I’ve never been much of a camper, so the idea of Firefly Festival was something I’d skip year after year, but when I saw this year’s lineup featuring Halsey, My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and Dua Lipa as their headliners, I knew I had to take the plunge. I still didn’t camp (I know, I know), but after walking through the campsites every day and talking with other attendees, I understand the hype now. This is a festival everyone should experience.
Day 1 for us kicked off with a stop at The Nest, a literal DJ booth treehouse covered in LEDs and surrounded by hanging glowing honeycomb, to watch a few minutes of Speaker Honey while we got our bearings. It immediately felt like we stepped into another world. The grounds of Firefly are massive, with two entry points on either side and 5 stages, countless activations, art installations, bars, and food. In the center sits a space called The Bazaar that features local businesses and artists in a flea market type setting, selling goods all day and night. We stopped by The Pavillion stage, home to a majority of electronic artists for the weekend, to catch 100 gecs play a killer set and then settled in for Halsey, who put on a Saturday night show on a Thursday. Firefly brought stadium level production to the middle of the woods and Halsey was no exception. Her visuals, pyro, and general talent blew the crowd away. Her set finished with a powerful fireworks display, perfectly mirroring her focus on empowerment and feminism during the set.
The next morning, we set off for day 2, starting with Mod Sun rocking out and paying homage to his incredible fiancé, Avril Lavigne, by playing their duet “Flames” and giving her a shout out. She later hit the same stage and they performed the song together in a massive act of punk rock love. We caught sets from Dayglow, Gus Dapperton, Cold War Kids (a personal fave), Ashnikko, Avril Lavigne, Weezer, and of course My Chemical Romance. I’ve previously dumped my thoughts and feelings about MCR, but to sum it up, they’re the best. I haven’t ever had the opportunity to see them in General Admission, and the emo kid joy that Firefly radiated that night was everything I could’ve ever wanted out of the experience. The crowd erupted for the hits, but I think the biggest impact came when they played “Mama.” From the back of the crowd where people set up hammocks, to right up against the barricade, every fan was part of The Black Parade, singing and dancing like nobody else was there.
Day 3 started with Sueco, who brought a heavier energy ahead of Green Day’s headline performance. One of the most consistent takeaways we had each night was how positive and happy everyone was. I’ve been to countless shows and festivals and have never felt a larger sense of community than what was in the air at Firefly. Everyone was there simply to have a good time and make sure others were having one too. The closest thing I can compare it to would be the beginning of summer camp; everyone was abuzz and ready to have fun, whether they knew the music or not. To see an artist like Sueco, who tends to lean into a metal space, be thoroughly enjoyed by people who were there for an EDM artist was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was pure, unbridled appreciation for music in all it’s forms. We saw performances from Matt Maeson, Princess Nokia, Yungblud, The Head and The Heart, Bleachers, Haim, and of course, Green Day. Green Day is one of my favorite bands, so I’m admitting to some bias, but they know how to put on a show. They kicked the door down on the performance by opening with “American Idiot” directly into “Holiday,” leading everyone in their usual “ayo” chants throughout the set. There’s nothing more unifying than signing along to “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” with thousands of strangers as confetti falls from the sky, it was something truly magical.
Though Day 4 saw some rain delays, we still enjoyed music from Magic City Hippies, Whipped Cream, Saint JHN, Conan Gray, The Kid Laroi, Charli XCX, and the iconic Dua Lipa. If every other headliner brought stadium level production, Dua Lipa brought award show level production. We were lucky enough to watch her from pretty close to the stage, and I can’t say enough good things. She had a full band, backup singers, and a flock of dancers that gave it absolutely everything they had on a Sunday night. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime show. Day 4 also featured an incredible pride parade lead by Jasmine Kenndie, Luxx Noir London, Robin Fierce, Marilyn Monhoe, & Aloe Vera!
Overall, Firefly was easily one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to. The sense of community, appreciation, and kindness to each person and artist was palpable. In the first emails we received about the fest, they said it was “beloved”, and I completely see why. If you have the opportunity to go in future years, take it, and treat people with kindness as you go. Check out the gallery of highlights below!