10 Acts to Catch at Firefly 2013

[Originally published on Virgin.com, June 2013]

This budding three-day festival in Delaware is already becoming the East Coast’s premiere alt-pop bastion. In only it’s second year, Firefly draws an impressive group of high-profile talent to its green forests, and here are ten acts we think you ought to catch.

10) HAIM

Most Firefly attendees will have experienced childhood in the 90s, so when HAIM takes the stage this weekend, their sound should elicit some warm and fuzzy feelings circa. The four ladies from LA will let their funky, easygoing buzz-pop wash over the Urban Outfitter-sporting crowds, and we don’t even mind the perfect match they’ll make.

9) Japandroids

Feeling a little synthed-out lately? We don’t blame you. For a dose of good old fashioned raw garage rock with a modern edge, be sure to catch Canadian duo Japandroids; with only a guitar, a set of drums and two vocalizers, you can’t get much farther from electronic overload.

8) Robert Delong

Drummer and electro-dance virtuoso Robert Delong put fans of a number of genres on notice with his introspective-yet-moveable ‘Global Concepts’ this year, a track that blends bongo drums, bass, synths and rock spirit. More where that came from, please!

7) Azealia Banks

If there’s one set that will remove you from your comfort zone at Firefly. it might be spunky, enigmatic rapper Azealia Banks’. Sassy only begins to describe her stage persona, and we have a feeling the racy, irreverent New York-themed ‘212’ will no doubt raise a sea of hands in salute to her bravado.

6) Ellie Goulding

Glitchy dance songstress Ellie Goulding, ex-girlfriend to Skrillex and darling of the EDM world for the last couple of years, will treat us to her plaintive bass ballads this weekend. We think the wistful ‘Anything Can Happen’ will be a great compliment to the festival’s green, woodsy backdrop.

5) Matt & Kim

If ever a band embodied the spirit of music festivals, it’s Matt & Kim. With Kim on drums and Matt on keys, the pair’s positive, high-energy pop will transform the Firefly crowd from stoic individuals into a participant community of joyous music-lovers. Just try not to smile.

4) Twenty One Pilots

Gathering buzz in the rap-rock world are Twenty One Pilots, two lads from Columbus, Ohio whose hit ‘Holding on to You’ is ascending Billboard’s Alternative chart. The pair has supported fun.Neon Trees and Walk The Moon on tour, and are set to make a name for themselves at Firefly with their high-impact prose and synth-driven hooks.

3) Passion Pit

Fans of Passion Pit who’ve never seen them live are in for a treat. The spritely pop-dance group’s pared-down set retains the energy of their albums but adds a rock edge, with live drums and vocalist Michael Angelakos‘ unfiltered high vocals. Even without their usual saccharine coating, Passion Pit will no doubt stimulate a dance party rivaling most EDM sets.

2) The Neighbourhood

Ladies, prepare to swoon. With slick, heavy-hitting production reminiscent of Lana Del Rey, Los Angeles boys The Neighbourhood will deliver their own sexy noire brand of R&B-tinged rock to the masses at Firefly. But make sure to arrive early – The Neighbourhood are only the second band to take the stage at the festival.

1) The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Think bad-ass rock stars are a thing of the past? Wrong, dear reader; Karen O is alive and well. Arguably one of the most charismatic, dynamic front women of our generation, Karen O will strut, kick and shriek her way through favorites like ‘Maps’ and ‘Gold Lion’, knowing her crowd’s attention is cemented. Unless you’re allergic to raw talent, there are no excuses for missing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set at Firefly.