After a two year pandemic hiatus, the Mo Pop Festival made a triumphant return to Detroit last weekend. Despite the new location in Hart Plaza, the festival once again dazzled the city with excellent music, food, and art, making for a electric weekend in the heat for its over 15,000 attendees.
Featuring a pleasant mix of pop, hip-hop and indie rock, Mo Pop had a little something for everybody. Both days opened with back-to-back performances from Detroit local artists, setting a high bar for the rest of the day's acts. Notably, local rapper Tiny Jag shocked the crowd by receiving a tattoo onstage while performing.
Despite having some of the biggest names in music on its lineup, the best part of the festival was its new and emerging artists. Fresh off their debut album, U.K. band Wet Leg took Hart Plaza by storm with their contagious stage presence, flirty and fun lyrics, and catchy guitar riffs. On the same stage the next day, Detroit rapper whiterosemoxie delivered a hard-hitting and melodic hip-hop set which had every single person in the crowd with their hands up. Meanwhile No matter who they came for, festivalgoers left as fans of many more artists they had never heard of before Saturday.
Outside of the two main stages, there were many other places for people to explore while in between sets. Fans could eat at the Shipyard, a collection of "Mo Pop-Up" restaurants on festival grounds, or they could choose from a wide variety of food trucks scattered throughout the park serving anything from elephant ears to fried chicken. After hitting the Mo Arcade and playing some games, or hitting the Haute-est non-stop dance party with Haute to Death, fans could shop at the Craft Bazaar which hosted a variety of local artists and businesses.
To close the festival, Detroit's very own Big Sean performed his first full-length concert in the area in nearly five years, filled with many special moments surrounding his life, family and city. His set was filled with all the highlights of his 15+ year career, with crowd pleasers such as "Mercy" and "Blessings" in addition to
deep cuts from his early mixtapes. Shortly after her previous appearance on the Grande Stage, Jhene Aiko returned to support her boyfriend and the father of her child through two duets. The rapper also brought out his mom, dad, and older brother to pay tribute to his grandmother, one of the first black female captains to serve. Later on Instagram, he recalled "Thank you, it feels good being home" after the show.
Whether it be on or off the stage, the rest of the festival was filled with many highlights for festivalgoers to enjoy. Houston funk band Khruangin entranced the audience with wild instrumentals that were impossible not to dance to featuring iconic riffs throughout music history anywhere from Elton John to MF DOOM. When the power turned off in the middle of their set, they kept playing the drums and commanded the audience using bottles found on stage to hit and keep the party going until the power came back. The Backseat Lovers, who we had the pleasure to interview after their set, shook the audience to its core with their electric summer jams. Some fans waited over 5 hours to see musician turned actor Dominic Fike, who delivered an explosive set with hits like "Babydoll", "3 Nights", and a striking cover of the Neon Trees' "Everybody Talks". Singer/Songwriter/Artist Extraordinaire DAISY WORLD performed her first ever solo show here on the Eastown Stage, digging into unreleased music and delivering a personal and enjoyable set. Other musical highlights throughout the festival include Girl in Red, Dayglow, Mariah the Scientist, Ashe, and Saturday night's headliner, Glass Animals, who took the Grande Stage once again to deliver an amazing closing show six years after their first Mo Pop performance.
Despite the summer heat, venue change, and long hiatus, Mo Pop delivered on all fronts. We are looking forward to seeing the festival grow in it's new home on the water in Hart Plaza.