Firefly: The Killers wrap Day 2 with fireworks
Posted July 22, 2012
To the thousands of fans who flocked to Firefly Music Festival and waited for The Killers to come on stage about 30 minutes late, the group's performance was, in a word, awesome.
Bombastic rock that has come to define the Las Vegas-based band flowed seamlessly from opener Somebody Told Me to classics like Mr. Brightside. Complete with pyrotechnics, The Killers rounded out a Saturday filled with rock, pop and hip-hop.
They couldn't have imagined this reception: Fellow Vegas natives Imagine Dragons, who opened Day 2 with songs like Imagine, were excited to see Grouplove. They embraced comparisons with The Killers — both have big, emotional tunes.
Lead singer Dan Reynolds has something else to be excited about: a baby arriving in about a month. "I have eight brothers and now my wife (Aja Volkman, lead singer of Nico Vega) is having a girl. So I don't know what expect."
Nearby, guitarist Wayne Sermon's parents watched. "Most parents would not approve of their kid starting a rock band, but my parents said, 'You should get into music and go for it.' " Reynolds' parents are so supportive that they send the band's demos to his dad for feedback. (The band's new album, Night Visions, is out Sept 4.) "I hope to be half of what my dad wants me to be," he says.
Lots of love for Grouplove: Every festival there's a breakout band, and of the 40-plus bands playing here, it was hands-down Grouplove. Each band interviewed gave the group glowing reviews, and the crowd enthusiastically sang along to just about every song, including Colours, Slow and Tongue-Tied.
Grouplove wasn't aware of its lofty status, but the bandmates were open about their group love for Jack White. "Missed Jack White last night because we got here today, but we really just wanted to sit next to him for lunch," says vocalist Hannah Hooper.
"That would have been an awkward video, though," says drummer Ryan Rabin. "I would've been starstruck."
The quintet, who met at an artist commune in Greece, admits that they get cabin fever and sometimes crave alone time. "If we want to get away from each other, we usually go behind our curtains (in their bunk beds on the bus) and cry," jokes guitarist Andrew Wessen. "I miss bathrooms," says Hooper, who is dating blue-haired lead singer Christian Zucconi.
With the end of the tour in sight, the band will make stops Japan and Hawaii before heading back into the studio in 2013. "We've never been to Japan and we're looking forward to Hawaii as a little vacation," says Rabin.
An abundance of Young fans: Young the Giant attracted a massive crowd for its set on Firefly's main stage. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia shone with his creamy, rich vocals. "This is one of our last shows and then we're going back to the studio," says Gadhia. "I'm tired. But it's always fun to play festivals — it's very rejuvenating."
Having just wrapped up a video shout-out for VH1, E! and Access Hollywood, Gadhia admits he's not that comfortable in the spotlight. "We're not best first-impression band — we're mellow, soft-spoken and socially awkward," he says. "It's only onstage that we shed all of that."
Of the band's next album, "it's about a third of the way through the writing process," he says. "The first record, we recorded when we were like 17, and now we're older, just by a little (he's 23) and we've experienced so much now."
Since the band is relatively new to success, Gadhia was happy to give props to a couple of other bands. "Of course, Grouplove is amazing … Ra Ra Riot has been around for a long time and they deserve so much more recognition than they get."
Success comes Knocking: Another under-the-radar act that's attracting a growing following is New York dance duo The Knocks. "We got our name from living in our tiny apartment on Avenue C," says James Patterson, aka JPatt. "We had paper-thin walls and we'd each be recording beats in our rooms, and periodically an angry neighbor would knock on the walls. So we'd go into each other's rooms to mix and say, 'I just got the knocks.' "
Posting a piece of Cake: At festivals, fans snapping photos and posting on Facebook and Twitter while the band plays is as common as foot blisters. But Cake frontman John McCrea would have none of it. "This doesn't have to be an acquisitional experience all the time," the sardonic singer told the crowd during the band's afternoon set. "Even if you forget to post this to Facebook, this is real."
Cake's feel-good jams accented with trumpet and McCrea's ever-present vibraslap created an instant party with singalongs for nearly the whole hour, including Frank Sinatra, Short Skirt, Long Jacket and a killer closer, The Distance, which the band squeezed in, promising that they would "play it real fast."
Even with the crowd whipped up, McCrea took time out to address the movie theater shooting earlier this week at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
"I just want to say out thoughts are with the people in Colorado," McCrea said. "We all feel it because we're all connected somehow."
A dose of good-time soul: It was impossible not to smile during Charles Bradley's captivating soul set Saturday afternoon at Firefly's most private spot, the Backyard stage, which is tucked away on the northernmost corner of the 87-acre festival grounds. After all, the man is in his mid-60s, sings soul songs that harken back to '60s and '70s and dresses like he's an extra on Good Times, topped by an over-sized Afro.
He only began singing professionally about 15 years ago, culminating in his first studio album, the perfectly retro No Time for Dreaming. But backed by a young band complete with a horn section, Bradley gave it all he's got, knowing full well that not many 60-somethings get their first crack at being a critically acclaimed musical draw.
He dropped to his knees. He thanked the audience non-stop. And, of course, belted out some quality R&B, proving his nickname "The Screaming Eagle of Soul."
It was in the early '60s that Bradley first saw James Brown perform live and was immediately drawn to the electric legend. Fifty years later, he was at Firefly as the oldest headliner, showing the kids how it's done.
Sightings: Moon Taxi hopping on a golf cart for a photo, hamming it up with a large sub sandwich.
In the artist area, an impromptu soccer game broke out that included Michael Franti, Ghadiya from Young the Giant and Graffiti6.
Contributing: Ryan Cormier of The (Wilmington) News Journal
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