Earlier on Wednesday, as I as driving from Point A (an early morning meeting) to Point B (back to my office), I realized a most important notification popped up on my phone: the 2016 Firefly lineup was announced. And it’s good. Real good. Then I had to check, it's November, rght?! We were really finding out the lineup for June 16th - 19th, 2016? Indeed we were. It was like Firefly just gifted us all an early holiday gift!
It’s hard to believe that just about 5 months ago we were walking back through the gates of The Woodlands for Firefly 2015; excited for another 4 days of music floating through the air hour after hour, until the last act of the day was hear on Sunday night. This was our weekend of complete immersion of all things musically awesome. And we couldn’t wait.
The anxiously awaited notification came through as we were picking up our Firefly passes: The Firefly gates were open. With that, we hit the ground running…to The (Dogfish) Brewery. Obviously we needed to kick the weekend off properly.
From the very start Firefly 2015 was starting off SO much better compared to 2014. Why? Because last year The Brewery didn’t open until Friday. Oh thank goodness that wasn’t the case this year. Not only was The Brewery open, they were pouring 60 Minute, Firefly Ale (obviously), Namaste, Festina Peche, Tweason'ale, Aprihop, and, for the more seasoned craft beer adventurers, 90 Minute and Midas Touch. If felt kind of right kicking off Firefly with a 90 Minute (go big, or go home, right?!) We knocked it down a little bit with our next two beers: 60 Minute and Tweason‘ale. Otherwise this could have turned into a very short Festival night for us!
Rainboots were the name of the game at Firefly 2015.
We found a few craft beer t-shirts again this year too.
This year was unlike any other year we've attended. 2015 was the year of having access to the VIP areas. We'll fully admit, we were always slightly skeptical of whether or not VIP was totally worth it, but we very quickly realized that it is 100% (and then some!) worth it! Honestly, I'm not even sure why we thought it wouldn't be! It's not just the parking (for those of us who come in day, thanks to the very generous parents of our friend, Erika, we have a comfy bed and shower to go home to each night after the Festival, this was awesome to take advantage of), it's not just the cut-through paths between stages area, the different food booths and food station, or the extra bars set up in the VIP areas. It's amazing things like seating. Let me say it again - SEATING! And of course, we had a much better view of the stage, and without being smooshed among the crowds. Oh, and there's free water (and soda from time to time too).
We know, there's an noticeable price different between General Access passes and VIP passes (and an even greater difference between standard VIP and Super VIP. We can't even imagine what the new Cabanas are going to cost this year. But how cool do they sound?!)
But we LOVED VIP. It made Firefly easier. It made it even more of an awesome 4 day festival. We could get from the different stages quicker and with more ease with the cut-thrus they had for VIP folks. It made grabbing a drink on the way to the next stage so much easier (when we couldn't get back to The Brewery, that is!) They took care of us with little things such as sunblock, lip balm (awesome watermelon-flavored lip balm, at that) and water available throughout the 4 days. We could sit down and get out of the sun and heat in the air-conditioned tents that had a full bar inside and fun games like ping pong outside. Oh, and did we mention the VIP bathrooms. They were fancy port-o-pots that didn't make me want to hurl every time I went into them (that being said, Firefly and RedFrog does a stellar job doing their best keeping the General bathrooms clean. We don't want to diss their efforts on this!)
When we looked at the amenities, the ease of getting around and the proximity to the stages of the VIP area, the sum of it makes VIP is so worth it. SO worth it!
We also really enjoyed having a few unique food truck options next to The Firefly Main Stage. Between Big Cheese (the grilled cheese was so simple, yet so yummy, that went quite nicely with yet another Dogfish 90 Minute), Sum Pig (can we talk about these Buffalo Chicken Nachos?!) and Peace Love Tacos (when are tacos ever wrong?!) we were set when we were back at the Main Stage checking out acts like Sir Paul McCartney!
We also made sure we tried two of my suggested Dogfish/Festival food pairings too. One pairing I knew I wasn't going to miss was putting Dogfish Firefly Ale with a slice of Grotto's cheese pizza. It was awesome. Cause it's pizza and beer; Dogfish and Grotto's at that! I loved how Midas Touch pulled out the flavors in the Hawaiian-style Stir Fried Soba Noodles from Wok on the Wild Side on our way to the main stage on Friday night.
We also found that Dogfish 90 Minute pairs well with The Kooks and Tweason'ale was smooth and perfect with the sounds of Gary Clark, Jr. 90 Minute liked him too!
Last year we faced some crazy crowds at The Brewery, especially during the World Cup game. This year, Dogfish solved that problem with a To-Go booth. They had a few games of big beer pong and cornhole going on too, and with a nice view of the stage.
Firefly 2015 had one unique aspect pop up - a crazy storm roll through! We knew rain was in the forecast for Saturday so as you can expect we did as many rain dances as we could throughout the day. We weren't being greedy or particular: we would have been thrilled with no rain, less rain than was being forecasted, or, at the very least, for the storm to hold off until the scheduled acts got through their sets on Saturday.
At 7:39pm an alert went out on the Firefly app letting us know there was a schedule change for Foster the People, Kings of Leon, The Chainsmokers, Matoma and Rustie. As we were hanging out in the VIP area between The Porch and The Lawn Stage, where we caught the tail end of Vacationer before Sublime took the stage, we were handed ponchos from festival staff. Unfortunately, as we were having a blast listening to Sublime songs from our younger years, we realized that not only would we not be seeing Kings of Leon (or Foster the People who were on the Firefly Stage before them), we needed to haul arse back to the car before the skies opened up.
From The Lawn Stage, which is closer to the entrance of The Woodlands, back to the car, it's probably about a 10-15 minute walk. Okay, maybe longer by the end of the day when you've already walked 20,000+ steps. As we were heading out of Firefly the official announcement was being made from The Lawn Stage. They were postponing Firefly for the moment. We were grateful for the headstart we gave ourselves (primarily because when we ran into Ryan Cormier he told us we should really think about getting to the car, pronto). We got to the car and thought we'd try to wait it out. Then the rain came. And the lightening. And the thunder. And the wind.
As we sat in the car we received another notification from the app. This one came in 10:49pm and it was letting everyone know it was officially time to clear The Woodlands grounds and 'seek shelter in your vehicles immediately.' It pained us to hear that Kings of Leon wouldn't give going on and wouldn't be rescheduling, but knew that what was going on around us wasn't ending anytime soon. More importantly, we were grateful that everyone at Firefly and Red Frog put the safety of everyone at the festival above anything else. (And look at that, if you haven't noticed, Kings of Leon on the lineup for Firefly 2016. So stoked.)
But Sunday was back to being a sun shining kind of day, and Steve Aioki, who was originally scheduled for a pretty late set on Saturday night, was now performing Sunday afternoon. This was awesome for us old heads who would have been in bed by the time he took the stage during his originally slotted time on Saturday night!
Another fun thing: post-Firefly we asked the X Ambassadors if they had a go to craft beer, and their answer was pretty darn cool. "We all come form Ithaca, NY, so I'm going to go out on a limb here and speak for the entire band when I say...we love Ithaca Beer Company's 'Cascazilla,' Hoppy, and delish." Guess which beer was in the flight we had when we visited Ithaca Beer Company in September...yup, Cacazilla!
To say we're excited that Firefly 2016 passes go on sale tomorrow (at 11am) is a pretty big understatement. Between the just-announced line-up and the experiences we've had every year that we've attended (sorry for missing you, 2012) - especially the VIP experience - you can guarantee we'll be in Dover at The Woodlands every waking moment that grand ol' weekend in June.