Ryan Bowman

Firefly 2018 is officially in the books for the seventh year in the Woodlands at Dover International Speedway. This year boasted some of the best weather in the festival’s history, with the sun out all four days and the temperatures only bordering in the uncomfortably hot zone. Let’s take a look back on the awesome four day experience.

Top Acts of the Fest

**not in order, I’m too indecisive for that**

1. The Killers

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Credit: Alive Coverage

The band that got everyone through middle school killed it as the “pre-headliner” on the Main Stage Saturday night. Their set contained all of their hits, including “Somebody Told Me,” “When You Were Young,” “Spaceman,” “Smile like you Mean It,” and more. They brought up a fan, Brian, from West Chester, PA to play drums during “For Reasons Unknown;” he absolutely killed it and had the crowd chanting his name. Frontman Brandon Flowers engaged with the crowd quite a lot and kept the crowd entertained throughout the whole set. They finished off with their legendary crowd favorite, “Mr. Brightside,” which had all of the Woodlands singing and dancing along. The rock band from Vegas proved that they can still bring the energy to the Woodlands even though this was their third appearance.

2. Martin Garrix

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Credit: Alive Coverage

The 22 year old Dutch DJ returned to the Woodlands for the second time in flamboyant fashion with confetti, flames, and fireworks. I wasn’t sure how much energy people would have left after an extremely busy day Saturday with The Killers and Eminem, but to say the crowd brought the party would be an understatement. With bass drops almost every minute, the crowd wouldn’t stop bouncing and launching glow sticks. Garrix played a perfect mix of older, DJ-focused songs while mixing in some of his new EDM stuff like, “Scared to be Lonely,” and “In the Name of Love.” The energy and excitement was palpable throughout the entire set. and it was the perfect release to a long and busy day of music.

3. Odesza

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Credit: Alive Coverage

With no White Panda to close out the festival this year, Odesza was set to fill that void and boy did they deliver. The electronic duo have one of the best intros for any concert I’ve ever seen and it was on full display on the big stage. Beginning with a spacey display and the voice-over from the movie Another Earth, they had a flawless transition into “A Moment Apart.” It’s rare to see a crowd with shear joy on their faces during a set, but this was the scene throughout the entire performance. Whether it be jumping around and launching glow sticks during the drops, or closing your eyes and simply basking in the music, this was an incredible set to witness. I overheard a few groups of people who were tripping on acid and LSD and one of them was convinced he had been transported to another world, so if that’s any indication of how awesome a set is then there you go.

4. Alice Merton

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Credit: Alive Coverage

This was by far the surprise set of the weekend for me. I went over to hear their radio hits, “No Roots,” and “Lash Out,” and I was blown away by how good this band was. The Canadian-German singer displayed a wide range of vocals and kept the crowd engaged throughout their hour set on the Lawn Stage. She proved she is much more than one radio hit, bringing energy and passion to each song she sang, and the crowd certainly enjoyed it.

5. Arctic Monkeys

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Credit: Alive Coverage

You either loved or hated this set. If you went expecting to rock out and mosh to old alt-rock classics, you were probably disappointed. If you wanted to experience the new Alex Turner and his Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, you probably had a blast. There is no denying this is a different Arctic Monkeys than the ones who played in 2014, but whether that is for better or worse is up for debate. Their set made me like their new album even more and fully understand the evolution Alex Turner and the band had experienced. Side note, if you remember this SNL skit about the star gazer lounge, this new Arctic Monkeys is who I would imagine playing there. Nonetheless, they played a mix of old and new songs to keep the die-hard fans happy, and it was a great welcome back as this was their first American festival in over four years.

Notable Shout-outs 

I’m not a huge Eminem fan,but the people I talked to who love him said it was one of the best sets they’ve ever seen. Everyone should get the privilege to see the real Slim Shady rapping favorites like, “‘Till I Collapse,” “My Name Is,” and “Rap God,” at least once. It seems unfair to put Portugal. the Man on this list because they are Gods after all. The self-proclaimed best band in the history of the world rocked out for over an hour with guitar interludes and cheeky messages on the video board. Smallpools played three sets on Saturday and killed each one. In the Toyota Music Den, they played an acoustic set which included, “9 to 5,” and “Admission to Your Party,” both of which they haven’t played live since 2015. Their main set on the Backyard Stage was an energetic dance party which featured inflatable killer whales, a tambourine tossed from the crowd, and a name change to Smallbools (looking at you Ihob). Indie-synth band Courtship. made their first festival appearance ever with an early afternoon set at the Lawn Stage and had another set at the Treehouse later in the day.

Around the Festival

The great weather kept the grounds in pretty good condition throughout the entire weekend. The Thicket was as popular as always, especially during some less attended sets. It’s great watching other people in there when they’re listening to the other station because the dancing never makes sense to what you’re listening to. The Beercade made its return, but it was not nearly as big as it was in the past  The Brewery was completely air conditioned and filled with a variety of beers, and even had a record store to do some shopping.

I had to try the Mom’s Spaghetti food truck and was pretty impressed with the classic spaghetti and meatballs. The truck was pretty popular throughout the weekend with the obvious connection to Eminem. If the food wasn’t so expensive I would have loved to try more; I was only able to try a jerk chicken quesadilla from Key West Conch Shack, a burrito from Fat Bean Taco, and some chicken + fries from Tots and Tenders.

Brief points about other big acts

  • Logic was surprisingly underwhelming. A lot of fans were commented that Logic talked to the crowd too much about not being hype enough and that his set was too short… then proceeded to continue talking about it. While he was rapping, it was awesome, but it felt like a lot of time was wasted badgering the crowd.
  • Lil Wayne was surprisingly a good time. You couldn’t really understand much of what he was saying during the songs but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t lit as hell.
  • Kendrick Lamar was awesome, but he ended almost 20 minutes early. He started off with a bang but it seemed to get progressively less exciting as the show went on. Also, he definitely forgot he had been to Firefly before.
  • Alt-J was truly magical. I wish their set started a little later because their vibe and lighting setup would have been perfect for a nighttime set.
  • Big Gigantic was wild. I was too tired from the long day to rave, but it was still an awesome time sitting in the grass far away.

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Thank you Firefly 2018 for a great festival and we will see you in the Woodlands next year!

Check out the 2018 recap video below:

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