“This year’s festival has the best lineup yet,” Mo Pop Festival Co-Producer Daniel McGowan confirms. We agree- in fact, any music connoisseur would. From the announced schedule [see below for full line-up] the 2017 performances are music to our ears. On July 29th and 30th over 20 artists are scheduled to perform along the Detroit Riverfront including headliners Alt-J, Foster the People, Solange, Run the Jewels, Tyler the Creator and Pup– among many other emerging Michigan-based musicians.

Festival fans don’t anxiously anticipate for Mo Pop to return each year because they want to experience something familiar. As McGowan puts it, when asked to put the festival into one word, he describes simply as, “tastyriverlicious.” Over the past few years, it has evolved into much more than a music festival driven by feedback and evaluation. While exposing fans to ear-wormy riffs and explosive music are at the center of Mo Pop’s grand design, it has developed into a full-on celebration of creativity and ingenuity. Whether it be music, visual arts, games, crafts, technology or food and drink- it has something to offer everyone thirsty for new experiences.

Mo Pop’s move to Detroit’s West Riverfront Park from its previous location at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights occurred after Jason Rogalewski, his counterpart from AEG approached their team with the idea to relocate into the city proper. The festival now takes place on a 20-acre oasis next to the Detroit River encompassing the view of Canada, the Detroit skyline, the near constant river traffic, not to mention air traffic and the Ambassador Bridge.

Photography Credit, Joshua Handford

It’s not just the incredible headliners and the gorgeous backdrop that makes this festival special. “We’ve selected some of our favorite locals because the Detroit and Michigan music scene is bursting at the seams with talent…he explains. “In the next few years, watch out, the next wave of Detroit music is coming, and it’s going to be staggering.” Scheduled acts to perform are Michigan talents including Stef Chura (Detroit), Heaters (Grand Rapids), Humons (Detroit) and  Michigander (Kalamazoo).

The food and drinks are curated and celebrate the local artisans community as well. “We’ve spent a great deal of energy making sure the food and drink options are top notch.” Looking at the vendors scheduled to participate, it’s clear that McGowan means what he says. Whatever your mouth is drooling for, you’ll find it easily within the grounds. Along with about a dozen unique, flavor-blasting, fusion food trucks featuring Slows BBQ, Imperial, and the Rusted Crow will be there, pop-up restaurant style dining. And if pale ales are your style, keep your eyes peeled for Griffin Claw’s custom Mo Pop brew, described as “citrus-y, it’s just right.”  Read on as McGowan continues to explain more about the upcoming festival below.

How did you make the decision to move locations from Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights?

McGowan: When Rogalewski approached us about moving the festival, we looked at sites, discussed the concepts of the festival, and re-imagined some aspects. The event has something for everyone, and for the last three years it’s grown in every way imaginable. The arcade, craft vendors, games, and an interesting assortment of activities give people plenty of things to do beyond the music. It’s a fun weekend on the river.

Photography Credit, Joshua Handford

What is at the center of this festival, versus other festivals?

McGowan: Mo Pop’s location is really important. Being a short walk from the heart of the city, on an international waterway, and in a really flexible space give us a dynamic base to work from. We’re able to engage Detroiters to help with all aspects of the build-out and the personality of the festival- plus the site already has so much happening, you can sit there and find entertainment from the natural beauty that surrounds the area.

Why it important for you to include local talent? 

McGowan: We select some of our favorite locals, because we want the festival fans to see some of the incredible music coming out of the city and the state. There are serious-minded people, making some fantastic and challenging music.

Who is your favorite artist on the line-up this year?

McGowan: That’s a tough one. I’m a big Run the Jewels fans, I love Alt-J, Pup is incredible. Solange and Mondo Cozmo are sets that you cannot miss, but I’d have to keep it local, and say my favorite is Michigander. He has a really good thing going, and is incredible live.

Describe the vibe/atmosphere you strive to create with this event.

McGowan: Our goal is to create a safe, stimulating, environment that allows people to gather, meet new friends, be exposed to new ideas, and together we can have a good time. It’s a celebration of human creativity and ingenuity, whether that’s in music, visual art, food and drinks, crafts, technology; we’re proud to be in a position of organize an event like this. It’s an absolute pleasure to help enable people to do what they love.

What are you the most excited for by bringing this festival to Detroit?

The live music business is built on people, whether that’s musicians, fans, production people, promotion folks, everything we do depends on creative people making magic. We’re not manufacturing things. It’s the definition of the creative economy.

A computer or robot will never replace folks in this field. It’s human at all levels, but that also implies all the challenges people face, things like personality conflicts, sickness, feelings, addiction, health issues, you name it, they all come to bear during the planning and execution of an event like Mo Pop. Hundreds, thousands of hours go into the details; the name of the game [in creating a music festival] is creative problem-solving.



Featured Image Photography Credit, Joshua Handford. Words by Richard Forzano.