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House of Vans – Four Wild and Free Days in Detroit

by Mikel Pfeiffer (Digital Racket)

Vans is known for putting on some seriously “warped” events and their recent pop-ups are no exception. Traveling to places around the globe, Vans has a keen eye for trendsetting places that inspire their brand. Detroit, with its community of homegrown artists and mix of styles, made a perfect site for all the skateboarding, music and art creation one could want. Best of all, it was free!

The venue, Jefferson School, a closed school building, offered a unique setting that had all the room for the event, and, unfortunately, none of the parking. But, that didn’t stop hundreds of visitors from attending every day and taking part in all the experiences. Thursday night kicked things off with some sultry music from Amber Mark. Then, local indie rockers, Protomartyr played a blistering set of their talky and thrash rock. It was my first time seeing them, and they exceeded all expectations. Thundercat ended the night with his jazzy, jamming R&B.

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Friday was a more subdued, locals only night with live art and music. Musical acts included Britney Stoney and emo-metal band Desires. Mural artists, Sheefy McFly, Zelooperz and others, painted big, bold art as the music played. On the third floor, you could buy food and clothing from local vendors. The second floor featured an indoor skatepark with plenty of opportunity to impress your friends with your skills.

The real buzz came Saturday night when the news that Danny Brown was playing created a line around the school for most of the night. The auditorium couldn’t contain the crowd so scores were left outside listening to the show from the speakers in the hallway. Joyce Manor brought their pop punk antics in from Torrence, California and a mosh pit with crowd surfers ensued. Kelsey Lu opened the night with some avant garde soul that was both mystifying and pleasing.

The event wrapped up Sunday, but I was far too beat and exhausted to go. Overall, House of Vans gave Detroit a raucous, good time that I sure hope will make a return visit.

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