At this year’s Firefly Music Festival, MixRadio powered the fest’s best kept secret: The Treehouse Sessions. Tucked away in the Dover woods, the intimate stage hosted special performances by the likes of Broncho, Dizzy Wright, AWOLNATION and more between Friday and Sunday.
With the daily lineup getting announced day-of, festival-goers eagerly kept their eye on Twitter each morning as word of the private showcases spread through the grounds. Limited to just a few hundred tickets per session, the only way into the tree-covered stage was by winning through Firefly, the band or MixRadio themselves.
Bear Hands kicked off the weekend Friday afternoon, allowing fans refuge from the sun in a canopy of trees. The four-piece went completely acoustic, starting off their set with one of their newer singles, “Agora.” The crowd quickly got into it, clapping along to each song, and by the time the indie rockers played “Giants” not even the mud could stop anyone from dancing. Josh Noren also took the acoustic route. Equipped with nothing but a guitar, the singer-songwriter utilized the stage’s catwalk for an even more intimate performance and entranced the audience with his thoughtful brand of folk.
But not every band opted to unplug. AWOLNATION performed with electric keys, bass and guitar while drummer Isaac Carpenter kept the rhythm with maracas and various shakers. The alt-rockers began their set with a dreamy version of “Not Your Fault” before delving into other songs off their recently released sophomore album, Run. Known for their high-octane live performances, this was a calming change of pace as fans swayed to Aaron Bruno’s soft croons. “I wish I was Mick Jagger and could do some fancy moves down this catwalk,” Bruno admitted between songs. “Do it!” the crowd chanted, to which he promised, “Next year.” As the 30-minute set progressed, Bruno started getting in the zone, moving his arms to the beat as he sat on a stool and sang. The crowd mirrored his energy and began clapping and dancing along. “Thanks for the percussers,” he said with a smile and a chuckle before diving into a chilling, stripped down version of “Sail.”
Conversely Colony House played a fully plugged in set, using their Treehouse Session as an opportunity to win over people who may have been unfamiliar with their music. The indie rockers showcased songs off their debut album, When I Was Younger, and had no shame in full-on rocking out, to which the crowd responded by head banging and dancing along.
As the weekend progressed so did the buzz around the sessions. Bands like Dirty Heads, Citizen Cope and The Griswolds drew their loyal fan bases into the forest as they performed stripped down versions of fan favorites while others, like Broncho, decided to go a completely different route. Vocalist/guitarist Ryan Lindsey played fuzzy, solo renditions of “Stay Loose,” “Class Historian” and selections off the Oklahoman garage rock outfit’s two albums.
On Sunday, Dizzy Wright kicked off the last day of the Treehouse Sessions with a full-blown hip-hop set complete with DJ and posse. “Can you feel the good vibes?” he asked the crowd during his first song, and the resounding answer was “Yes” as smoke quickly began to billow up toward the trees and hands raised up in the air, as if trying to catch the plumes. He focused on selections off his recently released LP, the Growing Process, including “Floyd Money Mayweather” but didn’t forget his first single, “Solo Dolo,” for his old fans and brought out Demrick to perform “Clouds Above Us.” The high-energy was a change from the otherwise relaxing sets and a fantastic way to start off the final day.
Jeffrey James ended the weekend with a more mellow set, opting to play solo rather than with his full band. “If I had known the height difference between you guys and the stage I would have sat down,” he confessed right away. “I’m really sorry you’re all at crotch level.” After loosening up with banter, he switched to performer mode and awed the crowd with his emotive R&B-tinged tunes.
From explosive hip-hop to fuzzed out garage rock and mellow reggae, MixRadio’s Treehouse Sessions ran the genre gamut, making sure there was something for any kind of music lover. Photographer Luis Ruiz was there documenting the three-day event. Take a look at some of the best shots below.
Crowd at Dizzy Wright