Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Stronger than the Storm"

Train, The Script, and Gavin DeGraw at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ

When my mother told me she bought tickets to see Train, The Script, and Gavin DeGraw for night two of our week's long vacation, I was mildly excited. We spend a week in Ocean City, NJ almost every summer, and as much as I truly do love the Jersey Shore and OC in particular, walking the boardwalk six nights out of the year, every year, can get a bit old. A concert would be a change of pace, even if I didn't particularly love any of the musicians, and even if it did end up taking about two hours to get to Holmdel. 

I found out later that Bob Dylan, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket would be performing at the Susquehanna Bank Center on the same night, and I died a little bit inside, because I do particularly love all three of those acts. But, I tried to look at the bright side: I've seen Bob Dylan, Wilco, and Jim James, so the concert in Holmdel would be a new experience. Plus, I'd never gone to a concert with my mother and both of my sisters, so this would be an all-out family affair, and that's generally fun and/or interesting.

At the concert, however, there was literally no "bright side." It poured on and off during the entire show, and for us lawn goers, things got a bit messy. In the end though, I felt the rain and thunder and gigantic streaks of lightning added to the spectacle, and I now know both New Jersey and I are really "stronger than the storm."

As for the acts themselves, I was pleasantly surprised by all of them. Although Gavin DeGraw only played for about 40 minutes, his soulful sound warmed me up to the idea of standing in the cold rain. I wouldn't necessarily rush out to see him live again, but he pleased the crowd, and my middle school self definitely got a kick out of singing along to "I Don't Wanna Be." 

Actually, the concert on the whole concert appealed to my middle school self, who had a fleeting stage of obsession with The Script, because she read something about them in Seventeen Magazine. When The Script first came out on stage, they played this strange video that I still don't quite understand. Lead singer Danny O'Donoghue turned me off almost immediately when started repeating "here we go" over and over. Cheesy. As they got into their set, they started to work their magic on me, using their good looks and Irish accents to their advantage, but I'm not complaining. 

During "Nothing," one of their many break up songs, O'Donoghue asked an audience member for her phone and had her call an old boyfriend, to whom he sang the song, so I give them credit for being creative and fun. I don't have too much to complain about, aside from the fact that they pushed their Twitter and Facebook pages a little too hard. We get it, you want people to like you, but fans should motivate themselves to take that extra leap into online commitment. (Learn from your break up songs.) 

Train was the highlight, far and away. I went in a fair weather Train supporter and left an almost die hard fan. With each of their songs bringing something new to the mix, be it blues, reggae, or rock, Train proves their uniqueness and talent. Although it was a bit difficult for a PA girl to hear how much lead singer Patrick Monahan likes his NJ crowds, the level of audience interaction made you feel appreciated and a part of the experience, rather than just a bystander. At times, however, the audience interaction may have felt a little intrusive to the music, as Monahan snapped pictures with guests who joined him onstage for "Mermaid."

Still, Train raised the bar musically, and made up for any small flaws by covering songs by The Beatles, Macklemore, Bob Marley, and others, offering each rendition their alternative rock viba. In one short segment, the band played a recorded mash-up of a bunch of popular pop and electronic songs, welcoming every genre into their performance. 

Ashley Monroe, who joined Train in singing their new single, "Bruises," won audiences over with her comical love song "Weed instead of Roses" and brought in a stronger country vibe. 

The end solidified my new-found love of Train. After getting goosebumps during their encore performance of "Drops of Jupiter," Gavin DeGraw, The Script, and Ashley Monroe joined Train in singing "The Weight" by The Band, with their voices harmonizing to perfection. 

Lesson learned: always be open-minded. Go see shows or read books or watch movies or do something you don't particularly love, because you just mind find yourself to be a new fan. 

Follow me at @AW_Reporter. 

A sold out crowd! (Pictures were difficult to take from such a distance, as you can tell.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rick & MC: business men, family men, rock stars

As part of my continuing series on local musicians, I spoke to acoustic eclectic rock band Rick & MC. With Rick Toure on guitar and lead vocals, and Mike Carlin on drums and backup vocals, Rick & MC prove themselves to be a powerful duo performing all around the Philadelphia area. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Heyyo, Check Out This Article

I've focused some energy lately on bringing local bands out into the The Reporter's spotlight. 

Yesterday's paper featured my first article in the series: an interview with up and coming hip-hop, pop duo, Heyyo, featuring Matt Fell and Dan Gevirtz. Heyyo burst onto the scene with their rendition of Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen," which racked up over 17,000 views in its first few days on Youtube.

For the full story on the band that's been the talk of town lately, check out my article on

Enjoy, and remember you can follow me on Twitter at @AW_Reporter! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Global Citizen

Last September, I had the privilege of attending the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, featuring Neil Young, The Black Keys, the Foo Fighters, the Band of Horses, K'naan, and many other musical and celebrity appearances.

Before my friend won free tickets to the event, I had never heard of the Global Citizen Festival. I was curious as to how he managed to win tickets to such an amazing concert, but to be honest, I was at first too ecstatic about the prospect of seeing the rock legend Neil Young to investigate the festival further. What I came to learn, however, is that while the performances may have been great, there is meaning behind the festival far beyond the music. 

In between the musical guests, speakers would present information about the extreme poverty that continues to plague our world -- educating the audience on steps that we can taken to end it. I remember feeling a bit ashamed of the audience at times, because some viewers only gave half of their attention to the presentations, while they devoted it fully to the musicians. The Global Citizen Festival has the potential to raise awareness of social issues in the same way that Live 8 did back in 2005, but it must succeed in reminding the audience of the bigger purpose of the entertainment and inspire them to carry that message to others after the concert ends. 

I took a trip up to New York City on Sunday, and I passed a poster for the second annual Global Citizen Festival to take place on Saturday, September 28 in Central Park, with headliners Stevie Wonder, Kings of Leon, Alicia Keys, and John Mayer. This time around, I decided to do some more research ahead of time, and find out what being a Global Citizen means, and how it helps solve the world's most troubling problems. 

The Global Citizen organization, according to their website, is "a learning and action tool designed to help you become a more effective for change." Through their app and their website, Global Citizen strives to educate our society on extreme poverty and works to motivate individuals to spread understanding, make changes, think globally, and develop a lasting sense of commitment to helping better this ever-connected world in which we live. 

To win tickets to the Global Citizen Festival, members of can earn points by getting involved  in the cause through such activities as watching videos, signing positions, and contacting local representatives. 
Although the festival may have struggled a bit in getting its message across to the tens of thousands of attendees during its inaugural year, I truly hope to see Global Citizen grow and expand its influence in the future, as I believe its tactics, principals, and goals have the potential for real change.

Regardless of whether or not I make it to this year's festival, I can now call myself a proud Global Citizen, and I truly encourage everyone to check out their website and their cause.

Global Citizen Festival: Saturday, September 29, 2012 in Central Park

View of the crowd

Katie Couric opening the festival

K'naan performed an incredible version of "Wavin Flag," the Official Theme Song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses

John Legend made a surprise appearance, singing a moving rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine"

Olivia Wilde took a stand against poverty

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys

NYC skyline over the crowd

An image captured during one of the informational videos

The Foo Fighters performed on stage as a band for potentially the last time 

And needless to say, the Foo Fighters put on an amazing show

The man, the myth, the legend: Neil Young 

The festival closing with an epic collaboration involving all of the artists present

All photos by Alison Wallach

Friday, July 19, 2013


Rather than post a list of the upcoming concerts in the Philadelphia region, I thought I'd live up to my promise and share with you some of the free events happening in the area instead!

Saturday, July 20:
Free Screening of "Ghostbusters" at Parx Casino
Appreciate the complete, but abridged works of William Shakespeare -- As a literature buff, this event sounds right up my alley, and better yet, they'll be at Whites Road Park in Lansdale on the 25!
Jam out at Tavola Restaurant and Bar in Springfield -- Bands perform regularly here, so check it out!
Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Fest -- Wishing I was down the shore this weekend to enjoy this.

Sunday, July 21:
The Large Flowerheads at Quakertown Memorial Park -- Never pass up a free concert if the opportunity presents itself!
Merion Concert Band at Souderton Community Park -- Part of the Concert Sundaes series. Music and ice cream: is there any better combination?

Monday, July 22:
Free Screening of "UHF" at the Trocadero Theater

Wednesday, July 24:
Christopher Dean Band at Chapman Park

Thursday, July 25:
Free Screening of the "Princess Bride" in Vernon Park -- One of my favorite movies!
Midnight in Paris at Schuylkill Banks -- Another amazing movie. This just sounds beautiful all around.
Hector Rosado Latin Band at Lanning Square Park

This is just a glimpse of some free events -- there are a lot more out there! I'm so excited about all of these possibilities. There's nothing better than saving money and having fun, AT THE SAME TIME! Check out more free events coming up:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Block Partying

For the past several years of Radio 104.5's Summer Block Party Series, I've wanted to go to every show. And until this Saturday, I had yet to go to any.

I've always tried to take advantage of free concerts, and I'm ashamed to say that my attempts have largely failed. All too often, I've thrown in the towel on finding free concerts, and settled instead for lightening my wallet with the cost of overpriced tickets. It wasn't until I sat down and really thought about all the money I've spent on all those concerts over the years, that I realized how much money I've really spent on all those concerts over the years. Truly an astounding realization, right?

So here's my new vow: From here on out, I will do my best to find free and affordable concerts in our area and share them with you, so that together, we can succeed in satisfying our musical needs without breaking the bank. 

From May through September, Radio 104.5 hosts free concerts at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties on one Saturday afternoon out of each month. As fate would have it, something or someone would pop up and prevent me from going at the last minute. This past Saturday, I was determined to let nothing stand in my way from making to the show, which featured Bad Books, Capital Cities, and Cold War Kids. 

Of course, Saturday rolled around, and hurdles starting springing up on my straight and narrow path to the concert. 

I am a fan of planning. I apologize in advance for my lack of spontaneity, but I prefer to know what will go on and when and why and how and with whom. However, my planning for this concert was just not happening.

Long story short, a "plan" to be there at 3 pm for the 3:45 pm start of the show, became the reality of arriving at around 5 pm. We missed Bad Books' performance completely, but that wasn't going to stop me from enjoying the rest of the show. Not to mention, for one of my accompanying friends, this would be her first concert, so we had to make the most of it!

From what I saw of Capital Cities, they were incredible. They engaged a hot and crowded audience with enthusiasm, jumping all over the stage. I particularly loved their use of trumpet, which adds a uniqueness to their sound unheard of with most other indie pop bands. Singing along to their rendition of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" proved to be a highlight of the concert. 

After Capital Cities came the rain, which I welcomed as a cool break from the heat... Until it started coming down a bit harder and at unpredictable times. The rain staved off Cold War Kids' set, as they had to play on a completely uncovered stage. Although the crowd became uneasy at times, we all remained entertained by the onlookers who threw water balloons from the balconies of the apartment buildings that surround the open-air plaza. 

At around 7 pm, the scheduled ending time for the Block Party, the Cold War Kids finally came out on stage, bringing musical relief to the relatively patient crowd. Even though the crowd surfers became an annoyance and a distraction, I must admit that as soon as the band came out, visions of my body crowd surfing my way closer to the front danced like sugar plums in my head. 

Unfortunately, a friend of mine began to feel faint, leading to our immediate departure towards the back of the crowd only one song into Cold War Kids' set. (Radio 104.5, if you're reading this, have more food and drink vendors available so we can keep people hydrated and full!) 
But it all ended up okay, because she's okay, and because we got to hear Cold War Kids' hit "Miracle Mile" from a comfortable spot on the pavement. Plus, we beat the rush to some delicious pizza down the street at Rustica. (For thin, crispy crust lovers, I highly recommend this place:

Driving home that night, we made about five wrong turns, of course -- it was only fitting. I couldn't have planned for anything that happened that day, which made me realize how futile my little play books become. Sometimes life gets in the way of your plans, and sometimes that makes for the best adventures. 

Here's some more information about the Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party series. I hope to see you there next time!
Here's a few upcoming free concerts and events in Philadelphia, as promised:

An excited crowd for Capital Cities 

A massive crowd at The Piazza at Schmidt's

The enemy stood on their fortress, pummeling us with water balloons  

Cold War Kids arrive with the return of the sun

I just love this city.

All photos by Alison Wallach

Friday, July 12, 2013

Regional Concerts for the Weekend of July 12

Here's a collection of some of the top concerts at the best regional venues for the weekend of Friday, July 12 - Sunday, July 14:

Tonight, Friday, July 12:

  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark with Diamond Rings at Union Transfer
  • Los Lonely Boys at The Music Box, Borgata Hotel & Casino
  • JD McPherson with John the Conqueror at the World Cafe Live (Downstairs)
  • Jadakiss with Gillie Da Kid at the Theater of the Living Arts
  • Vans Warped Tour 2013 at the Susquehanna Bank Center -- I've only heard great things of Warped Tour, more information about the tour:
Saturday, July 13 (An great day for concert-goers in Philadelphia):
  • Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party: FREE concert with Cold War Kids, Bad Books, and Capital Cities at the Piazza at Schmidt's -- I'll be there, and I'm PUMPED! Click this link for more information:
  • Kansas at the Tropicana Casino
  • Wire with Bear in Heaven at Union Transfer
  • The Specials with Little Hurricane at the Theater of the Living Arts
  • Furthur Festival 2013: Phil Lesh with Bob Weir and Furthur at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts -- Wear your finest tie dye for this one
  • Mac Miller with Meek Mill, Chance the Rapper, Vince Staples, and the Internet at the Festival Pier at Penn's Landing -- This will probably be a lot of fun
  • Dash Berlin with Haven Nightclub at Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino
  • Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at the Susquehanna Bank Center, Rob Thomas Headlines -- more information:
  • Wire with Bear in Heaven at Union Transfer
Sunday, July 14: 
  • A Flock of Seagulls at the Trocadero Theater 
  • Savages with Johnny Hostile at Union Transfer

All information on the above concerts is from Visit their website for a more detailed listing of regional concerts. 

Happy concerting; thanks for reading!

Follow me at @AW_Reporter. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Firefly Updates

At the Firefly Music Festival, Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, joined the Avett Brothers on stage for part of their performance. The following link will bring you to a conversation between Chad Smith and Scott and Seth Avett, which can found on the Avett Brothers' Facebook page. I always find it interesting to listen to discussions between talented people, because it both humanizes them and gives glimpse into the way their minds work. Check it out:

The following link will take you an album with professional pictures of the artists at Firefly, located on the festival's official Facebook page:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Favorite Seaside Songs

Having just returned from a vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, I decided to spend some time revamping my summer playlist, a collection of songs that serve as the perfect accompaniment to that spot on the sand with a cold drink in your hand.

Here's a list of some of my all-time favorite summer songs, each of them having the power to bring back memories of that blissful sea breeze, no matter how far from the shore you may be. Click each of the song titles for a link to the best Youtube videos of the songs I could find!

-  "Summertime" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong My favorite version of this classic song. The slow, easy, warm voice of Ella Fitzgerald melts right into your soul, and Louis Armstrong's raspy sound is like the glue that keeps it lingering there long after the song has ended.

"Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley Bob Marley is the Champion of Chill. What better way to settle into the sand than listening to the smooth, reggae sounds that implore you not to "worry about a thing"?

"OB-LA-DI OB-LA-DA" by The Beatles In sticking with the message of carefree summer days, I consider this song to be one of the happiest ever written

"Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I've gone down to the Jersey Shore during every summer for as long as I can remember, and as a New Jersey native, Springsteen can bring those fleeting, summer nights of your youth to life.

"California Girls" by The Beach Boys You can't have a summer playlist without The Beach Boys -- it's just unnatural. Forget Katy Perry's "California Gurls;" it's all about the original. (Watch this video for a good laugh)

"Strawberry Swing" by Coldplay Everything about this song and music video make me smile.

"Groovin'" by The Rascals, formerly known as The Young Rascals I picture myself sitting in the shade with an ice cream cone in hand for this one.

"Cabin By the Sea" by The Dirty Heads If anyone were to ask my idea of a perfect vacation, I think I'd play them this song.

"Ooh La La" by The Faces Summer just seems synonymous with being young and the mistakes we make because we're young.

"5 Years Time" by Noah and the Whale It's the combination of whistling and ukulele playing that make this the perfect summer song.

"Home" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros During their performance at the Firefly Music Festival, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros asked the audience to fill the spoken verse of the song with their own stories, so write your own summer romance to the tune of this song.

"Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin ... Or, if you prefer a more traditional love song, imagine yourself making eye contact with your summer love as this song plays in the background.

"Daylight" by Matt and Kim This is my favorite song to play on the way to beach, with the windows rolled down so your cares can fly through them.

"Gobbledigook" by Sigur Rós You don't have to speak Icelandic to feel the pure joy that emanates from this song. To me, it's an ode to finding that completely carefree zone in which everything is beautiful.

"Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding Arguably one of the greatest songs ever recorded. I'm not sure we'll ever be graced with a soul singer as tremendous as Otis Redding.

"Dancing in the Moonlight" by King Harvest There's no better way to end your day at the beach (or your day at the office) than by dancing barefoot in the grass to this song.

Have some fun putting together your own summertime playlist and make every day a beach day!

Below are some snapshots I took in Ocean City, MD. Enjoy!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Local Concerts for the Weekend of June 28

Here's a collection of some of the top concerts at the best local venues for the weekend of Friday, June 28 - Sunday, June 30:

Friday, June 28:

  • Dave Matthews Band with Mavis Staples at the Susquehanna Bank Center -- A favorite for sure
  • Tesla at Penn's Peak 
  • Darren Criss at the Theater of the Living Arts
  • Les Professionnels with Art Installation by Brooks Bell at Milkboy Philly
  • The Cat Empire with Blackalicious at the World Café Live (Downstairs) -- Take a listen to The Cat Empire, they're worth it:
  • Designer Drugs and Skitsnygg at the Soundgarden Hotel
Saturday, June 29:
  • Dave Matthews Band with Mavis Staples at the Susquehanna Bank Center
  • The Doobie Brothers at Ceasar's Atlantic City -- Some classic rock fun
  • Dash Berlin at Soundgarden Hotel 
  • Zombie Beach Party with Sharkskins, DJ Kiltboy, and Dave Ghoul at the Trocadero Theater 
  • Greyboy Allstars with Tauk at Union Transfer
  • Morning Teleportation with Nico's Gun and Bridge Underwater at Milkboy Philly
  • Barrington Levy with Sensamotion at The Blockley
  • Blow the Scene Fest 2013 at the Broad Street Ministry -- Visit for more information
  • Pennsylvania Deathbed Festival 2013 at Maingate -- Visit the event's Facebook page at
Sunday, June 30: 
  • Counting Crows with The Wallflowers at the Borgata Event Center -- Oh, how I wish I was going to this concert
  • 92.5 Anniversary Show with Braid Paisley at the Susquehanna Bank Center 
  • Shakedown Flea Market at The Blockley -- This isn't actually a concert, but it sounds like fun, and it's free! Visit their facebook page for more information:
  • Legends in Concert 2013 at Bally's Atlantic City -- Visit for more information 
All information on the above concerts is from Visit their website for a more detailed listing of regional concerts. Have a great weekend fellow concert-goers and music lovers! 

Follow me at @AW_Reporter. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Rolling Stones Bid Farewell to America

By Alison Wallach

On Monday night, The Rolling Stones performed at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. as their final North American stop before moving onto England where they will continue their 50 and Counting Tour -- a tour they claim will be their last.

Rock education has been a central part of my upbringing. I can remember my father singing The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" to subdue the tears that fell in my "terrible twos" as I wailed over not having the latest season of Barney on videotape or had a temper tantrum in the grocery store when I couldn't quite reach the Frosted Flakes. I probably knew the chorus of that song better than I knew the alphabet.

Seeing The Rolling Stones live in concert sat as an unchecked item on my bucket list for years, and with the cost of tickets and the age of the band members rising higher, I figured my bucket list would remain in this sad, unfulfilled state for all eternity.

As fate would have it, tickets went on sale for The Rolling Stones supposed last tour date in America EVER, and my father could not pass up this opportunity, securing tickets before they sold out in their typical, lightening speed fashion.

And so it would happen: I would see The Rolling Stones in concert. I would be in the same room as The Rolling Stones! Granted, that room is, according to, "a 20,000-seat multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue," but I digress.

The Stones opened with "Get Off Of My Cloud," an edgy start, but an impressive one.

Throughout the night, Mick Jagger's voice only grew stronger, and his energy level somehow managed to increase precipitously as he began to incorporate more dancing and motion across the stage. How a person can sustain such stamina at age 69 is truly beyond me. He's an inspiration to all of us less than elderly people who occasionally find ourselves breathless at the top of the stairs.

The audience, on the other hand, watched The Stones from their seats as if they were watching a game of golf on their televisions. Although sitters may be expected in the nosebleed area that I occupied, the tongue pit, a section of the audience directly in front of the stage where tickets are worth $1,600, didn't really give back the same kind of enthusiasm Mick Jagger gave out. This is the world's greatest rock and roll band, and there they are on stage pouring their hearts out on their 50th anniversary tour, how can the audience not feel motivated to get up and dance?

I decided to sum up the audience's lack of movement to a case of the Mondays, and perhaps, in some instances, a case of arthritis. I shouted the lyrics of "Gimme Shelter" back to the band, trusting they heard me from 100 feet away, and I danced excitedly as heard the first "woo woo's" of "Sympathy for the Devil."

Although the concert featured no surprise guest as became customary with the other performances of the 50 and Counting Tour, Mick Taylor, former guitarist for The Rolling Stones, did make a special appearance on stage with the band. During the performance of "Midnight Rambler," Taylor accompanied The Stones to  produce pure musical gold. The intensity of Mick Jagger's vocals reached a new peak as did his harmonica playing; Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, and Ronnie Wood complimented each other's guitar playing perfectly, which resulted in raw, clear riffs; and Charlie Watts was on point on drums, as always.

Keith Richards took a turn at the mic with "You Got the Silver" and "Before They Make Me Run," sounding and appearing better than he has in recent years, with a smile on his face that lit up the crowd.

When they played "You Can't Always Get What You Want," it sunk in that I had really made it -- my life with The Rolling Stones had come full circle.

After what amounted to a two-hour and twenty-minute all-around incredible performance, The Rolling Stones closed with a very satisfying performance of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," and thus ended one of the greatest experiences of my life.
The Rolling Stones performed at the Verizon Center to a sold-out crowd

Both Photos by Alison Wallach

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Overview of the Firefly Music Festival

By Alison Wallach

Year two of the Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands of the Dover International Speedway exceeded my already high expectations. From Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23, I spent my days and nights in a musical Heaven, rocking out with upwards of 60,000 others who likewise basked in the glory of mind blowing sights, miraculous sounds, and the most delicious cheeseburgers.

Nothing beats the feeling of enormous groups of people coming together to appreciate their shared music tastes and each other's company. It's music festivals like Firefly that are quickly becoming the Woodstocks of our generation. Everywhere I looked I saw something else to fulfill my long awaited, music festival dreams -- a million chances to check off the "to-do's" on my Firefly bucket list.

When I say that I'm bad with directions, I mean that I sometimes need a GPS to navigate my way safely from my bedroom to my kitchen. That being said, the immensity of Firefly's grounds overwhelmed me, but it was the positive kind of overwhelming feeling that fills you with joyous anticipation. Every corner brought with it a new surprise, be it a silent dance party at the Headphone Disco or a patch of dirt that I welcomed as a complimentary mud bath. Not to mention, Firefly stationed enough maps on the grounds and enough volunteers ready to assist guests with anything they needed to ensure that people like me didn't wind up in the wrong part of the Woodlands.

Granted, I lived in luxury during those three days. I cannot say that I got the full experience of the Firefly Music Festival, as I stationed myself at a friend's apartment, conveniently located forty minutes outside of Dover in Newark, Delaware. (Shout out to Steph Espie for housing me -- you rock harder than Firefly!)

Being a newbie to the world of three-day long jam sessions, I felt a bit intimidated by the seasoned professionals who knew what to do and when to go do it. Each day presented me with a number of crucial, life-altering decisions: do I go see Matt and Kim at the Lawn Stage and risk losing my sweet, front row spot at the Firefly Main Stage where I'd see Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite and Passion Pit?

I chose to play it safe, and I apparently missed one amazing performance by Matt and Kim. Yet, I did get to hear Ben Harper's rich, bluesy, soulful sound from several feet away and come within inches of Passion Pit's lead singer Michael Angelakos as he jumped from the stage to get the audience's help in singing "Sleepy Head" after allergies caused him to lose his voice. Angelakos explained that his battle with Bipolar Disorder forced him to cancel his scheduled performance at last year's Firefly in addition to all of his July 2012 tour dates. Although they had to finish their performance early due to Angelakos' throat issues,  Passion Pit put on one of the most energetic, heartfelt performances of Firefly, motivated by Angelakos' refusal to let anything prevent him from making it up to the crowd at Firefly by giving it his absolute all.

Other festival highlights included Friday evening's performance by The Avett Brothers, who captivated audiences with their perfectly balanced setlist of folk and bluegrass sounds combined with indie rock and their even more perfect and chill-rendering vocal harmonies. During the performance, Seth Avett crowd surfed the audience with his guitar in hand.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers did not disappoint on Friday night, performing many of their classic hits with as much enthusiasm and instrumental magic as ever. When the RHCP returned to the stage for an encore, bassist Michael Peter Balzary, more commonly known as Flea, came walking in on his hands, a literal testament to the continuing strength of the band both musically and physically in terms of performance stamina and stage presence.

On Saturday afternoon, the Alabama Shakes drew a remarkably large crowd, as lead singer Brittany Howard belted out vocals reminiscent of a young Aretha Franklin, as second-year Firefly attendee Stephen Harrington said. Her voice dipped with emotion and passion that reverberated towards the outermost reaches of the audience.

In contrast, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros seemed to struggle in keeping the audience's attention. Having seen them previously at The Theater of the Living Arts, it's obvious they perform better in a more intimate settings, as is the case with many bands who naturally prefer captive audiences. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes in particular seem to feed off the audience's energy and interact a good deal with their guests, which becomes difficult in a festival crowd.

When I saw Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros last, they were amazing and got everyone in the audience up and dancing. I remember leaving thinking that the band put on one of the best shows I had ever sen, hence my surprise when I felt their performance at Firefly to be lackluster. The chemistry between lead singer Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos makes for a powerful performance, but it appeared as if Castrinos had fallen ill and if Ebert couldn't bear the heat. At one point, an audience member requested that they play their hit "Home," to which Ebert replied, "No s**t we'll get to it," not putting much effort into hiding any bitterness. Still, they played "Home" and their other hits with what some enthusiasm."

Saturday certainly ended on a high note with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers closing out day two. Despite the predominately young crowd at Firefly, Tom Petty never seems to go out of style, with hoards of fans, young and old, coming out in support of the band. The massive sing along that broke out during "Free Fallin'" created a beautiful moment of unity, happiness, and love among the concert-goers.

Sunday's brief periods of hard rain couldn't put a damper on the festival goers who took it as an opportunity to both re-hydrate and a get a break from the rather oppressive heat and humidity. Sunday also brought with it up and coming folk band Delta Rae, who put on an incredible performance and covered Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" in an amazing rendition. The band seemed genuinely thrilled to have the support of a rather large crowd, and their excitement came shining through in their music.

Foster the People replaced Imagine Dragons to close the festival on Sunday night, putting on a visual spectacle with an array of lights and dancers dressed up as ghoulish creatures similar to those on the cover of the band's 2011 album Torches. Although Foster the People slightly disappointed in that they ended their set fifteen minutes early, they made up for it with the presentation of new material and their killer finale of
"Pumped Up Kicks."

So, was Firefly worth the six and a half hour traffic back up the first day? Was it worth the cost? Was it worth the mud stains that cover every article of clothing I wore? No doubt about it.
Would I go again next year, and the many consecutive years afterwards in which I predict Firefly will continue to rein supreme among the East Coast's music festivals?
I'll see you there.

The Avett Brothers perform at Main Stage on Friday

Seth Avett awesomely crowd surfing 
Joe Kwon of The Avett Brothers, wielding his cello like a weapon of musical brilliance. Also notice Chad Smith  of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums. 
Bassist Flea and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tear it up

RHCP performing "Californication"

Jim James lights up the stage
Jim James on saxophone

The Alabama Shakes on Saturday afternoon

The passion of Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes

Delta Rae 

Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper play the blues

Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit loses his voice and asks the audience to sing

Vampire Weekend: 10/10

Foster the People close Firefly 

The lights and dancers of Foster the People's eye-catching performance

Photo by our friend Mike the Security Guard

Bob Saget made an appearance via cardboard cutout

All above photos by Alison Wallach, except where noted otherwise

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Local Concerts for the Weekend of June 15

Here's a collection of some of the top concerts at the best local venues for the weekend of Saturday, June 15 - Sunday, June 16:

Saturday, June 15:
  • Sting at the Borgata Event Center
  • New Kids on the Block with Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees at the Wells Fargo Center
  • Delbert McClinton at the Keswick Theater
  • Foreigner at the Golden Nugget
Sunday, June 16:
  • Celtic Woman at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts
  • Willie Nelson at Sands Bethlehem Event Center
  • Junip with Quadron and Barbarossa at Union Transfer
All concert information retrieved from, visit this website for local concert listings and more.

Preview of the Firefly Music Festival!

By: Alison Wallach

DOVER, DE –In less than two hours by car, you can make it to one of the region’s largest summer concert festivals, the Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, taking place from June 21 to June 23.

Featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Vampire Weekend, and 68 other performers, Firefly offers a wide variety of musical artists to please its tens of thousands of attendees. According to a press release from the Firefly Music Festival and Red Frog Events, in its inaugural year of 2012, over 30,000 people crowded the eighty-seven acres of festival grounds each day.

“We set out to make Firefly the East Coast’s premier music festival and delivered in our inaugural year, with more than 30,000 individuals experiencing 48 performances over three days,” says Firefly Music Festival Director Greg Bostrom. “We couldn’t be more excited to add to last year’s success as we bring Firefly to life for a second year. Between our star-studded lineup, enthusiastic fans and great partners at Dover International Speedway, we plan to bring an even bigger and better festival to The Woodlands this June.”

Each day, bands play at one of four locations on the festival’s grounds, providing a constant stream of music from noon to midnight.

If in need of a break from the music, concertgoers have no shortage of options for a change of pace. According to its website (, Firefly will introduce this year the “Forest Cinema,” where attendees can watch black and white, silent films in a secluded location in The Woodlands. The festival also features an arcade; a hot air balloon; an attraction known as “The Pathway,” which features a light show in a forest clearing; and “Hammock Hangouts,” where you can take a respite from rocking out and lounge with friends. The “Heineken Domes” showcase DJs and VJ who will “perform amidst refreshing AC and an incredible 360° audio visual experience,” Firefly’s website says.

Collaborating with TOMS Shoes, Firefly offers TOMS available for purchase, with artists on hand to customize your shoes. For every pair of TOMS bought at Firefly, a child in need will receive a pair of shoes through the One for One Movement.

According to the festival’s website, Firefly will expand its community and global impact through its “Sustainable Beats” program, which creates carbon neutral environment by offsetting its energy usage with the help of the Green Mountain Energy Company. Last year, Firefly successfully offset over 945,100 pounds of carbon dioxide. (

Partnering with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and their Music Gives to St. Jude Kids initiative, Firefly raised $4.6 million last year towards the fight against childhood cancer and they’re “thrilled to raise even more money in 2013,” as stated on their website. (

When it comes to feeding the tens of thousands of guests, Firefly makes it easy to find something to please every palate. Although outside food is prohibited, the festival features numerous food stands as part of its Farmers Market, offering items ranging from vegan and healthy food to burgers and pizza. The festival also boasts a winery presenting popular local wines known as “The Vineyard,” Bearclaw Coffee at The Coffee House, and Dogfish Head beer at The Brewery.
Thousands will camp out at the three-day long festival, renting out space in designated locations for tent camping, RV camping, and what Firefly’s website refers to as “glamping,” or “glamorous camping” in air-conditioned tents. (

For those less inclined to roughing it outdoors, the festival grounds are less than an hour from Newark and Wilmington, each with plenty of options for hotel accommodations. Follow this link to find hotel rooms available in the area:

While three-day passes to the Firefly Music Festival are sold out, single day passes are still available at a cost of $98 per day. If you are driving to the festival, there will be parking space available and a shuttle that runs to and from the parking lot to the main festival area.

For local residents interested in attending but not interested in driving to the festival, Greyhound bus services are available from Philadelphia directly to Dover. SEPTA regional rail lines offer transportation to Wilmington, from where Greyhound buses provide route to Dover. For more information, visit Greyhound’s website at: and SEPTA’s website at:

Another option for locals is Firefly’s Rock & Bus, a bus service that picks up concert-goers at locations all along the East Coast and drops off directly at the Festival. Information on the Rock & Bus can be found by following this link:

If planning to extend your time in Dover beyond the festival, Kent County offers museums, including the Biggs Museum of American Art and the Air Mobility Command Museum; art galleries; wineries; two casinos, the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and the Harrington Raceway & Casino; and free historical walking tours. Delaware’s beach resorts are not a far drive from the festival, offering a tranquil escape after the high-energy concerts. Details on local attractions can be found at: