Yesterday’s list of summertime cover songs by bands playing at the ever-growing Firefly Music Festival was by no means exhaustive, as you’ll see below.
The second day of Firefly, Friday, June 20, started around 12:30pm and stretched until 2am. (And for morning people, unlike myself, Red Bull sponsored a breakfast series where you could awake even earlier and catch some up and coming bands.)
My day, however, began with neo-psychedelic band Basic Vacation, hailing from New York City. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Greatti, bassist Jon Paul and drummer Mike Montalbano formed a snappy trio, playing their established songs like “I Believe” as well as new songs like “Sirens.” They also played a damn catchy cover of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Greatti said at the time that the band would not play it again after Firefly, but c’mon, guys! That was a really good cover, and you really put your own spin on it.
It was during the performance of Basic Vacation on the lawn stage that I began to notice an odd phenomenon. Lots of kids were carrying large cut-out heads of random celebrities, like Nicolas Cage and David Bowie and Bryan Cranston. I have no idea why they carried them, but these large cut-out heads showed up on the viewscreen monitors surprisingly well when the cameras cut to the audience during any particular show. If anyone can explain to me how this got started, I would be very interested in knowing.
I skipped out of Basic Vacation to catch the end of groovy South African rockers The Kongos — all four brothers named Kongo — close out their set on the main stage. They played their well-known songs “It’s a Good Life” and the catchy “Come with Me Now” to close out their show. They also apparently teamed up with rapper Moezart for a cover of The Beatles “Come Together,” which they mixed with “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, continuing the trend of seriously fun covers by every band in attendance.
I caught a bit of Ghost Beach as I moved back across the festival grounds. The electronic duo brought songs like “Been There Before,” “Without You,” and “Moon Over Japan” to an appreciative crowd. Ghost Beach, who were in DC in April to open for The Sounds, have an ambitious touring schedule through the fall, so you may well be able to catch them (just about anywhere other than DC) soon. They are well worth checking out.
My compatriots and I returned to the Firefly lawn stage for New Politics, who wowed the crowd with some crazy acrobatics and breakdancing courtesy of frontman David Boyd. They indeed played a song called “Break Dance.” The trio hail from Copenhagen, although they live in New York now, and they had a breezy, laidback attitude that seemed born of their Scandinavian homeland. They played songs from their self-titled first album, like “Give Me Hope,” and songs from their second album, last year’s A Bad Girl in Harlem, like “Harlem” and “Tonight You’re Perfect.” They also covered Justin Timberlake’s “My Love.”
After a break, it was time for the day’s big event for me personally — a performance by the Arctic Monkeys on the festival’s main stage. I’ve been an admirer of the Arctic Monkeys for a while, and I particularly like the smoother more adult sound of their fifth album AM, released in 2013. They gave that album a lot of attention, opening with “Do I Wanna Know?” and closing with “I Wanna Be Yours” and “R U Mine.” They also played a lot of favorites from across their catalog including “Brianstorm,” “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and “Dancing Shoes.” (I’ve always chuckled at the verses “Dancing Shoes” for the truth and bite in words like “And the shit, shock, horror/You’ve seen your future bride/Oh, but it’s oh so absurd/For you to say the first word/So you’re waiting and waiting.”)
My evening ended with a headlining performance by the Foo Fighters on the festival’s main stage. Dave Grohl and the other Foos chewed through a several hours-long performance, generally enjoying themselves and letting go with the occasional belch and letting their hair down.
The Foo Fighters played concert favorites like “My Hero” and “Monkey Wrench,” of course. But most surprising was their long encore performance, where they singlehandedly doubled the number of cover songs for the day’s festival, beginning with a cover of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” followed by “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones, “Ain’t Talking About Love” by Van Halen and “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen. They capped off the entire thing with their own most popular song, “Everlong.”
At this point, yours truly is truly exhausted. But I have at least one more report coming your way tomorrow if you want more even more festival. Stand by!