The sights, sounds and smells of Firefly were all amplified this year. The festival added more bands, more people and more acreage to the growing phenomenon—which meant more red-faced, sun-drenched, stumbling bodies; more thumps of bass in the distance and “Hello, Delaware!” shouts from the stages; and more scents of sunburn, fried food and a special glazed-ham funk that accompanies someone who hasn’t bathed in four days.
When it was all over, Firefly, and its enormous economic haul for Delaware, left another incredible party in its wake as well as an exhausted group of 80,000 who witnessed it. Here are some of our favorite highlights.
Best Performance: OutKast
While White Panda brought out the glow sticks and the Foo Fighters brought down the house, OutKast hooked the crowd this weekend. The hip-hop pair emerged from a long hiatus for a string of festival tour dates this summer, and on Saturday night, the sight of Andre 3000 and Big Boi on stage together in Dover had a surreal feel. Backed by a horn section, backup singers and the silky pipes of longtime collaborator Sleepy Brown, the rappers ripped through the highlights of their 20-year catalog, starting the night with “B.O.B (Bombs Over Baghdad)”and hitting favorites like “Rosa Parks,” “Hootie Hoo” and “So Fresh, So Clean.” Booties shook. The earth stood still.
Runners up: The Foo Fighters, A-Trak, Sleigh Bells
Best Oasis: Dogfish Head Tent
Between FIFA World Cup soccer streaming on a dozen TVs, air conditioning and copious amounts of fresh craft beer, the Dogfish Head tent (simply boiled down to “The Brewery”) was a joyous slice of heaven in the hot and dusty Woodlands. Volunteers passed out green John Deere-inspired sweatbands to a lucky few, while the rest settled for cold swigs of Festina Peche, Namaste, 60-Minute IPA and the nouveau classic Firefly Ale.
Best de rigueur Festival Fashion Accessory: Captain Hats
Taking fashion cues from Hugh Heffner (or maybe Captain & Tennille), the young partying masses at Firefly apparently settled on captain hats as this year’s go-to headwear accessory (replacing the ubiquitous and creepy rubber horsehead masks of 2013). Ahoy, mateys, we guess.
Best Crowd Marker: Cardboard Celebrity Heads
Need to spot your friends in a crowd? Head toward Nicolas Cage and make a sharp left at Morgan Freeman. Firefliers’ hilarious if inelegant solution to crowd identification involved toting around enormous cardboard cutouts of celebrity faces. Who needs GPS or cellphones when there’s John Stamos bringing you together.
Best Nap Spot: Hammock Hangout
After a few showerless days of sleeping in the dirt and waking up with the summer sun, swinging in the breeze on a hammock feels like the balm of Gilead. Peace, shade and a power nap can work miracles.
Best Celebrity Sighting: Shaun White
The Flying Tomato traded in his snowboard for a guitar after this year’s Winter Olympics. His new band Bad Things played the Backyard Stage on Saturday afternoon and canoodled with fans in VIP areas.
Best Hangover Cure: Cease and Desist Fries from Doc Magrogan’s
Philly’s Chickie & Pete’s may own the trademark to “crab fries,” but Doc Magrogan’s came up with a better name and a better recipe. An addictive meld of Old Bay, sweet crab meat and creamy cheese fondue, these fries were the perfect solution to mid-day refueling and day-after hangover ills.
Best News: Firefly 2015
Mark it down, folks. Firefly 2015 will be Thursday, June 18, through Sunday, June 21. Pre-sale tickets will go on sale Wednesday.