Firefly Music Festival has always been a bit of an outlier in the festival landscape. Alongside major destination events like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella, and ACL Festival, it’s among the biggest and best music festivals of the year. It almost requires camping, unlike a city fest that attracts more casual fans, but it’s accessible enough that it is still pretty mainstream.
This year, in its tenth edition, Firefly took place in September for the second year in a row. Cooler fall temperatures offered a respite from the brutal summer heat festival-goers had to weather when the festival was held in June. Even if the threat of severe weather put a bit of a damper on Sunday’s festivities, the festival reclaimed its spot in the top echelon with a stellar 2022 lineup (if still a bit of a step back from last year) and a high-energy weekend at every turn.
Thursday kicked off with TikTok star Gayle getting the crowd going with her viral hit, “abcdefu”. Don’t let “TikTok star” confuse you, Gayle is legit with killer songwriting and an impressive live show that doesn’t feel too far from that of Girl in Red. Sets from Neil Francis and Willow Smith kept the energy up for Jungle, who had the crowd bouncing from start to finish. The pair was a perfect pre-headliner set, with groovy dance tunes the audience couldn’t resist. Halsey put a cap on the night with an epic set that proved she was worthy of the top billing.
Friday didn’t take the foot off the gas. Early sets from Norweigan indie pop singer Anna of The North, Gus Dapperton, and alt-pop hit Dayglow kept vibes high. Keep an eye out for Anna of The North specifically to finally break through to more mainstream success in the U.S. over the next year. By the time Avril Lavigne took the stage, the densely packed crowd was as amped up as could be as she celebrated the 20-year anniversary of her debut album. Even she, however, was no match for My Chemical Romance, whose fans had camped several rows deep all day. Fans shed tears and sang along to every word. It would be a hard set to top, but fans who attended Saturday night were treated to something just as epic to match.
The day started early with Lavigne and MGK’s best friend Jagwar Twin. The pop-punk singer had the early crowd engaged from the very start and didn’t stop bouncing around the stage. Sets from up and comers like Seb, Jordana, and Matt Maeson gave fans a promising taste of the future of indie and alternative music before Wolf Alice and Yungblud took over and really rocked out. The two sets felt like the festival was launched on a rocket to the moon with the pure raw emotion they each brought.
Bleachers and HAIM played back-to-back sets around sundown. Jack Antonoff’s nostalgic New Jersey porn (in the best way) felt cathartic while the Haim sisters put on an impressive exhibition for their last U.S. show of the year.
Then Green Day happened. It was a show at such a scale and with so many hits that it was without a doubt the climax of the entire weekend. Green Day isn’t a legacy act doing the rounds; the band is still a top-tier headliner.
Sunday was the only day that had any sort of hiccups. Flor’s dream pop sound gave way to a funky, beachy set from Miami outfit Magic City Hippies. Fans had their dance shoes on and MAX didn’t let them take it off. While Saint Jhn was starting his set, the threat of severe weather forced fans to evacuate for about two hours. The storm stayed clear of the festival, however, and gates reopened for sets from T-Pain and Manchester Orchestra.
While most fans opted for Charli XCX, Alabama natives The Brook and The Bluff took to the Treehouse Stage and treated fans to a ripping set capped off with their hit “Doobie Bronson” as the guys passed around a joint gifted by a fan.
Dua Lipa wrapped up the weekend with a fine-tuned performance on her Future Nostalgia tour. Everyone knows her hits, but not everyone realizes just how many hits she has. The pop star showed Delaware just why her world tour is a can’t-miss show.
As her colorful confetti rained down, it felt like everyone who attended the festival was in on this secret together. Firefly has created one of the absolute best environments of any festival. The layout, the relentless positivity, and the fact that it’s just a little off the beaten path make it a destination worthy of the trip.