Wilmington’s Eyebawl looks ahead despite initial Firefly cancellation

By Brooke Schultz
Posted 9/24/21

DOVER — It felt like a part of Wilmington-based band Eyebawl’s identity was taken away when live shows screeched to a halt during the pandemic, but Firefly Music Festival represented a …

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Wilmington’s Eyebawl looks ahead despite initial Firefly cancellation

Posted

DOVER — It felt like a part of Wilmington-based band Eyebawl’s identity was taken away when live shows screeched to a halt during the pandemic, but Firefly Music Festival represented a return to concerts, on the big and small scale in Delaware.

“It was like a weird limbo for a while,” said the garage punk band’s lead singer Erin Silva. “We’re all in other bands, too, and we’ve been playing for so many years that it’s a part of life. Having that taken away from us, it’s like a part of our identity just being taken away. It was just strange and didn’t feel great. So I mean, seeing it come back, honestly, it’s incredible.”

Drummer Brian Bruce agreed.

“I play in many different types of groups, so I’ve seen it come back online on large scale like this and then I also played, like, the Elkton (Maryland) Fall Festival to a bunch of little kids last weekend,” he said. “Watching it come back on that level is different, but also very special and fun.”

The band was slated to continue that streak in a big way Thursday by playing the opening day at Firefly, but rain and flood advisories pushed gate times back and truncated original set times and canceled others. The initial cancellation turned into more of a postponement: Eyebawl is set to take Firefly Stage at 12:50 p.m. Sunday.

But even without a set Thursday, Ms. Silva said Friday the invitation to play was affirming.

“You’re like, wow, OK, to be offered something like that makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing,” she said.

And it has brought an added audience to the band. Through Instagram, people reached out to say they were looking forward to seeing their set.

“It feels good to grow the audience,” she said.

“Beside just our friends in the basement,” bass guitarist Jillian Willis added.

If you’ve ever wondered how one is invited to play Firefly, for Ms. Silva, it started with an Instagram direct message.

“I did not think it was real,” she said. “I was like, ‘There’s no way that this is real.’”

She responded to the DM and asked that they send her an email and a contract, and they did.

“So I was like, ‘I guess this is real,’” she said. Even still, it didn’t feel like it, she added.

“I was still like, ‘I’m not going to believe until I get there,’ and I’m here so at this point I believe that, even though we didn’t get to play,” she said Friday.

Eyebawl, founded by Ms. Silva, began in 2015 as a solo project. The band released its debut five-track EP “Gutterbawl” in 2018. Crafted Sounds, an indie label, described the initial release as digging “into the tragedy of young adulthood and speaks of events that took Erin over 10 years to process.”

The band’s second EP, “Never Again,” released in 2019 “expanded upon the aggressive garage punk energy that was exerted in their previous recordings, and looked onward to a new era of the band.”

A third EP — “Eyebawl Remixed” — is slated for release in the next few months, Ms. Silva said. The EP lives up to its name: it’ll reimagine previously released tracks, she said.

Over quarantine, Mr. Bruce began using music programming software just on his own. That turned into “Eyebawl Remixed,” he said.

“I programmed stuff like a backing track for us. And then we recorded over it live with just guitars and vocals and stuff and it went so well, that we’re going to keep those tracks and turn them into our next EP,” he said.

The band’s current lineup features Ms. Silva and Mr. Bruce. After the original bassist left, right before COVID-19 hit, Ms. Silva asked fellow Delawareans Ms. Willis and Andrew Benenati, guitar, to join after they were offered the Firefly gig.

Though they didn’t get to play, they did get to see the music when it kicked off after gates opened at 7:30 Thursday. They highlighted Mongolian rock band, The Hu, as a highlight.

Meanwhile, playing locally, like at Wilmington favorite Oddity Bar, it’s been nice to see faces out again, Mr. Bruce said.

“Seeing other bands and friends that we haven’t seen in a long time,” Ms. Willis said. “It’s one of those little communities that you don’t realize how much you don’t see certain people when there’s not shows happening.”

The band has two upcoming shows. On Oct. 2, they’ll play alongside several other bands at Maker’s Alley in Wilmington. On Halloween, they’re set for a show in Philadelphia.

“It’s always great to get a new fan from like a show right there,” Mr. Bruce said. “But then when you go to a show and someone’s heard of you before from a different area, it makes you feel good because you put in a lot of work to get that person in. There’s so much work behind that. So it feels like it’s working and you’re doing the right thing.”

This story was updated to reflect that the band will now play Sunday on the Firefly stage at 12:50 p.m.