival to really compete with in the surrounding area. Red Frog Events saw potential and took advantage of the limited competition. In the inaugural year, they managed to book one of the biggest bands in 2012, The Black Keys, setting Firefly up to be one of the largest and most diverse music festival in the country. 

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Year in and year out, Firefly continues to bring fans back with their star-studded line ups, offering attendees with rare opportunities to see some of the world’s biggest artists. Past lineups have included names such as Paul McCartney, Blink 182, Snoop Dogg, Bob Dylan, Chance The Rapper, Kings of Leon, Tom Petty and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, just to name a few. This year was no different, with top musical performers from across genres, this brought in crowds of roughly 80,000 music lovers to The Woodlands of Delaware for the Firefly experience. 

This year, Firefly’s lineup was undeniably one of the best of the summer, featuring music for everyone to enjoy. Whether a rock/alternative fan, hip-hop fan, Electronic music fan; Firefly featured the top names from multiple genre to satisfy any music junkie. This year Firefly featured the last U.S. stop for Eminem in 2018, along with being the first live performance for The Arctic Monkeys, in four years.

With eight different stages spread out across The Woodlands, bands kept crowds entertained through the summer heat. During the four-day event musicians of all styles took to the stage. The weekend started with sets from some of the biggest names in rock, such as The Arctic Monkeys, Foster The People, Jimmy Eat World and Cold War Kids. Jimmy Eat World and Foster The People were the first bands to play the main stage before the night’s headliner, The Arctic Monkey’s, took to the stage overlooking an endless crowd of people. This set featured tracks of their recent album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, but also tapped into some of their more well-known older tracks. Lead singer, Alex Turner, kept the crowd engaged, and their preserved sound made for a performance unlike any other.

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Saturday continued with impressive performances from artists such as Eminem, The Killers, Martin Garrix, Lil Wayne, Portugal. The Man and more. Portugal. The Man, did two sets on Saturday, one of which was a DJ set at the Tree House Stage, which was buried in the woods towards the back of the venue, giving sets at the stage an intimate feeling. Other artists such as Foster The People, did late night DJ sets as well. This really added to the fan experience, considering you can’t see many DJ sets from your favorite alternative bands every day. While  unwinding in a hammock after spending the day in the sunshine.

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Some of Saturday’s best performances came from two of the most notable rappers of this generation, Lil Wayne and Eminem. Both performers stated during their sets that they have never seen crowds so large, Wayne even joking with fans about different signs and totems. Lil Wayne played nostalgic songs such as “Mrs. Officer” and “A Milli” along with interacting with the crowd, making sure everyone was having a good time. The Killers followed up Lil Wayne on the main stage. This kept many fans waiting in their same spot to hear favorites such as “When You Were Young” and “Somebody Told Me”. Even though there was a minor slip up by front man Brandon Flowers, the band smoothly recovered to bring an all electrifying performance that had fans singing along to classics until their closing song, “Mr. Brightside”.

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Eminem’s highly anticipated 11:15pm set was pushed back due to The Killers playing past their slot time. Eminem’s performance started, but not before a message stating that explosive noises would be incorporated into the performance. This coming after controversy at his previous Bonnaroo performance where fans left the stage due to gun sounds. This message soon cleared, and Em started his performance. He opened by commenting on the massive crowd size. Then he acknowledged the fact that Firefly was his last U.S. stop in 2018, so you could tell that even before his first song, it was going to be a special set. He brought out guests such as Skylar Grey and Royce Da 5’9 for songs like “Love The Way You Lie” and “Fast Lane”. Em kept it classic throughout the set. He closed the night with a chilling encore of “Lose Yourself” followed by a firework show. The night was capped off by the top-rated DJ in the world, Martin Garrix, who played out his most notable tracks along with some heavy-hitting remixes.

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The weekend was closed out by another diverse lineup on Sunday. The day started with bands such as MGMT and ALT-J playing favorites. MGMT kept the afternoon going with their smooth sounding classics such as “Kids” and “Time to Pretend”. 

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The Pavilion Stage featured a set from one of the youngest artists out, 19-year-old producer/DJ Whethan who had fans dancing to his future pop/dance style. Kendrick Lamar closed out the festival on the main stage where he delivered a fast-paced performance, and didn’t miss a single bar in any of his verses. Kendrick’s performance featured songs ranging from one of his first mixtapes Section.80 all the way up to one of his most recent project DAMN. The festival was officially closed out by one of the biggest duos in electronic music, ODESZA, who played hits off their most recent album A Moment Apart. The set featured a full drum-line to accompany the group on some tracks along with spot-on visuals, lights and fireworks, ending Firefly 2018 on a high note.

Overall, the Firefly experienced is very music intensive.  The lineups this festival continues to bring in is what keeps fans coming back. People flock to The Woodlands to see some of their favorite musicians, and Red Frogs Events has done a great job in the past with continuously bring fan-favorites to Delaware. However, this was the last year that Red Frog will be involved with the festival. Red Frogs remaining shares of the festival have been acquired by AEG, which puts on similar festivals such as Coachella and Hangout Festival. AEG is also known for putting on some of the largest events around the world. AEG, alongside Madison House Presents will now be in control of Firefly heading into 2019. Considering their involvement in the entertainment industry, it will be interesting to see what they have in-store for one of the largest festivals in the country! Stay up-to-date by following them @FireflyMusicFestival or visit them at fireflyfestival.com.