The opening day of the 2019 festival in West Riverfront Park blessed thousands of attendees with sunny weather and a cavalcade of pop, hip hop and indie-rock. Highlights, photo gallery.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
With temperatures in the high 80s, an uber-youthful spirit filled the air and echoed into downtown Detroit and along the river all day Saturday for the seventh installment of Mo Pop Festival.
With the iconic Ambassador Bridge off in the distance, the pop music festival’s home of West Riverfront Park serves as a sort of oasis from an aging part of town, especially when filled with music from the likes of Vampire Weekend, Lizzo, J.I.D, King Princess, Alec Benjamin, Wallows, Snail Mail, Roy Blair and The Band Camino.
Rounding out Saturday’s lineup were Michigan acts Siena Liggins and The Messenger Birds.
Thousands of wildly dressed attendees –from hip-hop fans to indy-rock die hards and even casual festival goers – enjoyed an almost completely sunny day of music.
Mo Pop’s opening day was full of moments to marvel at. Here are some highlights:
• Vampire Weekend – This year’s “Father of the Bride” marks Vampire Weekend’s first release in six years. Much of that expansive, genre-bending double-album made its way into the band’s headlining Mo Pop set (and its first Michigan performance in five years). The audience seemed as familiar with those anthems, such as “Harmony Hall” and “This Life,” as it did with the band’s 2007 breakout hit, “A-Punk.” In a way that felt reminiscent of a jam band, Koenig and company extended almost every song, basking in the vibe of thousands of fans amid the Detroit skyline and often highlighting the mind-blowing skill of guitarist Brian Robert Jones. Most notably, the always funky “Sunflower” was tripled in length to give the song’s dizzyingly catchy guitar hook the attention it deserves.
• Lizzo – Most of the buzz about Mo Pop’s opening day seemed to surround Lizzo. Fans flocked to the second stage to witness an absolute powerhouse performance by the Detroit-born singer/rapper. With family in attendance at her biggest home state show to date, Lizzo and a handful of dancer/backing vocalists hit the stage in matching pink outfits and delivered an explosion of positivity. The whole set was a celebration of self-confidence, filled with impressive vocal runs, intense dancing and quick covers of classics such as Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Yes, the entire light show was pink, too.
• Alec Benjamin – A brief downpour of rain slowed folks down for a few moments early in the day, but singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin’s acoustic-driven pop accompanied the return of the sun. Benjamin rose to prominence in with the chart-climbing single “Let Me Down Slowly” and a string of fan favorite songs from his 2018 mixtape “Narrated for You.” There were certainly screams of joy from the younger contingent of the audience, but those less familiar with Benjamin seemed equally captivated by his boyish charm. Benjamin’s set also included a surprising cover of Eminem’s “Stan.”
• J.I.D – No band. No hype men. No fancy production. All Atlanta rapper J.I.D needed was a DJ and a microphone to seriously stir up the crowd in the middle of the day. J.I.D was one of many Mo Pop performers whose set felt like a celebration of very recent success. The rapper made sure to boast the Billboard chart success and critical acclaim of his new album, “DiCaprio 2,” all before starting mosh pit worthy of a hardcore metal show. It was epic.
• Arcade – A light breeze off the river kept most folks cool throughout the day, but with the temperature closing in on 90 degrees, many found Mo Pop’s air-conditioned arcade to be an escape from an escape. Instagram photo opportunists: Eat your hearts out. Packed with classic pinball and arcade games, the chilly tent provided just the right respite from the summer sun and a heavy dose of nostalgia.
Mo Pop continues Sunday with Tame Impala’s first Michigan appearance in more than four years, as well as performances by Ella Mai, Kali Uchis, The Story So Far and more.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mo Pop Festival 2019
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC