Firefly Festival, Friday, June 16

Dover, DE rocks

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The behemoth festival that dwarfs not only the capital city of Dover, Delaware (pop. 37,000), but most other festivals as well, settled in with headliners 21 Pilots, Bob Dylan, Weezer, the Weekend, the Shins and Busta Rhymes, among about 150 others. Firefly seems to be in a head-to-head with Coachella, since several bands have specifically mentioned that they prefer Firefly to Coachella, but in my cynical heart, I’m guessing someone in management planted that seed as a cross-promotional tactic, since both Firefly and Coachella festivals are mounted by Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of AEG Live.

It took most of the day to locate the new additions and old favorites. I found mostly old favorites, including interesting art installations and one, “Eye of Firefly,” in the making.

Of the bands whom I didn’t know, Kiangstof, at the Treehouse Stage, stood out, with solid rock and strong songs, and a good connection with the audience.

On the huge Lawn Stage, OK Go drew a surprisingly small initial crowd, but frontman Damian Kulash sure knows how to get an audience on the band’s side. Early on, he stated that the band had played for the very first Firefly and that it remains their favorite festival (“best run, best lineup”). After one or two songs featuring a kickdrum designed for body pulses or puncturing the eardrums, Kulash announced a “get to know you” session, and took questions from the audience.

Looking like a group of freshman in a helluva good band, their ”You’re So Damned Hot,” underscored the strengths and weaknesses of the band: What OK Go lacks in virtuosity and finesse, they more than make up for in earnest effort, and confetti. Lots and lots of confetti.

Weezer’s music is as eclectic and diverse as the members, who, if I didn’t know better, might have been assembled by a boyband creator; you have the nerd (Rivers Cuomo, vocals/guitar), the soccer dad, (Patrick Wilson, drums) the (pick one) ’70s, ’80s or ’90s heartthrob guitarist (Brian Bell, guitar), and the hip arty guy who probably runs a con (Scott Shriner, bass). They played hits old and new (“Hash Pipe,” “My Name is Jonas” to a dedicated audience ranging from 16 to 70-plus.

Weezer’s “take us as we are” attitude is pervasive not only in their lyrics, but in Weezer’s performance. On King Of The World,” from the latest record (2016), Cuomo sang in a royal cape and gold crown worthy of junior high Halloween. As they sing in “Pork And Beans,” “I’ma do the things that I wanna do/I ain’t got a thing to prove to you…/I don’t give a hoot about what you think,”Weezer does what they want, what they do best, and–happily–what pleases major crowds like Firefly.

–Suzanne Cadgène

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