Sneaking Into The Firefly Music Festival: Day 2

Firefly Day 2

I arrived back to the music festival with Chloe Rice hungover and wearing the same clothes. The great thing about music festivals is that arriving hung over and dirty means you blend in very nicely with the rest of the crowd. The majority of the returning festival goers had the same idea that Chloe and I had, to sleep off their headaches in a hammock. Firefly was kind enough to provide a small space nestled in the trees equipped with hammocks and swings to help us all power nap ourselves back into the right frame of mind for a festival.

We had arrived a little too late and were sorely let down by what we saw inside the grove. Most of the hammocks were already occupied by love birds nestled closely together sleeping soundly as the music from the nearest stage drifted in through the trees. The rest of the hammocks had been overtaken by two or sometimes even three perfect strangers. These weak party animals had learned that in the right situation, their need for personal space would disseminate, allowing them to seek refuge in the sweaty arms of someone they had never met. It’s sort of the way a drug addict can find refuge and companionship in another addict, even if the two fiends have nothing else in common aside from their mutual drug of choice. In this instance, the drug of choice was sleep, and everyone in the grove was jonesing for just a few more minutes.

We left the grove just in time to avoid the frat house of goons that broke the peace and quiet of the grove by hollering obscenities at one another as they crushed beer cans and threw a Frisbee back and forth. They wore neon face paint and were crowned with Native American headdresses. This is a fashion statement I don’t understand and see far too often at outdoor concerts. The link between Native Americans and music festivals eludes me completely. Perhaps it stems from the fact that the only relation that many of these inner city kids can make between human beings and nature comes from stories they were taught at a young age about Native Americans who had the unique ability to become one with nature. Although, I am not sure those Native Americans paired their headdresses with hot pink bikini bottoms from H & M while they danced around with glow sticks and listened to rock and roll. I could be wrong though, I didn’t pay that much attention in history class.

We didn’t need the hammocks anyway. Chloe and I were strong enough to press on without more sleep. We stammered our way over to the stage with just enough time to see Cults perform their last few songs. I had seen Cults play once before in the Milk Studios Jam Room for about a hundred people. I was smitten with their lead singer, Maddie Follin when I saw her perform at Milk and I remembered why as I watched her perform again. She bounces and sways as she sings giving her the innocence of a young girl performing at the school talent show. Follin’s swaying and bouncing is mimicked by the girls in the crowd as they sing along with her as if they had wrote the songs themselves. The hold Follin has over her crowd reminds me of the way Jenny Lewis of the band Rilo Kiley commands the attention of her fans by being excessively adorable on stage.

The performance ended and I remembered that I had received an email late the night before letting me know that our photo passes were available to be picked up, which meant we wouldn’t have to sneak into the photo pit anymore. Sadly, after asking a few members of the event staff where we could locate our passes, none of them seemed to know. The event staff, which seemed to be overwhelming comprised of young, blond college girls from Wisconsin (I’d say about 4 out of 5) were all very friendly and willing to do whatever they could to help us find our passes. One girl named Alicia drove us all around the festival in a golf cart for an hour trying to find the mysterious photo passes. When it became obvious that there were no photo passes to be found, Alicia told us that she knew where two extra passes were being kept and that we could just have those. All Alicia needed was our names and the name of the publication we were with.

“My name is Kalvin Lazarte and this is Chloe Rice and we are both with [insert name of one of the greatest rock and roll magazines of all time here].” It just felt right to continue on with our previous lie. Alicia told us both how jealous she was of where we worked as she wrote the information down on our photo passes.

Now that Chloe and I were walking around the festival with golden tickets dangling from our necks, the whole festival seemed like it had been unlocked. Every security guard greeted us with a smile. Every door was held open as we walked in. Even the hot air balloon rides were complimentary due to the fact that we were shooting for the publication we were supposedly shooting for.

Our new passes got us a spot next toBam Margera while we watched Cake perform to a crowd of loyal and dedicated fans. After that, we took the VIP short cut over to the stage where Modest Mouse was about to perform. As I waited for one of my favorite bands in the whole world to take the stage, I looked out at the crowd from the photo pit. On either side of the audience stood a massive green wall of trees and above them there was nothing but clouded skies. I have been to lots of amazing festivals and have snuck into countless beautiful places, but at that particular moment I felt like the spot I was standing in was the prettiest place on earth. It only got better as Modest Mouse came onto the stage like a ball of fire, sending the crowd into a screaming frenzy with Shit Luck and Dashboard in the first three songs.

The day turned into night as Lupe Fiasco preached his wise words to a crowd who wanted to sing alon but couldn’t get their lips to keep up with Lupe’s motor mouth. I usually don’t love rappers live performances because I think a lot of them lack energy on stage. Lupe is not like any other rapper though, and had my undivided attention as he darted from one side of the stage to the other, screaming his lyrics into an old school microphone with his name engraved on the top. His new hairstyle, a crop of small dreads, only added to his energy as he banged his head to the beat of a live drummer.

I had been waiting a long time to see The Killers and was very excited about their upcoming performance. I came expecting an amazing light show that would add to the power behind Brandon Flowers quivering voice as The Killers perform their anthems about the average man and above average dancer. I was not let down. No matter what anyone says, a well placed firework explosion during a concert is like watching Michael Jordan slam dunk a basketball during the playoffs.

Every camera at the festival was pointed in the direction of the main stage, so I knew I had to get to the photo pit quick if I was going to be able to get any footage at all. When I got to the entrance though, I was stopped abruptly by the out stretched hand of humongous security guard who didn’t look like he gave a shit about anything but saying no.

“No photographers are allowed in the pit for this show”

This wasn’t true at all, I could see that there were photographers in the pit shooting up towards the stage. Sure, there were only about 4 of them, but there’s a difference between “no photographers” and “not a lot of photographers”. I pointed this fact out to the security guard.

“Those photographers are house photographers and band photographers. The only other photographers that can be in here need to be from national publications.”

Without losing eye contact, I slowly picked my badge from off my chest and held it up for the security guard to read. He looked at it, then back at me as he shifted his weight just enough to let me squeeze by into the photo pit.

I felt like I had just outsmarted the FBI.

I didn’t take one photo from inside the pit. I just sat and watched as Brandon Flowers led The Killers from behind a neon lightning bolt. I looked back at the crowd as the fireworks exploded and thought about how 5 years ago, I would have been happy just to have a spot in the crowd close enough to see the singers face. That was five years ago though – now, I wouldn’t be happy until I was on stage watching my favorite bands perform.

Photos By: Chloe Rice & Kalvin Lazarte

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