After starting my Saturday of the 2016 Firefly Music Festival in the Toyota Music Den where Quilt played, I headed to the Backyard Stage to catch Fetty Wap. Though he was billed for 7:15, his DJ took the first half hour to play snippets of a bunch of modern rap hits, with Fetty not taking the stage until about 7:45. It was worth the wait though -- once Fetty got into it, it was hit after hit after hit with the gigantic crowd eating up every second of it. It's still kind of amazing how big "Trap Queen" is. A number of moments in the set had Fetty pointing his mic in the crowd to just-okay results, but before he could even fully start "Trap Queen" himself, the entire crowd was yelling every word at the top of their lungs, and the beat hadn't even kicked in yet. Even with that song getting a noticeably bigger reaction, the rest of the set succeeded. No other song had that big of a response, but Fetty still had the place moving and shouting to "679," "My Way," "Again," "RGF Island," "Jugg," and more.
After Fetty I caught the second half of Death Cab for Cutie's set. I arrived just as they were playing "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" with Lauren Mayberry of their recent tourmates CHVRCHES (who played earlier in the day) singing guest lead vocals. I was a little skeptical to see them, as I haven't loved a Death Cab album since Plans and they're now sadly without Chris Walla, but they were great. They've surprisingly sort of become the perfect big-stage festival band, even if their best days in the studio appear to be behind them, and had no trouble working their huge crowd. I would've liked to hear more older songs, but it was easy to see why they picked the ones they did. A song like "I Will Possess Your Heart" really gave the band room to breathe and project over the large crowd in a way that, say, "Coney Island" wouldn't have.
Fetty Wap was great and Vince Staples on Friday was great, but without question the best rapper to play Firefly 2016 was A$AP Rocky, who was on right after Death Cab. The biggest conflict of the weekend was that he was up against M83, and I heard awesome things about M83's set, but I don't regret choosing Rocky. His stage show had the kind of polished professionalism that you expect from guys like Kanye or Drake, but that still felt like a bit of a surprise coming from A$AP Rocky. I've only ever seen him in small and mid-size clubs (it's also been a few years), so his current setup is not something I ever would've predicted. He performed on a riser in front of killer visuals, often appearing just as a silhouette. It's no secret at music festivals that daytime sets will almost never be as visually appealing as sets in the dark, but Rocky was more than just visuals. He wasn't delayed a half an hour by a DJ, he wasn't plagued by the awkwardness of putting his mic in the crowd when he shouldn't be. He was in top form, and loaded his set with favorites like "Shabba," "Fuckin' Problems," "L$D," "Goldie," "Wild for the Night," and more. He was a true highlight of the festival.
Things stayed on a high note for Florence + the Machine. As Amanda pointed out when Florence played Brooklyn's Barclays Center earlier this week, she took advantage of the big stage by running and pirouetting all throughout the show. Most importantly though, her voice sounded fantastic. There are a lot of big-voiced singers on the Firefly lineup this year, but Florence's voice is so distinct and naturally powerful that she stands out among the rest. Her band is terrific too. I didn't count but they have a ton of members, including three backup singers, a harpist, and a rockin' drummer who really gave them a strong backbone. (Judging by his hair, tattoos, and style of drum fills, he seems like he has a background in heavier music.) Like in Brooklyn, Florence dedicated a song to the LGBTQ community and held up a rainbow flag. And setlist-wise she sprinkled old favorites against "What Kid of Man," "Queen of Peace," "Ship to Wreck," the title track, and more highlights off 2015's excellent How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Whether it was an oldie or a new one, she was giving it her all and the crowd was following suit.
Check out our review of Friday HERE. More Firefly coverage to come.
UPDATE: Sunday review HERE.
And if you're at the festival, don't forget to stop by the Toyota Music Den on Sunday where BrooklynVegan is hanging and DJing. Sunday has intimate sets by Laura Stevenson, Walshy Fire (of Major Lazer), and more.