“I’m so ready for this,” The Flood said. I took a look at him and smiled. I was, once again, standing shirtless and cooking pancake after pancake for my dirty, hungover brethren. It was Friday morning. The previous night’s excursions were barely a taste of the next three days to come.
This was my third excursion to the dirt, sun, and booze-laden exhaust-a-thon that was Firefly Music Festival. I clapped my hand on the Flood’s shoulder.
“Take this then,” I said, and handed him a golden-brown pancake. “Who wants the next one?!” I asked to everyone in general. Several hands shot up into the air.
“I’ll take one!” Sweet T exclaimed and the Peace Frog exclaimed simultaneously. I handed them both a plate and poured some more batter onto the griddle.
“Cristos, how’s that coffee coming?” I asked my brother as he boiled water in a small pot on the next burner.
“Boiling,” he grunted.
I left the burner for a second to grab a beer from the cooler. Pabst, as usual. Some habits never seem to leave you, no matter where you are. Music festivals are among seldom few places on earth where you can crack a beer at 8:47am and not one single person will bat an eye, cast judgment, or scowl at your life decisions. I cracked the beer and began to dri-
“OOOOHAHHHHH” the crowd replied.
“Fighter of the Night Man!”
“Defender of the sun! A master of karate and friendship for everyone, DAY MAN!”
Portugal. The Man was playing a version of “Day Man” that had the audience roaring in surprise and singing in unison. Their songs blended and changed shape and form, bleeding into one another without pause between one song’s ending and another’s beginning. I had been singing so hard that I’d completely blown out my voice. It was now almost impossible to talk without palpable, relentless pain. It was just after 6pm on Friday night. I had to keep track of the time and date, lest I become lost in the throng of people and time. Hadn’t I been cooking pancakes in the morning sun just a few minutes ago? Where had the time gone?
I found myself walking among a small group with fierce intensity to the Backyard Stage for the first of several late-night EDM sets. First up, Girl Talk. It was 11:45pm and we were edging our way closer to the throng of late night revelers.
“This is what all those monthly parties have been training me for,” I said to Sweet T, “I was born for this moment.”
“Use your training, use it wisely, because I have a feeling we are going to be dancing for a longgggg time tonight,”
Considering Sweet T and I were missing June’s monthly party to be here, I danced a little harder just for the rest of the TD2BD crew. I know they would have wanted it that way. Girl Talk would keep the incessant need to dance slated for another month for Sweet T and me, but the night wasn’t over yet. There was still plenty of drinking and dancing to be done.
“WAKE UP FOOL!” Cristos yelled.
“Wha- what? Time’zit?”
“It’s almost 8am brother. What the fuck you doin’ in this chair still?”
“Woke up… tent a sauna… almost pissed pants. Bladder relieved in bushes. Sleep now.” There were several other tired and worn out campers seated around me. There were no pancakes this morning. Everyone looked haggard and dead but I knew for a fact that come afternoon every one of us would be awake and smiling with no memory of any aches and pains from this morning.
Time had jumped again. Grouplove was playing to a crowd that I was collectively losing my voice with all over again. The daily schedule led me to determine it was late afternoon on Saturday. The sun was milder today than yesterday. At my current location in time and space, I seemed to still be devoid of sunburn. I may have been slipping through time but at least I was protecting my skin. The day felt odd, like I was watching it through rosy glass. I was enjoying myself, perhaps, a little too much.
I went to go get a beer to anchor myself a little bi-
“I’m gunna kill you if you don’t shut the fuck up out there!” I said half-jokingly to those at our campsite who were still wide awake. They quieted. It was almost 6am. I had been up for almost an entire day; a long and tiring day. It seemed like a lifetime ago that we’d been watching Beck perform Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean under a low-hanging moon, but it had been less than twelve hours ago. If I didn’t get some sleep soon, I wouldn’t get any at all. I’d be awake by 7:30 at the latest anyway. I just needed a few hours in order to-
“WOO! Who wants some hooch?! We got plenty left!” Sweet T yelled as we packed up our campsite. It was Sunday, roughly 3pm. My cell phone had long since died and timekeeping had become impossible. The weekend was almost over. I was slightly drunk. Sweet T was visibly drunk and, like several other campers, had without any sleep at all the previous night. With all but our canopies and chairs packed up we started downing any beer and hard liquor we had left. There were even a few bags that needed to be slapped a few more times in order to create space in the steadily emptying coolers. Here I was, drinking slapped Franzia out of a loose bag which Sweet T was currently holding over my head.
Fuck, it was nighttime. Jack Johnson was on the main stage closing out the headlining acts in front of tens of thousands of people. The summer sun held strong in the west as the moon fought for purchase in the night sky. We were walking away. It was time to go already. I could barely remember anything at this point, all memory of the last four days mashed and mangled together. I was sad to go. As we walked under the lights and darkening sky, already all I could think was “I can’t wait till next year”.
The Bottom Line
The issues that presented themselves in Firefly’s sophomore year were corrected in full force this year. Traffic was minimal (compared to last year). There was more water, and an abundance of clean, portable bathrooms. The weekend was extended an extra day for added adventure and fun. For me, Firefly Music Festival is a place where a person can go and shed their everyday-skin. A place where you can purge all the worries and strife of your normal life, where the mundane is forgotten and all else seems distant and unimportant. Thousands of lives intertwined under the same dusty swatch of sky for four days straight. You become family, a welcome guest to every stranger you meet while camped under the stars at the Woodlands. When the weekend is over it feels like it almost never happened at all. It becomes hard to remember, an event slowly pieced together through chopped up memories, cell-phone photos, YouTube videos, and Facebook statuses. It is an oasis in a desert of normalcy, a memory of a dream upon waking.