The theme of this year’s Firefly recap is going to be “change.” With new ownership and word spreading about tons of additions and upgrades to the site (permanent showers and a waterslide just to name a couple), we were all super excited to check out the grounds.
This year was my second in a row camping (ok…glamping) and I felt like I was much more prepared this time around. Originally, I had planned to arrive around noon Thursday to make sure our group was all settled in together. But when Thursday turned out to be a super hot day and because I was slow getting moving – I ended up holding off on going in until the late afternoon. I followed the directions on the brochure that came with my tickets and headed in. Despite reports of long waits at Will Call, I was in and out of there within minutes earlier in the day. Checking into glamping was equally stress free. Major props to the staff who worked to seamlessly accommodate our trio into adjacent tents and to move me just across the way when my zipper broke. Due to the glut of rain we have had in the area recently, grass had grown a little and bug spray, and wipes, and little things like incense my camping neighbors gave me were an absolute necessity. We were able to clear them out by opening up the tent doors and using fans. Once that was done, the bugs were basically a non-issue and the tents stayed surprisingly cool all weekend. Much improved over the stuffy mornings I had last year.
In a fun twist of fate, I also had the same neighbors as last year – so that was such a cool little thing to happen. Anyway, we were more prepared this year with a camp stove, an EZ up shelter, and plenty of supplies. Once things were a little bit set up, I made the walk over the bridge to check things out in the South Hub.
There have always been hubs on both sides of the festival, but they have definitely been upgraded and improved. One of the major upgrades is that both hubs now feature much bigger stages and a pre-party environment. There are booths with food, activities, and a big general store to buy camping supplies as well. I picked up batteries, bug spray and a tiny container of propane for our stove before making the very short walk to the stage. There were a handful of performances on the stage on Thursday night, as well as each morning before the festival.
If the performance I saw Thursday from Saint Motel was any indication – the festival’s change from 4 days to 3 did not mean that there was less awesome music going on. Saint Motel put on a fun and energetic show (they were one of my favorites from year’s past). I had my first real “close your eyes and feel like you are in your happy place moment” while they were playing Puzzle Pieces. I bumped into a few people I knew, scoped out the available food and then headed back to the tents.
Luckily, I made that move just in time because it started to pour and thunder shortly after I returned. The lovely ladies at Lot 12 made sure we were all safely in our cars and I rode out the storm there, in my air conditioning – eating chips and listening to a Harry Potter Podcast. Tip: fill your car up so you don’t have to worry about running out of gas if you need to hang in your car during a storm, or use it to charge phones etc.
After the first round of storms passed, things opened back up and my first batch of camping buddies arrived. We shared a quick drink, before they headed over to the North Hub by shuttle to visit the rest of our crew camping on the other side of the festival. I headed back to the South Hub to meet a friend. Shortly after they left, a new wave of storms came in, sending me scurrying back to my car for a bit longer. I had just started contemplating sleeping in the car (and googling how long my gas would last) when the rain stopped and I used the opportunity and the now much cooler air to head to bed.
Friday – Day 1
It stayed cool all night and when I settled myself down was able to get some good sleep. I’m also pretty sure that my inability to settle down was due at least in part to being super excited about all the fun the next day would bring (and all the friends who would be arriving to camp the next morning).
By 9 or 10 our three campsites were full of the friends we had been waiting for – and we were in the process of figuring out how to light our camp stove. Once we had made fire (in stove form – no open flames!) we put our breakfast burritos on to heat up and caught up after a long time apart. Tip: make some hearty food in advance, that only needs to be heated up. Check out our upcoming post on festival camping recipes for breakfast burritos and more.
Around noon or so, it was time to start getting ready to go inside. I had planned to make it in time for gates opening, but campsite food and fun delayed that a bit.
One of my favorite things about Firefly is sharing the experience with new people. In this case, my Super VIP buddy for the weekend – Jill – was a Firefly veteran, but new to the world of golf cart rides and swag. We headed in early to give her the grand tour – swag bag, open bar, and first golf cart ride done. We parted ways to catch music
Side note here: I have to say that this was probably one of my favorite parts of the weekend. By that I mean, seeing Jill experience the awesomeness that is the super vip festival experience. Especially the part where she got the swag bag and literally had to sit down on the ground to exclaim over each item. Seriously – I loved the experience myself but it is so much fun to see someone else experience it for the first time.
Tangent over – I headed over to catch a couple sets: Dennis Lloyd and Soja. Both fantastic.
Then headed back over to the main stage to take some pictures at TLC and to wait for the thumbs up that it was time to head to the thicket.
My husband, DJ Phamous, had scored the opportunity to perform two sets in the silent disco (The Thicket) at the festival this year. It’s hard to say who was more nervous between the two of us, especially after we found out his first set would have him sharing the silent disco with Emo Nite. He sent me the thumbs up that he was up and running and I tore myself away from TLC to support him and dance my ass off for an hour. The silent disco is a blast – even when you don’t know the DJ. And we scream sung, danced, and subtly made fun of the emo people (yes I’m that petty when it comes to my husband. I am so proud of him. Not only was his music fantastic, but he stuck to himself and didn’t get discouraged when the Emo Nite folks had pretty much taken over the whole area in front of the DJ booth.
Following our time in the Thicket (shoutout to all the friends who came out to support Minh and dance with us) I headed out to get a drink and recuperate. My first Firefly 2019 food experience was a cheeseburger biscuit. A little different than last year but delicious in its own right. Then it was back to the bar for a tropical Redbull and Vodka. Drink of choice for the weekend.
We had several rounds of friends show up from DC and Northern Delaware throughout the afternoon – but also managed to catch a ton of music, including: Evan Giia at the Treehouse, Sir Sly, Bob Moses, X Ambassadors and Panic at the Disco. I am disappointed in myself for crashing before Zedd – but was able to squeeze in a quick campground shower before the rush and head to bed for a pretty good night of sleep.
Saturday – Day 2
Campground wise, Saturday was very similar to Friday. We cooked some breakfast burritos, hung around catching up and playing games and just generally enjoying each other’s company. When most of my camping crew headed for the shuttle to the North Campground – I got ready to head in for music. This was a packed music day for me, with a bunch of my favorites on the schedule. I spent a lot of time at the smaller stages and a lot less time being bougie in Super VIP. I got to see, Tank and the Bangas, Flora Cash, Half Alive, Hippo Campus, Mansionair and a little bit of Travis Scott.
The new Hideaway stage brought some of my favorite sets of the weekend. Hippo Campus who had a packed and energetic set and Mansionair put on an amazing show.
I can’t remember much from Saturday, that wasn’t music related. I feel like I spent most of my day exploring a little and then bouncing between the smaller stages. The only downside of your 30s is that all that walking gets you tired early. I headed back to the campground before Travis Scott ended to shower and start packing up.
Sunday – Day 3
Early Sunday morning, I headed the 20 minutes to get home. It was sad to leave my campground buddies behind a little early, but I wanted the opportunity to spend some time with the guests at our house and to take a long shower.
As it was the last day of the festival, I took a locals only tip and parked at a place on one of the back roads and one of the home owners in the area gave me a ride near the gate. This was absolute perfection, because I could just scoot back out on the back road on the way out and get home super quickly. That said, none of my friends who drove in every day reported having any issues with the official parking or shuttle services and these back road parking spots won’t work if you aren’t headed out locally.
I made it in just in time to catch a golf cart over to the main stage and up onto the viewing platform for lovelytheband. Another band on my list of must-sees for the weekend.I have seen them a couple times – but their set was still awesome and included a fun new addition of a cover of The Killers Mr. Brightside. Name a better song to scream sign at a festival, I dare you.
After lovelytheband, I spent most of the day bouncing back and forth between shows at The Lawn and the new Prism stage. I caught great sets from Jessie Reyez, Yungblood, AJR, Walk the Moon, and a little bit of Jukebox the Ghost.
In between sets, I spent some time exploring the food options and visiting the merch tents to grab some fun stuff. It was hot Sunday, and just as I hit a wall energy wise, I stumbled upon a stand selling bubble tea (holy moly!!!) and picked up some nachos next door.
Firefly is my home festival, so I wanted to take time to enjoy it while also taking advantage of the opportunity to take pictures and provide coverage. I spent a peaceful few minutes sitting in front of one of the stages with my camera – enjoying the quiet and the camaraderie with some of the security people on that last day.
All of my friends headed out around 10, and I took that opportunity to walk around and enjoy just a few minutes saying goodbye. I also bought a fresh gyro sandwich from a stand near the entrance (probably the best thing I ate all weekend). I still didn’t quite feel ready to say goodbye, so I headed over to The Roost for The Great Bingo Revival. It was such a fun little end to my festival experience. With music, dancers, corny jokes and plenty of bingo cards – this activity is one I hope to see in years to come.
After that, I headed out to catch a ride to my car and head home from the festival for one final time. Normally, leaving Firefly makes me cry – I felt just as much love this year, but I had a new treat to look forward to at home – the first opportunity to review and edit the pictures I had taken over the weekend. Almost like a time capsule just waiting for me.
Overall, I think that the changes made to the festival were good and made a lot of sense. Someone on line explained it better than I could when they talked about the positioning of the stages and new experiences. I felt like the improvements to the stages and sound equipment were also really awesome. The Prism looked awesome and made it possible for more people to be positioned for sets than they had been with the previous pavilion stage. I felt like there were also some subtle improvements in how things ran and to the attention to detail. For example, when my tent zipper broke, a crew with Coachella shirts showed up to fix things right away. There were introductory emails and instructions for Super VIPs and they had awesome swag waiting for us every day. Small touches to, like limiting the ability to access certain areas during the evening – prevented a lot of the overcrowding that the Super VIP areas and VIP areas have seen from “guest pass” holders in the past.
I had a moment, walking through the festival with my camera, my hat attached by a carabineer and a cool drink in my hand – I felt like I owned the place, like I belonged here, like I was full of confidence and happiness – that I sometimes miss throughout the year. I had a great time and I was so sad when the weekend came to an end. I absolutely can’t wait until next year! Seriously!! Look at this beautiful blue sky – how could you miss out on this!
We would love to hear about your Firefly experiences, so share them with us in the comments or online. And look out later this week for another Firefly recap from a first timer!!