CINCINNATI — Indie rock giants The National returned to their stomping grounds to host the inaugural two-day Homecoming music festival this weekend at Smale Park with Feist, Big Thief, Father John Misty as well as other emerging rock and alternative artists.
Along with Wilco, Bon Iver and The Decemberists, The National is part of a growing wave of indie rock artists who are curating their own music festivals for fans. It’s a way to provide music lovers with a more intimate experience in comparison to the larger likes of Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Homecoming truly felt like The National had returned to their roots with two special performances each night. Saturday’s set featured selections from “Sleep Well Beast,” “Trouble Will Find Me,” “High Violet” and “Alligator.” Sunday’s set featured 2007’s “Boxer” in its entirety and the debut of the band’s newest song, “Light Years.”
Bryce and Aaron Dessner also treated fans to a special performance at the Cincinnati Masonic Center Friday night to demonstrate their guitar prowess as part of Red Bird Hollow and celebrate the release of German electronic duo Mouse on Mars’ latest album, “Dimensional People.”
Lisa Hannigan, Spank Rock, Sam Amidon and Kristin Anna joined the Dessner twins and Mouse on Mars to kick off the first night of the festival.
Fans also enjoyed riveting performances by Lord Huron, Julien Baker, Future Islands, Moses Sumney, Alvvays and other talented artists.
A blend of Motor City sunshine, art and music formed a new creative and collaborative vibe during the inaugural Detroit LIVE at the Heidelberg.
That vibe pulsated throughout Heidelberg Street as more than 2,000 attendees enjoyed family, friends, festivities, food and fun at the free Aug. 26 block party near the city’s iconic art installation.
“This Detroit LIVE event at the Heidelberg is a collaboration,” said Jenenne Whitfield, CEO for The Heidelberg Project. “It’s a celebration of all the cultures in the city of Detroit and of all the grassroots initiatives. I want a party in the middle of the street. I want to show Detroit how it’s really done.”
Donna Kassab, POWER Entertainment owner and Detroit LIVE creator, joined Whitfield to reflect on the event’s strong creative community.
“Everyone’s here to celebrate each other as well as music and art,” she said. “Let’s have some fun.”
Nine artists continued to spread that vibe musically as they showcased Detroit’s best hip-hop, techno, R&B, classical and indie rock before curious and engaged attendees.
Together, they’ll showcase emerging and established hip-hop, techno and other music during the free block party hosted by POWER Entertainment and The Heidelberg Project.
From noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at 3600 Heidelberg St. in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt community, attendees will hear seven other rising musical acts as part of the Detroit LIVE. There also will be an open mic session for other performers interested in demonstrating their talents.
“We want to build a sense of community while featuring Detroit talent and celebrating The Heidelberg Project’s 30th anniversary,” said Donna Kassab, a POWER Entertainment owner and Detroit LIVE creator.
Kassab is hosting the event in conjunction with Jenenne Whitfield, CEO of The Heidelberg Project, near the city’s iconic outdoor art installation. Detroit LIVE is part of Thirty Months of Heidelberg, a series of special programming in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of The Heidelberg Project.
“The Heidelberg Project is one of the most visited cultural destinations in Detroit, so we wanted to bring a lot of people together around art to build a sense of community,” Kassab said. “Detroit LIVE is all about the spirit of collaboration through arts and entertainment.”
Mo Pop festivalgoers received a delicious second helping of emerging alternative music at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park on July 30.
They sank their musical teeth into the sounds of Michigan-based acts Heaters and Stef Chura. Hailing from Grand Rapids, Mich., Heaters divvied up their psychedelic sound for Mo Pop’s early arrivals and played tracks from their latest release, “Baptistina.”
Detroit’s Chura grabbed the Michigan musical torch from Heaters and shared her ‘90s-inspired lo-fi sounds from her debut album, “Messes.” Her signature garage rock resonated with Mo Poppers as they snacked on the best local musical cuisine.
Over on the Grande Stage, Louisville, Ky.’s White Reaper played garage punk and power pop from “The World’s Best American Band,” including “Judy French” and “Little Silver Cross.” Bassist Sam Wilkerson recognized his brother, drummer Nick Wilkerson, during the band’s Mo Pop set.
Saturday served up the perfect dish of music, weather and crowds for day one at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival.
The festival included a delectable sampling of 11 emerging alt rock, indie pop and hip-hop acts at West Riverfront Park on a dry, bright summer day.
To kickoff day one, Michigan-based acts Humons and Michigander provided tasty summer electronic and pop entrees to early arrivals.
As Humons, Detroit producer Ardalan Sedghi performed dream house tracks from “Spectra,” his five-song EP, and briefly transformed the park into a mini outdoor daytime dance hall for festivalgoers – the ideal way to start any Motor City music festival.
Humons’ dance club was quickly transformed into an intimate rock club when Kalamazoo’s Michigander took the Captain Pabst Stage for his set. Led by Kalamazoo-based Jason Singer, Michigander eagerly welcomed fans with several musical indie pop gems, including “5 a.m.” and “Nineties.”
The hottest alt rock and hip-hop acts will perform at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park July 29-30 for the fifth annual Mo Pop Festival.
Other notable artists will include a few Michigan-based acts – Heaters, Stef Chura, Humons and Michigander – along with emerging artists Jay Som, Mondo Cozmo, Waaves, Middle Kids, Vance Joy and Arkells. The full lineup is listed below.
With the Detroit skyline, Windsor, Ontario cityscape and local riverfront serving the festival’s premier backdrop, this is the third year Mo Pop has called the Motor City home.
In 2013 and 2014, the former one-day festival took place at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre (now the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre) in Sterling Heights, Mich. Mo Pop expanded to a two-day event in 2015 when festival organizers decided to move it to downtown Detroit.