Of all the music festivals I’ve been able to attend in my life, MoPop is by far one of the most interesting. More than just a music festival, it is an interesting exhibition of a cross-section of Detroit’s various subcultures, as well as a large slice of pop culture to boot.
MoPop is truly a unique festival in its own right, and quite possibly the perfect initiation into multi-day City festivals. I'd never been to one, but I think this is one that everybody should check out, if only for one day!
Here is a brief list of highlights from the weekend.
Detroit’s famous West Riverfront Park was a great pick for a location to have this festival. Sitting along the Detroit River in the shadow of the skyscrapers and the Ambassador Bridge with Windsor clear across the other side, it made for a very nice overall atmosphere, albeit rather surreal, with another country just on the other side. In stark contrast to the bustling Detroit side of the river, there appeared to be very little activity at all on the other side.
The crowd had nothing but smiles and good attitudes all around - everywhere, people were laughing, talking, and playing games with each other. Not a single person appeared to be having a bad time. There were lots of people, but it never felt overly crowded. The festival was very well-organized, and at times, security and staff appeared to be enjoying the festival just as much as the crowd was.
One of the most eclectic lineups ever conceived on the festival circuit, MoPop could almost be considered Lollapalooza Lite. The lineup included beach punk, rap, electronic rock, indie, soul, and more. There was truly something for everybody to enjoy on the lineup, or something for everybody to discover.
Run the Jewels was one of the best sets of the weekend. Few people can get a crowd hyped like Killer Mike can - mosh pits and crowd surfers were commonplace for their heavily bass-driven rap show. Known for their activism in political matters, they took a minute to speak with the crowd, but in a classy and tasteful way - we all knew exactly what they meant, but they never mentioned the names of anyone in office. Instead, they said things like, “If you are here, then you are NOT one of the people who just sits in front of their TV and swallows whatever is in front of them.”
Following Run the Jewels were New York-based Electronic Rock band Phantogram, who are infamous on the festival circuit for their diverse blend of dreamy electronic rock and atmospheric trip hop into a sound that’s hard to define. “Welcome to the sunset...set,” vocalist Sarah Barthel greeted the crowd. “This is the time when all music festivals start to change, and we are honored to be that band tonight.”Indeed, the further down the sun went, the more impressive their display became. Accompanied by bizarre kaleidoscopic visuals and images of jellyfish, the band was in full swing with their sound that has made them a festival staple. Despite apologies for having a strain on her voice, Barthel and vocalist Josh Carter sounded just as good as they did on record, as well as the rest of the band. Despite being a completely different style than Run the Jewels, it was an excellent choice to make the transition into Night One.