It turns out you didn’t have to be a fan of some of the groups playing at Firefly 2015 to enjoy the four-day festival. You just had to enjoy music.
Dover’s Jane Welch and husband Chuck were among the estimated 90,000 music lovers on hand Saturday night during the third day of the four-day Firefly music festival. Their high school- and college-age kids already had spread out through the crowds as the couple themselves stood near the Lawn Stage, listening to the Austin, Texas-based indie rock band Spoon.
“We loved Paul McCartney last night, and Spoon tonight,” Jane noted. “It’s all according to your tastes, but I like all music.”
Although the couple described themselves as “older” than most at Firefly, it wasn’t their first time at the music fest, held adjacent to the Dover International Speedway.
“We came here last year to see the Foo Fighters and we had so much fun we had to come back,” Chuck said.
Not surprisingly, Chuck -- more formally known as Court of Common Pleas Judge Charles W. Welch III -- and Jane both think the festival is a great thing for Dover.
“It brings in a lot of money and it’s wonderful for the local economy,” Jane said. “It’s also really cool to see so many people having fun.”
Having fun is the name of the game at Firefly, and people apparently were enjoying themselves to the hilt. In between dancing or just moving and grooving to the sounds of the different bands, music lovers played Frisbee, tossed around footballs or just hung out together. Food and beer vendors seemed to be doing bang-up business -- some even completed orders while crowds were evacuated later due to severe thunderstorms -- and an arcade tent was alive with the lights and sounds of gamers engrossed in digital combat.
Instead of crowding into pits directly in front of bands, some tended to hang back a bit, lounging on blankets spread on the ground.
Diane Pope and Diane Doto of Cherry Hill, N.J., were chaperoning a Sweet 16 outing for Pope’s daughter, running herd on eight teenager girls who already had disappeared into the swarm of concert goers.
“We just like sitting here, watching the people go by, looking at the kids, the costumes and the signs,” Pope said.
The group had spent the night before in a local hotel but had decided to try a campout Saturday evening.
“You’ll have to ask us tomorrow about how that experience went,” Doto said.
Another couple, Amanda Fleming and Ryan Speer of Toledo, Ohio came to Firefly after first attending the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.
“We like the feel of being around all these people,” Fleming said. “This is a young crowd. I’m not young, but I don’t feel old here.”
The pair were taking in as many acts as possible, Speer said.
“There are a lot of bands here we don’t know about, but when you go and hear them all of a sudden you’re a fan,” he said.
The couple were listening to Dwight Baker and Patricia Lynn Drew, aka The Wind + The Wave, close out their set.
“We just heard their music, liked it and came on over,” Speer said.
The crowds in front of the Forest Stage roared their approval as Baker declared them “best audience ever!”
“They were just amazing!” said Patty Miller of Jacksonville Beach, Fla. “We didn’t know anything about them, but our friends said that if we see any band here at Firefly, we had to see this one.”
Baker himself seemed to be having fun as he chatted with fans, posed for photos and signed autographs.
“We love this place,” he said. “It’s probably been our fest festival ever -- and you can quote me on that.”
Unfortunately for all of the music fans at Firefly, the night was cut short when a band of thunderstorms, remnants of Tropical Storm Bill, moved through Kent County. With lightning flashing in the distance and the possibility of 70 mph winds, Firefly operators Red Frog Events decided to shut things down for the night.
The Grammy-winning Kings of Leon, whose 10:30 p.m. appearance was moved up to 9:45, eventually was cancelled. Red Frog organizers were able to reschedule two acts, Steve Aoki and the Chainsmokers for Sunday.