The first day of the music festival in Detroit’s West Riverfront Park boasted summer sun, thousands of attendees and a diverse mix of acts, closing with the enigmatic, powerful Bon Iver. Review, photos, video., power
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Evening along the Detroit River. A full moon. Bon Iver. These are the only words needed to convey the gravity of Mo Pop’s conclusion Saturday night.
Mo Pop’s first day was greeted with comfortable, clear weather, ecstatic fans and spectacular performances, anchored by a dazzling, unprecedented set by Bon Iver. Early in the afternoon, S. Carey, Curtis Roach, Rex Orange County and Shortly performed for fast-growing crowds who ping-ponged between stages after each set.
Later on, Alvvays stepped onto the River Stage for an endearing set of lush indie-pop. Giant boats floated by in the background while the Canadian band grooved to dreamy songs like “Archie, Marry Me” and “Atop a Cake.”
Vince Staples followed with a fierce, ground-rattling set for a sea of devoted fans. The audience bobbed in unison, with many shouting every word of the charismatic rapper’s fiery performance and infectious beats.
Then, it felt as though everyone at the festival took a collective breath. Electricity seemed to ripple through the cool summer air. Every eye turned towards the Grande Stage.
DEEPLY INTENSE, WELCOMING ATTITUDE
Once the lights dimmed, the subtle twinkle of an arpeggiator began, signaling the start of “666 ʇ.” The five-piece band eased in with gentle layers, building carefully into the first verse. The moment Justin Vernon sang the song’s first line, the crowd erupted into cheers, expletives and longing sighs of emotion. The praise and applause seemed to never die down.
The band dropped into a full groove at the top of the second verse, conjuring a sonic maze of dual drum sets, bass, keys, guitar, saxophone, drum machines, and vocal processors. Following was a deeply intense rendition of “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” wrapped in venomous bass synth, distorted drum samples and a deft sense of urgency.
Other highlights from the set included “33 “GOD”,” which featured the most intense, provocative dual drumming of the night, and “715 – CR∑∑KS,” which saw Vernon backlit by a single purple spotlight, wielding only his own powerful voice and a vocal processor. Songs from Bon Iver’s self-titled album such as “Holocene,” and “Towers” saw brilliant live
Throughout the set, Vernon expressed his thankfulness for the crowd, the festival and Detroit, as well as his hope for everyone to feel safe and welcomed. Vernon ended the magical hour and a half set with a tender, crowd-inclusive encore of “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” as a full moon rose over the city.
Today, starting at 1:30 p.m., Empty Houses, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Jeff Rosenstock, Turnover, Brockhampton and St. Vincent play the River Stage. Starting at 2:50 p.m., Lovelytheband, Dermot Kennedy, Daniel Caesar, Portugal. The Man and The National play the Grande Stage. Set times below.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mo Pop Day 1
Photos by Joshua Hanford, Jacob Mulka, Alex Guy, Trevor Dernai and Anna Sink
VIDEO: Mo Pop Day 1 Highlights
Video by Anna Sink and Ricky Olmos
Copyright 2018, Spins on Music LLC