The moderate-to-strong winds that brushed across the Firefly campgrounds early Sunday morning felt more like a comforting breeze—after Tropical Storm Bill paid a long and torrential overnight visit to Dover.
Moments before Saturday headliners Kings of Leon were set to take the stage for their 9:45 p.m. slot, festival organizers began covering equipment in plastic tarps. Minutes later, some 90,000 fans were evacuated from the grounds—sending thousands of staggering fans back toward the exits, or to batten down the hatches in tents and campsites and cars.
Between the downpour, tornado-grade winds, the sirens and the screams—the storm triggered palpable waves of panic and confusion among Firefly campers. Just before midnight, a text alert from Firefly’s mobile app urged those camping around Dover International Speedway to take down their tents and canopies, putting many into the precarious position of hoisting metal poles into the air during intense blasts of sheet lightning.
Still, plenty summoned the fortitude to keep the party ranging through the mud and the wee hours of the night. Karaoke, mud wrestling and stiff drinks helped ease the storm’s passage.
By Sunday, the Kings of Leon had announced they could not reschedule their performance, however fellow Saturday rainouts Steve Aoki and the Chainsmokers were folded into a revamped Sunday schedule.
Austin alt-rockers Spoon, and spastic power-pop duo Matt & Kim were among Saturday’s highlights. Cleveland rapper Kid Cudi managed to squeeze about 30 minutes out of his 9:30 set, before fans were shepherded out. Cudi apologized, and raised a defiant fist against Mother Nature.