The 2015 Firefly Music Festival is in full swing, but a few lucky fans were treated to a little something extra yesterday. Music lovers gathered in a peaceful forrest clearing to experience exclusive acoustic sets by AWOLNATION, Bear Hands, Josh Noren and Colony House as part of MixRadio’s Treehouse Sessions.
The series offers fans the chance to experience up-and-coming artists in the most personal way possible, while in the midst of a gorgeous natural setting. Picture it: You’re gathered out in a picturesque forrest with a small wooden stage, a few dozen fellow music-lovers, and your favorite band? It doesn’t get much more intimate than that!
First up were the awesomely-named Bear Hands, who initially seemed at odds with the uber-rustic setting in their official hipster festival uniform of vintage tees, backwards caps, torn skinny-jeans and neon Ray-Bans. But as soon they kickstarted their spacey-acoustic sound, it felt like they were conjuring mystical spirits to the clearing. They opened with a stripped-down “Angora,” the second single from their second album, 2014’s Distraction. They followed it up with “Sleeping On The Floor,” “Vile Iowa,” and “Thought Wrong” before wrapping up their mini-set with a quieter version of the raucous “Giants.” They insisted it would be louder when they played the Porch Stage later that afternoon. Spoiler alert: it was. A + band, A + pun in their name.
AWOLNATION were next, valiantly holding their own against the thumping rock from a distant stage drifting through the trees. Lead-singer Aaron (AWOL) Bruno commanded the stage like a low-key Mick Jagger while never leaving his stool, showcasing his versatile vocal prowess on “Not Your Fault” and “Windows.” Known for their rocky edge, the group were surprisingly (and refreshingly) gentle during this pastoral retreat. More like a back yard than a stadium, the band conversed with the crowd, and even wished a happy birthday to a dude in the front row. They closed it down with “Sail,” their 2011 Top 10 6x-Platinum hit, with the audience of new friends swaying in unison.
Josh Noren came as a very welcomed special surprise. New to the festival, the singer-songwriter made his Firefly debut on Thursday, and his deeply personal acoustic songs were a perfect fit for the cozy scene. He transformed the space into a campfire sing-along by getting the crowd the sing (and snap) to his tunes. Appropriately, he paid tribute to headliner Paul McCartney by segueing his own “Waiting” into the soaring finale of “Hey Jude.”
As the day’s Treehouse Sessions wound to a close, Nashville-bred indie trio Colony House rocked out with a spirited collection of cuts, including their barnstorming “Silhouettes.” The band is currently in the midst of their “Tour De Compadres” tour alongside Needtobreathe, Ben Rector, and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.