Road Trip!

Road Trip!

The Five Amigos at Firefly Fest.

I typed up a long post about the music at Firefly, and then somehow lost it. Oh, well–I’ll just pick up where I left off, with a section called Epiphany.

Sunday morning we woke late and started doing what they young folks refer to as “partying.” Everyone wanted to see The Head and The Heart; I was curious but hadn’t heard them before, so while my companions rushed out I remained behind to cook for the evening’s repast. I continued “partying” and grilling Filipino chicken skewers and rice. I stunk up the RV pretty good by grilling the skewers in bacon grease from breakfast.

I left the RV in a great mood. All weekend I’d been watching young people’s excitement as they arrived and heard music. They’d either squeal and dash off toward the stage, or start dancing/walking, or just pause and raise their hands and soak it all in. I remembered feeling that way, responding to music viscerally instead of intellectually, and after a couple days of the festival atmosphere I finally opened up during the long trek to the Firefly stage. I was mounting the low gradual rise from the woods and Backyard stage up toward my destination. I could hear some really gorgeous harmony singing, a repeated phrase playing over and over. The sun burst through the clouds for the first time all weekend as I crested the hill. People around me were stopping and dancing or raising their hands in glory. It was quite cinematic. I realized how tight I am, how closed off, how miserable I make myself with worry and doubt. I became light and ecstatic. I was supposed to look for my wife and friends on a blanket near the back of the crowd, but instead I walked straight up to the stage, mesmerized. I remained there for the entire set, joined by my wife later. The Head and the Heart have three lead singers who can really belt it out, and they obviously adore making gorgeous harmonies. Their songs often lack structure and tend to meander, but when you can sing and you show it off with three full-throated leads blended you don’t need structure at all.

That experience set the tone for the rest of the day. Mariachi el Bronx were fantastic and Cha and I danced and danced. The band were having so much fun and everyone in the crowd had their own private groove and the sun was beautiful and the temp was perfect. The singer kept talking about how great it was to perform at such a festival, and at one point The Head and the Heart stopped by to watch. The singer for Mariachi announced that they had special guests, and said “ladies and gentlemen, Crosby, Stills and Nash!”

We returned to the RV to party some more, and then I rushed over to see Death Cab, who put on a fantastic set full of glorious pulsing guitars. Ben Gibbard had a cold but his vocals were still enchanting. Then the Flaming Lips were totally silly with balloons, glitter, confetti, giant plastic hands with lasers shooting out of the palms, disco balls, girls in Swiss maid outfits, human-size hamster balls for crowdsurfing, microphone cams, covers of Pink Floyd and King Crimson–there didn’t seem to be much time for Lips songs in there. By the time the Black Keys came on I was pretty much done. We left after a few songs and another visit to the Dogfish Head brew tent.

Big finds: the Head and the Heart, Mayer Hawthorne, Polica, Mariachi el Bronx
Disappointments: Cake (yawned their way through a set), OK Go (my nephew warned me that they were OK Blow).

So at age 43 I finally caved and did a multi-day music fest. Glad to cross it off the bucket list–an overall positive experience. I commend the organizers on a well-run and entertaining event!

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