Alessia Cara and Kyle kick off Common Ground Festival

Common Ground Festival is one of Michigan’s hidden gems. It consists of four days of a varying genre of artists, taking place at the Riverfront Park in downtown Lansing. This year, Alessia Cara and KYLE opened up the festival as day 1 headliners. 

Detroit native, Olivia Millerschin, opened the Sparrow stage with her band. Her sound is a beautiful blend of folk and pop. Her interactions with the crowd were intimate, as she cracked jokes with the audience. But what really highlighted the intimacy of her set was how she explained her story behind the songs, and what they meant to her. She opened with “She’s Got It All”. After having been sent home after competing in the quarter finals of America’s Got Talent, she shared her song about the experience, “Look Both Ways”.

Phoebe Ryan opened the Auto Value main stage with her bright green hair matching the bright and positive energy she brought to the stage. During her  performance of her catchy pop anthem “Dollar Bill”, she threw candy into the crowd, making sure everyone who wanted some got it. She also performed her feature with The Chainsmokers “All We Know”. Her energy on stage, despite the heat, was unbelievable, including when there was technical problems due to the heat. At this time, she let her strong vocals shine through as she gave quick covers of Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” and Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill”. 

Columbus natives, CLUBHOUSE, brought their indie pop sound to Michigan for the first time. They performed their hit song “Blame the Weather”. Rather than facing technical difficulties with a stand still, Max Reichert joined the crowd at the barrier asking to hear the best jokes. The band also performed a cover of Jerrod Niemann’s “Lover, Lover”. 

Adam, Jack and Ryan Met are the three brothers that make up the indie pop sensation AJR. Their set opened with Jack running onto the catwalk with the iPad, playing around with the mixer until they opened into their song “I’m Not Famous”. The trio also performed their hit “Come Hang Out”. The boys gave a run down on how to make a remix, with Ryan on keyboard to lay down a beat they remixed Kanye West’s “Mercy” and eventually, in order to make that ‘lesson’ unique,  just the word “Lansing”. 

2012 British X Factor winner James Arthur traveled from England and shared his powerful vocals with us. He performed his song “Back from the Edge”. He also picked up his guitar to play the intense pop rock song “Prisoner”. He also included his cover of Shontelle’s “Impossible”. 

Pop R&B singer Alessia Cara headlined the main stage, and killed it. She was constantly dancing, and engaged with the audience in between every song. She performed her hits including “Wild Things”, “Stay” and “Here” (where she added a new verse). A heart touching moment ensued when she introduced “Outlaws”, asking the audience to hug or kiss those who came with them, and to spread love around. The emotions kept flowing as she performed “River of Tears” literally bringing tears to the eyes of the audience. The highlight of her set was when she brought a little girl named “Lauren” on stage with her to sing the first verse of “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana as well as to dance and continue singing the rest of the song with her ons stage. During “Seventeen”, fans got a peek into Alessia’s life as childhood videos played on the screens on stage. Alessia took a moment before “Scars To Your Beautiful” to empower women, and to encourage them that society’s beauty standards are unfair, and that everyone is beautiful. Her encore included a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”. 

To bring the night to a close, super duper Kyle and his DJ super duper Brick partied at the Sparrow stage. Super Duper Brick opened the set, demanding the crowd had to be hype enough for him to bring Kyle out. After a series of remixes of famous rap songs, Kyle finally entered ending the night with a nonstop party including a performance of his new song “Nothing 2 Lose”. 

The festival continues through this weekend and ends Sunday July 9 with Detroit native, Big Sean.