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All The Dope Summer Festivals in Detroit

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By: Curtis Schabath


Detroit Rock City, Motown and the birthplace of techno are all musical monikers for The D. Needless to say, just about everything you listen to has some sort of influence from the Motor City. Whether it’s your favorite music to which you shake dat azz, or the Bob Seger and Eminem lyrics that resonate with you most, Detroit has a rich musical legacy that is highly celebrated. Take it from a dude who has talked shop with men thrice his age about how you could never understand what the fuck Slim Gaillard is saying but how you could hear the story from his guitar, plus there’s a probability many sweaty evenings have been spent slipping Stroh’s out of 20-something’s backpacks during their molly-mazement of GRiZ’s trap entrapment.

No matter if you have been jivin’ since there were still all four of The Four Tops alive or you just snuck into your first after hours in an abandoned warehouse, Detroit has had, does and will have a music festival for you.

Movement (Detroit Electronic Music Festival)


From uhn tiss uhn tiss uhn tiss to wob wob wob, Movement has brought millions of technoheads and beat chasers to Hart Plaza for 16 years. Previously known as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, come every Memorial Day weekend without fail the furry boots, Kandi bead bracelets and twirling of glow sticks are pied pipered out by the likes of Deadmau5, Skrillex, and Major Lazer. If the constant bass is too much for your face, Movement has been known to employ the likes of Run the Jewels, Public Enemy and Moby to mix things up a bit (vinyl DJ pun intended.) House or hip-hop, let’s just say it’s the party to kick off the summer.

Downtown Hoedown

99.5 WYCD presents the 2013 Downtown Hoedown on the grounds of Comerica Park in Downtown Detroit on May 31st, June 1st, and June 2nd 2013 (Photo by Steve Wiseman / 99.5 WYCD)

(Photo by Steve Wiseman / 99.5 WYCD)

Country music in downtown Detroit? For the last 33 years herds of suburban cowgirls and boys drive their needlessly jacked-up trucks to Detroit’s entertainment district for three days of twang sangin’ and country crooners. Over the years ten gallon hats and Target flannel shirts have line danced to Montgomery Gentry, Dierks Bentley, Hank Williams Jr., a young Garth Brooks and our very own Uncle Kracker. Tales from the old west say that if you make any hoe jokes at the hoedown, the ghost of Merle Haggard will come kick your ass.  Downtown Hoedown info

Note: The Downtown Hoedown will not be in Detroit for 2016 but there are plans to return.

Detroit International Jazz Festival


Before there was the Motown sound, Detroit was just as jazzy as Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans. To this day there’s still a long lasting brass legacy that has Berry Gordy looking over his shoulder for the last 60 years. The Detroit Jazz Fest is the world’s largest free jazz festival, and by large we mean three days long and ¾ of a million people each Labor Day weekend. Just like Movement and previous years of the Downtown Hoedown, DJF is held in legendary Hart Plaza on Detroit’s beautiful riverfront and also extends up famous Woodward Avenue to beautiful Campus Martius park. (Dan Gilbert’s playground for you young whippersnappers.) The acoustics are perfect to hear the classic sounds of The Manhattan Transfer, Tower of Power, Sonny Rollins, the late great Dave Brubeck and that crazy cat Chick Corea. Stay classy San De…troit.

Mo Pop Festival


Literally this is what you’ll get, MOre POPular music. Like any young adult or or idea who has gotten to big for the ‘burbs in the last 5 years, Mo Pop Festival has also moved to Detroit. The younger and shorter of the festivals, at four years old and two days long respectively, Mo Pop has brought some hipster heavy hitters. Again using the aesthetics, ambience and acoustics of Detroit’s riverfront, the 2016 lineup brings you Berkeley-bred bro G-Eazy, Hebrew hotties Haim and since I’m all out of alliterations; M83, Mac Demarco, Matt and Kim and Father John Misty. Past performers include Modest Mouse, City and Colour, Cold War Kids and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Mo Pop does likes to also give Mo Props to hometown heroes every year like my buddies Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (suck it NASCAR), Flint Eastwood and Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas.

Dally in the Alley


Just when you thought Labor Day had ended all your summer fun here comes Detroit’s largest annual community festival. Literally in the alley ways of Detroit’s Cass Corridor on Wayne State University’s campus, the all volunteer ran weekend gives an offering of live music, visual arts, performance, food and beer. Creeping up on it’s 40th anniversary “The Dally” has been as Detroit centric as you can get with almost all performers hailing from in and around the city. Shoot you might even see the next Danny Brown perform or cop art from an up and coming Gary Grimshaw.

DIY Street Fair

street fair

Technically not IN Detroit but fabulous Ferndale (it’s in a Detroit zip code and less than one mile from the famous 8 Mile divide.) Let’s just call this an honorable mention due to fact that this festival is pure in every way. Since 2008 hundreds of thousands of hipsters have gathered to say goodbye to summer with DIY’s diverse options of food, beer, music and vendors. Garnering great appeal for one of the biggest little festivals in “Detroit” the DIY street fair has introduced masses to Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, punk pioneers Death and a Suicide Machines and Mustard Plug reunion.

Trip Metal Fest


– Not to exclude the group of festival goers on this list who could beat me up, I quickly present to you Trip Metal Fest. It’s probably the best way to see not so well known metal type bands with outrageous names in some awesomely metal venues. Plus, if anything its free all three days and you can see Andrew W.K.

As the old saying goes, “Ain’t no party like a Detroit party, because a Detroit party don’t stop!” (Unless you’re referring to the one-hit wonders Orion Festival and Oakaloosa.) Speaking of party, the holiday weekend is upon us and I’ve got the Corktown Strut music, art and food festival to act a fool during. What up doe!

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