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Firefly Festival Day 1 Recap: Grizzly Bear Shimmer, Foxygen Dissolve + Chili Peppers Keep It Spicey

Firefly 2013
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Given the deluge of weekend summer music festivals jockeying for attention this year, picking the best may not be a question of who had the strongest lineup or biggest headliner, but who was able to treat fans the best. Having doubled in size since their inaugural run, the Firefly Music Festival, set in the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, may just end up running away with that prize, as they’re greeting this weekend’s 60,000 revelers with expanded grounds and amenities.

A mere three hours away from New York City, Firefly is aiming to cement itself as the Northeast festival destination. Thanks to impeccable design that leads to a constant crowd flow and easy-to-acquire vantage points, it’s beginning to look like the sold-out three day jaunt is on its way to achieving its goal. Here’s what went down yesterday (June 21) at day one of Firefly 2013.

Hammered Away From Home: The swirling hard-rock swell of North Wales trio the Joy Formidable boomed from the revamped Backyard Stage, as ‘Cholla’ and ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ reached ear-splitting volume. Whether they’re playing to one person or one hundred thousand, the band always brings it like they’re headlining Wembley Stadium. Their short 45-minute Firefly set ensured that their road-tested show would burn bright. Bonus points to Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan for adding to the ongoing joke of the festival and admitting that this is their first time playing in Delaware. It happens with a lot more artists then you’d think.

Some Destruction: It’s always a bit of a mixed bag of expectations when heading out to catch rising retro rockers Foxygen. Their spacey, psychedelic constructions are constantly evolving, and its impossible to take your eye off of Sam France, who is equal parts Jim Morrison, Karen O and space alien.

“I wish I could go back to my planet,” he shared midway through the bicoastal group’s Porch Stage performance.

But as is the case with Foxygen a noticeable percentage of the time, their erratic nature led to a crash and burn, albeit an extremely entertaining one, as their set ended a good 10 minutes before the schedule indicated. It will be interesting to see if this serves as a sustainable model of creating intrigue, or if will fans ultimately get frustrated with the band’s unpredictability.

Shields Under The Stars: Having attended Governors Ball and Bonnaroo the previous two weekends, we found it a nice change of pace to see Grizzly Bear perform after sunset. Their dynamic Purity Ring-style light show brought an exciting new dimension to their locked-down setlist and helped the harmonies shimmer and surprise listeners, as Edward Droste and Daniel Rossen were able to obscure themselves. By the time the opening piano pangs of ‘Two Weeks’ kicked in, Firefly had truly kicked off in earnest.

They’re Red Hot: Credit where credit is due to the veteran funk-rock superstars Red Hot Chili Peppers for delivering with a show that was anything but another stop on the road. Flea bounced with adrenaline frenzy and Anthony Kiedis kept his shirt on for a remarkable amount of time as the Chilis packed in the hits and kept material from their latest, ‘I’m With You,’ to an admirable minimum. They dropped regular set opener ‘Monarchy of Roses’ in favor of the rollicking ‘All Around the World,’ and Kiedis contributed an energy not seen at other festival stops, offering a brief nod to the protests ongoing in Brazil.

As ‘Give It Away’ closed the first day of Firefly 2013, party people headed out for the festival’s first-ever late-night sets. Yet another new wrinkle in the developing Firefly brand.

See Our 2013 Music Festival Guide

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