Father John Misty, Raury & M83 Keep Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival Interesting (SHOW REVIEW)

Now in its second year in Detroit and in similar fashion, Mo Pop faced a chance of heavy delays on the last day of the festival. The tumultuous forecasted thunderstorms on Sunday only mildly stopped the start of the festivities for a half an hour, luckily hitting earlier than anticipated.  The fest on the riverfront had a some top headliners on Sunday– M83, Matt and Kim, Father John Misty, Shakey Graves and Mac DeMarco were highly anticipated. The mostly indie and folk festival geared to close the two day festival with a bang as M83’s dream pop light show were set to finish things off.

Mo Pop’s greatest advantage is its small, intimate feeling that percolates as the day wears on. Allowing the space between the crowd and artist performing to disappear. With only two stages and a limited lineup, the back and forth between each set at the Fender and Grande Stage was seamless. Starting the day off were The Greeting Committee, whose energetic indie, even parts jazz and soul effort was full of youthful exuberance. Immediately after, another upstart showcase came from Lewis Del Mar. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, the duo managed to incorporate their experimental indie folk with conviction riding on their pop dynamic. Singer and guitarist Danny Miller let his presence known as he vigorously performed along each track, closing out with their single “Loud(y)” to what had become a sizable crowd this early in the day.

If Lewis Del Mar were beginning to ramp things up a bit, it was Raury who really showed what he was intending to do. Entering the Fender Stage with clear conviction and purpose, his opening “Superfly” track demanded attention as his own blends of world, folk, hip-hop and R & B beats garnered a lot of crowd participation. For those not familiar with the young Atlanta songwriter at the festival, he indeed piqued many people’s interests as his softer folky cuts were just full of strength and passion as his more rap-oriented structures. This hybrid fit well after Lewis Del Mar and gave two surprising highlights early Sunday afternoon.

The more straightforward folk, country, and pop approaches from artists like Kaleo, Banners, Shakey Graves, and Mac DeMarco felt a  bit timid without much differing features in what was becoming a hot midday nearing temperatures of 90 degrees. Unfortunately, one of the best performances of the day by Nothing But Thieves was cut short due to the festival administrators attempting to catch up to the initial schedule. The British group’s lively and soulful pop was driven by vocalist Connor Mason’s extremely high vocal range, which garnered many cheers from the festival goers. Visibly upset with the issues affecting their time on stage, Mason graciously thanked those kind of enough to listen.

What was probably was the most intimate set of the entire day went to Father John Misty. His somber tones and cynical lyricism arranged beautifully for those eager to see him prop up a stool and played acoustic guitar without a backing band to those in attendance. Of course, there was some air he needed to clear based on his previous criticisms of his performance at the Newport Folk Festival. Discussing the context of entertainment and having perspective on what is going on the political world today he stated: “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. But if it allows me to talk about the world today I’ll be the most pretentious douchebag if it allows me to do this.”

In what followed Father John Misty was inexplicably the most rampant and juvenile power pop performance of the day coming from no other than Matt and Kim. Despite many audio issues coming from the Grande Stage during their time on, both Matt and Kim in hilarious fashion demanded participation from the crowd. Mixing samples from DMX “Party Up” to Van Halen’s Jump in-between their own songs, their no-bars overload of enthusiasm became infectious and took  over most of the festival. Discussing sexual relationships and other comedic bits Kim took it upon herself to announce a “dance parrtyoff ” in the crowd that during audio issues, which lasted 15 minutes. Even if their set was effectively cut in half musically, those in attendance for the performance weren’t disappointed one bit as they gladly took everything Matt and Kim gave to them Sunday night.

Perfectly timed was M83’s electric night time show that felt just as personal and connective as the Father John Misty set did earlier in the day. Backed by visually inspiring and equaling audacious light show that pierced the largest crowd of Sunday, M83 stuck with their recent material. Relying on more pop heavy favorites like “Steve McQueen” and “Midnight City,” only to burst their drone reverb heavy “Lower Your Eyelids To Die with the Sun.” In what felt like the most climactic and fitting moment of the entire day, the journey-like eight minutes grew steadily more embracing and commanding from anything previously played on Sunday.

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