Mo Pop Festival 2015 Part III: ELEL, Sonny & the Sunsets, Dreamers, GIVERS, In The Valley Below, and Viet Cong
It was already hotter outside than the previous day had been when I got to the line at West Riverfront Park on day two of Mo Pop 2015. Due to Passion Pit canceling, the set times had been pushed back giving me a time to sleep in which was great appreciated after the previous day. It didn’t take long before the doors were opened and I made my way inside. From what I hear, the crew had been at the venue until 5 AM laying hay over the lakes that had formed throughout the music stage area so that Mo Pop goers could enjoy the day without getting soaked or muddy.
I quickly made my way right over to the Fender Premium Audio stage to get ready for the first band of the day. There were so many bands that I was excited to see on day two and I was happy to be kicking the day off with one of the bands at the top of that list. ELEL, who was one of our early new discoveries this year, made their way onto the stage to a bigger crowd than had been present at the start of the previous day. I was happy once again that the smaller stage of the festival this year was bigger than the one last year as ELEL was able to stretch their extensive lineup across the front. The band put on an amazing show full of energy and with a sound just as intricately layered as their single “40 Watt” with numerous guitars, synths, and even some horn action. I especially loved that each member really got into the set, dancing around animatedly and getting the crowd to join in as much as possible. It was the band’s first time in Detroit and I’m hoping the Mo Pop experience will have them returning again.
Already feeling the heat after dancing through ELEL’s set, I retired to the VIP tent to catch some shade and water as Sonny & the Sunsets took the Grande stage. Another band that I didn’t have a whole lot of knowledge about, I was interested in discovering what the band was all about. Kicking their set off with “Reflections of Youth,” Sonny & the Sunsets proved immediately that they belonged among the talented Mo Pop lineup. Their garage rock sound fit perfectly with the sunny summer vibes of the day and kept the (probably at least somewhat) hungover crowd up and moving along.
It’s hard to say which band I was most excited to see but Dreamers is definitely near the top of the list. I fell in love with their single, “Wolves,” back when I featured the band as one of our new discoveries and had been looking for a local tour date ever since. Dreamers definitely did not disappoint. Staticy guitars announced first track “Waste My Night,” which, I was surprised to find, a lot of people packed in front of the Fender Premium Audio stage knew. We were lucky to get a chance to hear a few new tracks including the hook laden “Drugs” and “Black and White.” Lead singer Nick Wold informed us that Mo Pop was the last stop on their tour before heading back to L.A. to record their new album which I already can’t wait to hear.
Another band that I was pretty excited to see was GIVERS. I loved their debut album, In Light, and have been waiting for the announcement of new music. Like a few other bands, Mo Pop marked the first time the band had been to Detroit and it seemed that they were loving every minute of it. Probably the most exciting part of their set was that they announced that their new album would be out in November before giving us just a glimpse at what we could expect from it with “Sleeper Hold.” The track is filled with atmospheric synths and the infectious beats that I have come to expect from the band. GIVERS took a moment to reflect on the horrible theater shooting that took place in their hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana and dedicated their set to a friend that lost their life that day. I was very excited to hear my favorite track off of In Light, “Up Up Up,” not able to resist the hypnotic pull of the song and forgetting my notes to take a moment to dance. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new album and for GIVERS to make another stop in Detroit.
I had enjoyed my Mario sandwich so much the day before that I headed back to the Hero or Villain food truck and got myself a Mega Man before catching some shade in the VIP tent to eat it. I finished my sandwich just in time to make my way over to the Fender Premium Audio stage to catch the next band.
Aside from their hit single, “Peaches,” I hadn’t heard much else from In The Valley Below so I was interested to see what the hype was about. The crowd in front of the Fender Premium Audio stage was the biggest there had been there all weekend. It was pretty easy to see why everyone was excited from the moment the duo started playing their opening track, “Stand Up.” The crowd in front of the stage was packed tightly but that didn’t stop anyone from moving along to the music. Angela Gail took a moment after the song to say how happy she was be to be in her home state of Michigan and that this was the band’s first show in Detroit. The moody synths and sultry beats had me hooked immediately and I found myself wondering as I moved along to the music why I had waited so long to truly take the time to give In The Valley Below a chance.
I was pretty worn out after In The Valley Below so it was back to the VIP tent to sit for a while. Thankfully I found a table that was free near the front of the area so that I could catch Viet Cong’s set. It seemed that the mass of people that had settled in front of the Grande stage were there for the long haul and the crowd stretched all the way back to the VIP area. The people directly in front of the stage seemed to be the most excited as the band kicked off their set. The post-punk act did seem to be a bit polarizing as I started to hear people in the VIP area talking throughout their set. I will admit that there were moments where I wasn’t quite hooked but watching the people in the front of the crowd thrash and jump about kept my interest up. There were a lot of parts of the set that I did enjoy, specifically set opener “Silhouettes” and “Bunker Buster.” Listening to the band’s self-titled album now I’m finding that I must have just been feeling the heat because I can’t find a moment that I don’t like throughout it.
The first half of day two at Mo Pop was an amazing one and I couldn’t wait to see how the festival would end.
Make sure to check out the other Mo Pop recaps:
Part I featuring George Morris, Coin, Ryley Walker, Ex Cops, and Natalie Prass
Part II featuring Coasts, King Tuff, James Bay, Atlas Genius, and Iron & Wine with Ben Bridwell
Part IV featuring Wild Child, The Front Bottoms, Saint Motel, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, and Modest Mouse