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Firefly Festival Day 3 Recap: Foster the People Prove Arena-Ready, Vampire Weekend Offer Shot of Adrenaline + More

Foster the People Firefly 2013
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

As the curtain began to fall on the second annual Firefly Music Festival, so too did the weekend’s first bits of rain, breaking up the humidity and gorgeous blue skies that’d hung perfectly in line with the lush green landscapes all weekend. There’s a fine line between fun, faux-Woodstock festival droplets and the run-for-cover downfalls that ultimately lead to set cancellations and post-fest trips to the shoe store. Fortunately, Sunday’s rain remained light, and it proved a nice refresher during Matt & Kim’s raunchy house party of a set. As the clouds parted and the beautiful backdrops returned, it seemed as though Firefly could do no wrong in 2013. Here’s how the “truly great East Coast festival,” as Vampire Weekend‘s Ezra Koenig put it, wrapped up.

Impassioned Pit: Poor Michael Angelakos, and poor Delaware! The two just can’t seem to get together for a proper Passion Pit show. After being forced to cancel — at the last minute — their appearance at last year’s Firefly, the Madison Square Garden-vanquishing pop-rockers were poised to right all wrongs with their Main Stage set on Sunday. The field was mobbed with people, and things couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, as Angelakos and crew ripped through ‘I’ll Be Alright’ and ‘The Reeling’ with boundless energy and precision. Then things began to deteriorate.

“I just can’t catch a break at this festival,” Angelakos said midway through the set. “I’ve got crazy f—ing allergies, and I just lost my voice. I need you all to sing as loud as you can.”

To his credit, Angelakos seemed willing to blow his vocal chords out as far as they would go as he really, really tried to hit the high notes on ‘Little Secrets.’ But the combination of fans not singing along loud enough and his completely shot voice resulted in a shortened performance. Putting on a brave face — and an American flag taken from the audience — Angelakos had no earthly shot at working through ‘Sleepyhead,’ but he nevertheless had the band deliver the instrumental backing as he feverishly worked the catwalk and tried to get fans to sing along. In fairness to the crowd, those are some pretty high-pitched lyrics to decipher and memorize. Here’s hoping Passion Pit returns to Delaware for a climate-controlled performance soon.

Vampire Sunday: Depending on who you asked or how you viewed the order of the lineup, Vampire Weekend were Firefly 2013′s third headliner, and taking the stage at sunset, they were given enough time for a full set. Singer/suitarist Ezra Koenig took stock several times of the scenery and delighted in sharing the experience with his East Coast brethren. Like a less trippy version of the backdrop MGMT unfurled the night before, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires Of the City stage design featured flowery patterns and a magic orb in the middle that changed shape throughout the set. This, of course, lent itself perfectly to the wooded festival’s atmosphere.

A recurring joke, said throughout the day by numerous fans, was, “I give a f— about an ‘Oxford Comma,’” and to say audience members gave a you-know-what about Vampire Weekend’s masterful show would be an understatement. Hits like ‘A-Punk,’ ‘Holiday’ and yes, ‘Oxford Comma,’ had tired legs moving and shaking with one last charge of adrenaline.

Fostering Hope For The Future: The people behind booking Firefly seem to really understand the importance of exclusivity when putting together their lineups. Last year, they managed to snag the Killers for what turned out to be their lone major U.S. festival appearance of 2012. Although they haven’t quite achieved that Vegas crew’s level of success, Foster the People came out on Sunday night for a showcase of what to expect when they unleash their sophomore effort.

No matter what the record sounds like, it’s a safe bet these guys will be playing arenas. Foster the People have clearly looked at the Black Keys and Passion Pits of the world and thought, “Why not us?” Why not indeed, as they have enjoyed consistent radio airplay and support from large media outlets — all on the strength of one album.

A huge, arena-ready light show heralded their arrival along with the disjointed opening kicks of ‘Houdini’ as hundreds of young adults came running back from the parking lot, we’re they’d presumably pre-gamed through Vampire Weekend. The massive triangular lights changed with the mood of the show and cast singer Mark Foster and the rest of the band in that weird grayscale light that seems to be all the rage among contemporary festival headliners like Kings of Leon and those Black Keys.

Bolstered by Main Stage sound, Foster the People brought a thunderous shot of power to their material — more so than they did on at 2012 festival stops. When it was announced they’d perform in their own times slot, with no competing acts, it may have seemed strange, but it was a genius bit of scheduling. Foster the People took full advantage of the audio and visual tools at their disposal, even as older attendees dreading Monday morning’s alarm clock headed for the gates.

With Firefly 2013 in the books, it would appear that the three-day Dover fest has succeeded for the second consecutive year in expanding its brand, reach and scope and giving fans stories to tell their jealous non-attending friends all summer. Without seeing the lineup for 2014, we’re predicting it sells out faster than this year, purely because of word-of-mouth.

See Our 2013 Music Festival Guide

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