Summer Festival Round-Up

. May 1, 2016.

Now, we can tell you where to go and even how to get there, but you’re on your own after that! This column isn’t the “Fest Survival Guide” that you’ll see all over numerous blogs this month, each hyping up behemoth spectacles like Coachella or Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza. Those are all well and good (and exciting and epic) but, here at Current, we’re pulling the focus back toward the State of Michigan, emphasizing the gas-saving expedience and local-love-spreading goodwill of embracing the dozens (upon dozens) of fests, concerts, art shows and various hootenannies right here at home in The Mitten. 


Movement 2016

When: May 28–30
Where: Detroit – (1 Hart Plaza)
What’s Up? We’re looking forward to Matthew Dear, Caribou, Big Freedia, Will Sessions, and ZelooperZ, among many others. Movement 2016 is the world’s premier electronic music event, centered in the city that invented Techno (and made its own style of House), spawning veritable godfathers of dance-electronica like Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins. It’s also an ideal way to kick off your summer, with a stellar outdoor dance party, right on the riverfront in the heart of downtown Detroit. The sound systems will be supreme! Six decked-out stages, 140 artists, dozens of after-parties, an interactive technology center with cool new gear and more.
Contact: Paxahau | Movement online at



When: June 3–13
Where: Washtenaw County (multiple venues)
What’s up? Chris Anderson (of Vagrant Symphony and Intellect Records) has the lineup solidified for his fifth annual YpsiArboroo music festival: an underground-style response to the more overblown Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Similar to Bonnaroo’s approach, Anderson presents a multifaceted, scene-bridging array of talent—not just music, but visual art, as well. It all goes on during consecutive evenings spread across Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, with bands like Abe Maybe, The Messenger Birds, PiNG PONG, Nina & The Buffalo Riders and more, featured inside unique venues like Beezy’s Café, Good Vibes Glass, Auger’s Kettle and others.


Ann Arbor Summer Fest

When: June 10–July 3
Where: Spread across four venues centered near University and State St.
What’s Up? Get out and go downtown. Meet your artistic neighbors and appreciate their talents. Dance to some music and engage in some fun family activities. Enjoy the sunshine and hang out downtown as the sun sets. Sound good? Community volunteers, city leaders, UM staff and faculty and many more enthusiastic folks form a month-long series of performances, celebrating local artists spread across four main venues with scattered scheduled events and activities each week. The lineup is available online at


Electric Forest

When: June 23–26
Where: Rothbury (off M-31 near Wildcat Lake)
What’s Up? This fest is for the adventurous types, elevating the senses in the great outdoors, with plenty of dazzling neon-rainbow iridescent ambience, altogether trippy and calming. Sensational electronica-heavy pop/hip-hop hybrid acts like Bassnectar and Major Lazer are topping this lineup, along with psychedelic jam outfit The String Cheese Incident. The idea with Electric Forest is full immersion, losing oneself in a sort of wonderland of sound (and vibrantly hued arbors).

Farm Block Fest

When: July 29–31
Where: Allouez, MI (Upper Peninsula – 2239 Farmers Block Rd.)
What’s Up? Are you up for a road trip? Wanna get away for a weekend, hop across the Mackinac Bridge and chill out at a farm with some splendid folk singers like Anna Ash, Misty Lyn, and Matt Jones, or rock outfits like Macpodz and The Go? Or perhaps some other fine Great Lakes area groups like Divino Nino or Kansas Bible Company? This multi-day music festival was started several years ago by Go Rounds singer/guitarist Graham A. Parsons, a Kalamazoo-native, and it continues to grow each year. It’s also an endearing fundraising event, supporting the Dan Schmitt Gift of Music and Education Fund — a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free and low-cost instruments, music lessons, sustainability education and positive outdoor activities for youth Info:


When: July 23–24
Where: Detroit  (West Riverfront Park)
What’s Up? You don’t need to go to Pitchfork’s fest in Chicago or follow any Lollapalooza trip, not when Detroit will be hosting some of the most premier indie-rock and electro-pop acts you could possibly ask for… M83, Father John Misty, Haim, Mac Demarco, Matt & Kim, and, one of our personal favorites, Tunde Olaniran. Whereas several of these top-tier touring acts are coming from hipster havens like Brooklyn or even further out, from across the pond, it’s the multifaceted music maven Tunde Olaniran who serves as the local hero amid this lineup. The West Riverfront Park is a 20-acre green space with extra-wide pathways linking the waterfront to neighborhoods, supplied with bike racks, benches, call boxes and security cameras. It should be exhilaratingly chill.


Heavy Color’s River Passage

Toledo’s future beat/psy-jazz/hybrid electro duo Heavy Color recently premiered a new music video that commemorates an inspiring musical odyssey charted by one of its songwriters back in 2015. The group formed several years ago around the collaborations of Ben Cohen and Sam Woldenberg. Their Toledo’s answer to cerebral ambient electronica acts like Four Tet, Caribou,

Green Book is Worth the Trip

An elite black pianist tours the segregated south with a white roughneck chauffeur. Green Book combines two crowd-pleasing formulas—the road movie and the true story—with two stellar lead actors, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Mortensen plays Tony Lip, a white, working class second-generation Italian-American from the Bronx who works as a nightclub bouncer. Ali plays

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

The most recent book of Kalamazoo-native Bonnie Jo Campbell is as visceral as it is honest. A compilation of short stories, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters explores the lives and relationships of women in rural settings. With varied character perspectives, the book runs the gambit of trials and tribulations: sexual assault, substance abuse, unwanted pregnancies, neglect,

Sweat and the Exonerated

Two shows ground today’s polarized political climate in the lives of people who struggle. In these tense political times, politically charged theatre is perhaps the opposite of the escape people are looking for in their entertainment. But The Exonerated, to be performed in February at the University of Michigan and Sweat, to be performed in