After weathering the storm of COVID’s 2020 lockdown and managing to drag off planning a 50,000-capacity pageant in simply 4 and a half months, nothing was going to cease Firefly Music Competition from making its grand, post-lockdown return in 2021 – even a literal lightning storm.
“Certain, it was a bit of bit muddy that first day. And it was powerful for everyone concerned. However to me, it was like we have been all attempting to carry reside music again and put this massive present on and I will be damned if something stops us!” vp and pageant director Stephanie Mezzano advised Pollstar about having to push Thursday’s opening to eight p.m., with some artists rescheduled to different levels that night.“The present should go on! And it did. And it felt unimaginable.”
Together with Billie Eilish’s triumphant headline set Thursday, the Sept. 23-26 lineup at The Woodlands of Dover Worldwide Speedway featured The Killers, Tame Impala, Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion and lots of extra.
Mezzano joined AEG Presents after the corporate purchased Crimson Frog Occasions’ shares of Firefly in 2018. She is among the co-founders of Firefly and beforehand served as president of operations for Crimson Frog. Mezzano spoke to Pollstar about shortly making the ’21 pageant occur, internet hosting Firefly’s first Satisfaction Parade and introducing the occasion to its latest tremendous fan.
Pollstar: You found Firefly’s residence in 2011. What initially related you to the area?
Stephanie Mezzano: We had been touring up and down the East Coast. On the time, it was a reasonably untapped marketplace for festivals. We went to most likely about 5 – 6 different venues. Our final go to was the Speedway. We spent most likely the primary 75% of the tour trying on the precise monitor itself and the infrastructure. Within the final perhaps half hour of our go to they have been like, “Come see our campgrounds.” We drove again to this space of unbelievably attractive, big bushes. When you’re in there, you do not see the rest. As quickly as we stepped in there, it was like, nicely that is it. That is what you need to really feel at a music pageant … utterly off the grid from the remainder of the world. …
Over the past, now it’s arising on 10 years, we’ve slowly been working with the property and placing a variety of funding into it … correct drainage and bathe services and issues like that, which have allowed us to develop the pageant into a very good location for a multi-day music pageant the place one thing like Thursday might occur the place you get a variety of rain.
What occurred with the rain?
It rained just about all day on Thursday, and we pushed again the gates to 7:30 p.m. – the present was alleged to open at 3 and it just about rained all evening. Our followers actually trooped it. There positively was some muss that first evening. However then Billie Eilish received on stage and it was like, who cares what occurred that day?! Everyone was there and everyone was in it. One of many coolest issues I observed is nobody had their telephones up. Often you go to a live performance, you see everyone’s telephones within the air. We’ve all spent two years connected to our telephones and on Zoom conferences as a result of that’s all we had. And everyone simply got here and put them of their pockets. They have been watching and residing within the second. And it was one thing I observed all weekend lengthy … it was like a bit of display screen sabbatical.
Firefly mechanically refunded 2020 tickets and so the pageant basically began promoting tickets from scratch for ’21. What was the planning course of like?
2021 was a giant query mark for a very long time for us. This occasion wasn’t truly launched till the center of Might. So, this was the quickest 12 months I’ve ever deliberate a music pageant. Our complete crew has by no means carried out something fairly prefer it. From the center of Might to the precise pageant weekend – so 4 and a half months.
(laughs) Yeah, it was a wild journey. … I must sleep for a few week. After which I’ll be able to plan ’22.
Inform me concerning the lineup.
We have been in a position to carry some  acts over, however many of the expertise was new. … I feel our followers actually related to the lineup. … We had a heavy quantity of females on the lineup … a heavy quantity of individuals of shade. We actually wished to focus this 12 months on making Firefly as inclusive as an occasion as we probably might.
Attendees had to supply both proof of a COVID vaccine or a unfavorable take a look at for entry. Apart from the COVID protocols, what else was new for ’21?
We did our first ever pleasure parade. That was on Sunday and we ran a pleasure parade from one stage by means of the pageant to the opposite. Simply the outpouring of affection and help and feelings was so highly effective. … We might really feel the emotional weight of how nice it was to rejoice our LGBTQ+ group at Firefly. It’s the primary time we did it and now simply looks like a everlasting a part of our present. We additionally did a drag brunch, which offered out in lower than an hour. And so we positively know we have to add extra drag brunches subsequent 12 months. It was a very cool a part of this portion of our occasion known as Supper Membership, the place we do these small, seated dinners and exhibits.
Have been you in a position to catch some units in the course of the pageant?
I am an enormous music fan, and so I positively snuck away each second that I might. I received to look at Sofi Tukker’s set, which was proper at sundown, and [Sophie Hawley-Weld] was sporting this attractive costume that regarded just like the solar was truly setting on her. It was a magical second. I received to see just about all of my favourite acts over the weekend. Additionally, I’m a brand new mother. I had a child in the course of the pandemic, so my 15-month-old was truly there. I received to indicate him across the present, which is the best factor. So, we made him an excellent fan from 12 months one.
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