WRITTEN BY: Jack O’Rourke
PHOTOS BY: Melissa Fera
For many music fans, late winter marks the start of festival lineup announcement season. This year more than ever, festival planners are receiving criticism for their lineups, due to a glaring lack of female artists on many of their lineups.
One of the many festivals under scrutiny is Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware; of their 95 artists set to play over their four-day festival, only 19 of them are women or have women in the group. Jersey-native, turned international pop-star, Halsey slammed the festival on Twitter for not including more female artists in their line-up, saying that there are “so many dope women in music right now.” One of those “dope women in music,” hidden in the middle of Firefly’s lineup is alternative-pop artist, Lights.
Leaving her mark on the music industry over her decade long career, Lights is admired for her willingness to take risks and push boundaries, which has earned her multiple Juno award nominations and a pair of victories. With the release of her fourth studio album, Skin&Earth, Lights once again delivered, but this time crafting a post-apocalyptic themed concept album. Lights has generated quite a bit of buzz for releasing a comic book series along with the album to bring its songs truly to life. Capitalizing on the buzz, Lights embarked on a world tour in support of her album in January.
Often known for having some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the business, the line for Lights stretched well down South Street long before the doors opened Sunday night. Returning to the TLA for yet another sold-out show, Lights captivated the crowd with her unrelenting energy and incredible vocal range.
Fresh off a tour in support of fellow female powerhouse, PVRIS, Lights started the set with a pair of songs from Skin&Earth. Lights quickly took command of the stage, belting out every last lyric of “New Fang,” eventually bringing her to her knees.
The Toronto native, then threw it back to her start, playing “Second Go” from her debut album, The Listening. The highlight of the first half of the set came when Lights asked the crowd if they wanted pizza, which prompted a roadie to walk on stage with a giant pizza box. Hidden inside the box was a keyboard, which Lights used to play the synthesizer electronic intro to “Toes.”
Halfway through the set, Lights left the stage leaving the audience in a state of confusion. A small drum kit and a piano with candles on top were rolled on stage. As the interlude of Skin&Earth played throughout the venue, the LED screen behind the stage played an animated version of her comic. Armed with an acoustic guitar, Lights returned to center stage to perform a three-song acoustic set along-side her band.
For the first song of the acoustic set, Lights took a request from a sign in the crowd and performed “Drive My Soul.” What followed was my favorite moment of the night. Inspired by a tattoo a fan was getting before the show, Lights played the emotional ballad, “Follow You Down” off Midnight Meteorites. Lights’ vocal prowess was on full display during the final song of the acoustic set, “Muscle Memory.” Lights went on one last long run, then had the crowd finish the last “Oooooos” as she exited the stage again. The crew then removed the piano and drums so that Lights could finish the set.
The last eight songs of the set were a perfect blend of old and new. For one of the more intimate tracks on Skin&Earth, Lights performed “Morphine” while sitting on the edge of the stage before interacting with fans along the barricade.
Lights ended the night playing the lead single for Skin&Earth, “Giants.” The song sent the crowd into a frenzy with every audience member screaming every word. The song has all the makings to be a radio hit that would feel much at home in the climax of a coming of age movie. Lights left the stage to thunderous applause, before the TLA erupted into one more song chants.
The unwavering support of her fans has taken Lights this far, so disappointing them was not an option. Lights and her band took the stage one final time, performing “We Were Here” and “Almost Had Me” to close out the night.
While this year’s music festival lineups would lead you to believe that the music industry is lacking in female talent, but that could not be further from the truth. As long as artists like Lights keep doing their thing, female artists will soon have their voices heard.
- New Fears
- Second Go
- Up We Go
Interlude: Skin & Earth
- Drive My Soul (Acoustic)
- Follow You Down (Acoustic)
- Muscle Memory (Acoustic)
- Same Sea
- Fight Club
- Running with the Boys
- We Were Here
- Almost Had Me