Detroit’s annual Mo Pop Festival has charmed Michigan summers for four years in a row now by granting music enthusiasts a chance to celebrate the presence of their favorite artists, accompanied by an abundance of food trucks, art installations, local shop booths, and of course, the beautiful Detroit River. Taking place alongside the Detroit Riverfront, nearly 7,000 fans attended the two day event of twenty-two live performances from mainstays in various genres from pop, alternative, rap, hip hop, and all that’s in between. Highlighted by Foster the People, alt-J, Tyler the Creator, Run The Jewels, Solange and numerous others, this year’s Mo Pop Festival was an outstanding success.
Day 1 began just as the sun had reached it’s highest point. Gates opened at 1:00 PM, and all who entered were left to explore Mo Pop’s corky accessories before the performances would begin. Henna tattoos, merchandise, food trucks of all kinds, and even custom made flower crowns helped bring the festival to life. The attendees of Mo Pop had no fear of the cloudless sky, and did not let it stop them from from getting a shoulder-to-shoulder kind of closeness with one another as they gathered tightly to form a riot of a crowd.
With only 2 stages and a strategically staggered setlists, it was easy for attendees to catch California dream pop group, Jay Som, at the Grande Stage, and head directly over to Captain Pabst just in time for the young and colorful Grace Mitchell, who just might live by the mantra “Girls just wanna have fun.”
While the energy may be high, the sun can be quite draining. When the evening hit and the rising dust was visible in the air, attendees made the perusing decision to either lay out a blanket in the open grass and relax, or take part in chanting every word to hip hop supergroup, Run The Jewels, or parade around in the liberating mosh pit for punk band Wavves, but just like the ocean, with Wavves comes surfers. Even lead vocalist, Nathan Williams, always makes the effort to surf his own crowd. Fearlessly, his Detroit fans were born ready for him to set sail.
New York’s electronica psych pop duo, Phantogram, echoed their rhythmic sound with stellar keyboards and eccentric guitar. Sarah Barthel and Josh carter’s well polished dreamy act was, as expected, quite the crowd pleaser.
Some fans stood their ground early and stayed put from the beginning to gain a front row experience for headliner, Foster The People who closed the show in a wildly exciting way. The title of their most recent album ‘Sacred Hearts Club’ hung in massive letters across the stage accented with neon colors of red, blue and green that radiated the moonlit night. Mark Foster treated his dedicated and faithful fans to the band’s newest tracks which released only 8 days prior, and hit singles everyone can groove to such as ‘Pumped Up Kicks.’ Foster ended the night by reminding fans how grateful he is for their love, and thanked them as the band tossed guitar picks, drum sticks, and setlists to the audience which had more stars in their eyes than there was in the sky. People walked away in awe of the perfect end to the eventful day, and eager for day two of Mo Pop Festival.
Just when you thought Saturday was hot, Sunday got hotter. But the sun wasn’t the only thing making the people sweat.
White Reaper, a Kentucky born garage-punk band that left everyone remembering their name. With Tony Esposito as the lead singer, attendees trekked their way towards the band to uncover the face that those enthralling vocals belong to. Sam Wilkerson was hard to look away from as he took full advantage of the extensive space on stage and shredded his guitar like it was the last time he’d ever be able to play. The band delighted the crowd in between tracks with their southern charm and playful jokes.
First time in Detroit, Middle Kids, an indie/alternative band brought an array of smiles to the faces of those who had waited too long for their favorite Australian band to travel to the United States.
Vance Joy, another much-loved Australian, had an enchanting performance. Lost in the presence of his soothing acoustics and friendly voice, fans couldn’t help but close their eyes and sway as they sang along to ‘Mess Is Mine’ and ‘Georgia.’
Tyler, The Creator was a show nobody wanted to miss. The moment he stepped foot to the stage, fans threw themselves as close as they could make it to the front as if he were magnetic. Tyler began the performance by demanding the crowd, with a smirk on his face, “get all your picture taking over with now, because this is real life,” and his fans obeyed his wishes. As he began rapping old favorites and new favorites, fans lost a sense of self control and jumped lawlessly into one another without a single care. Dust and sweat everywhere you turned. The moment the show ended and Tyler said his goodbyes, the crowd stood still in puzzlement for a moment, as it was back to reality.
Highlights of orange reflected off the river as the sun set on the water –just in time to aim the spotlight on the pop R&B goddess Solange. With an ambience of fire and soul, details of a bold cherry red were found in every detail of her act. Faces of the crowd could not help but twirl and snap their fingers along as the woman in red mesmerized her admirers.
The moon had finally taken place of the daylight, but Mo Pop just wasn’t ready to wrap things up quite yet. When gleaming hues of vitality dazed off the platforms, it was time for Alt-J to serve as the festival’s grand finale. Everyone attendee who remained had clustered around the Grande Stage and gazed at the British indie rock band. The unconventional group of three stood sophisticatedly in the limelight and profoundly gazed into the army ahead of them. White lights flashed, and heads turned at every transition. alt-J brought Detroit a hypnotizing escapade of a show. The people of Mo Pop turned into a sea of contentment and pure joy as the hot and dusky weekend was winding up hand and hand with a strikingly unforgettable performance.