With Bonnaroo’s unfortunate last-minute cancellation due to Hurricane Ida, all eyes have shifted to what some have dubbed the “Bonnaroo of the East Coast” which presents one of the most comprehensive and compelling lineups of 2021. The Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware presents an incredible wooded environment for you to see a mixture of massive acts such as headliners Billie Eilish and Tame Impala alongside lesser-known artists that are sure to dominate the airwaves for years to come. The festival has served as a launching pad for artists like Imagine Dragons, Lizzo (who is headlining this year!), and CHVRCHES, and with that in mind, here’s who we think you need to see to so that you don’t get left behind:
1) Anna of the North
Similar Artists: MUNA, Maggie Rogers
For a minute, it looked like Anna of the North was about to blow up. With features on Tyler, The Creator’s Flower Boy and several of her songs appearing in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the world seemed primed for takeover from the Norweigian synthpopper. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but the release of her track “Here’s to Another” earlier this year indicates something great in the works, and I’d be willing to bet that this year is the one that catapults her into pop’s big leagues. With an opening set on the biggest Firefly stage on Friday, this could serve as her big entrance to the festival scene, and you probably ought to pay attention.
Similar Artists: Knocked Loose, Angel Du$t
An example of the sonic diversity found in this year’s lineup, TURNSTILE is a melodic hardcore band from Baltimore, Maryland that bends the rules of what hardcore is meant to be. Their album GLOW ON released last week is being hailed as an album of the year contender among many publications, and its intoxicating “kitchen sink” approach to hardcore makes it one of the most entertaining and riveting listens you’ll find this year. There’s no one else that is commanding their lane like TURNSTILE is right now, and the strength of GLOW ON paired with the legendary tales of their live performances makes this one of the absolute must-see sets on Thursday.
3) Butch Dawson
Similar Artists: Steve Lacy, Denzel Curry
Yet another Baltimorean, Butch Dawson has had a quick rise to become one of 2021’s brightest newcomers in the world of rap. With a technical ability that recalls the early mixtapes of Kendrick Lamar and a sonic vision that blends the dreamy stylings of The Internet with the hard-hitting beats of JPEGMAFIA, Dawson offers a refreshing take on rap music that’s unique and rapidly gaining popularity. Even with one of the earliest sets on Friday on the Backyard stage, his set will jar you awake and give you another artist to add to your regular rotation.
4) Middle Kids
Similar Artists: Wolf Alice, San Cisco
Coming from Sydney, Australia, Middle Kids construct big, bombastic rock songs that are designed to make you feel things while you sing along. After receiving critical acclaim for their debut album Lost Friends, this year’s release of Today We’re The Greatest served as a proclamation that they were ready to truly be “the greatest”. Singer Hannah Joy’s voice is simply marvelous, and their set on Sunday is sure to draw many folks into the fandom.
5) Still Woozy
Similar Artists: Glass Animals, Omar Apollo
Even though he’s arguably the most established artist on our list, there seems to be no ceiling that Still Woozy can’t shatter. His consistency is just remarkable, with his early EPs and singles slowly building up to his fantastic recently-released debut album If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is. The Oakland, CA songwriter is a vibe factory, transporting the listener to a world of chilled-out bliss that will have you dancing in the pit. His set on Saturday is a surefire opportunity to see a festival headliner before they reach that point, and it’s one of our most anticipated sets of the weekend.