written by Nate Manuel
There are times at festivals—or maybe a normal weekend—when we must make choices. In festival world you can be flexible and impulsive; much harder to do in a city, with transportation and venues and tickets selling out. When deciding between shows one could simply join their friends, decide based solely on who’s playing, or do their best to compare each possible overall experience. Hints like “Headliner, with Special Guest” might make you might look twice, and when the official set times list “Special Guest” after the headliner, pay extra attention.
So it was with Mija at a recent stop in Detroit on her Fk a Genre tour. I knew I was in for a treat when I realized Jai Wolf was playing a show around the corner, and ending his set 30 minutes before Mija would end hers.
But long before Mija brought her fellow OWSLA artist on stage, Dr. Fresch opened up the night with a cohesive house and dubstep mix. Staying on the harder, deeper, more abrasive side of the musical spectrum, he played mostly original mixes mashed up with eerily recognizable synth melodies. His involvement in the tour was well rehearsed, creating a strong set list that didn’t overlap much with other artists’ material.
Mija took the stage seamlessly, and didn’t waste any time switching up the mood. House, hip-hop, pop, ambient, ethereal, drum and bass, you name it. Working her way through a 10 minute mix of her hit “Better,” I heard at least three uniquely different versions of the chorus drop in. The common thread holding the whole set together was her ability to amp up the danceability of any track.
Then, Jai Wolf tore down the house. Having just ended a different set for his own tour, he hit Fk a Genre right on the head. Skipping between rap/pop and deep house cuts, sprinkling his own popular remixes throughout, this short 45-minute set really encompassed the vibe Mija had carefully curated. At this point any one of us would have gone home happy, but Mija wasn’t done just yet. For nearly another hour, well past the venue’s closing time, we enjoyed Mija b2b Jai Wolf b2b Dr. Fresch trading off spins and having a good time on stage.
As a festival goer, these are the moments we live for. Those once-in-a-lifetime performances, exceeding the sum of its parts and excelling beyond the ticket you paid for. Mija gained a lot of attention from her 2014 “sunrise set” at Bonnaroo when a wandering Skrillex asked to perform with her, and since then b2b segments have become a regular addition to her shows and a staple of the Fk a Genre tour. She embodies the collaborative and improvisational spirit of the “b2b” phenomenon, and I can’t wait to experience it again.