MI Local: Talking emo with Ferndale’s PUG Fest organizers

Listen to “MI Local” with host Jeff Milo every Tuesday from 9-10 p.m. ET on Detroit Public Radio 101.9 WDET.

Ian Cruz from the Pleasant Underground singing and playing guitar on stage.

Musician and PUG Fest organizer Ian Cruz.

This week on MI Local, I welcomed Ian Cruz and Spencer Rogers into the studio to talk about PUG Fest 2024, featuring over 160 artists across 15 venues in Ferndale June 28-30.

Much of the festival lineup predominantly fits into the genre known as emo, a punk-adjacent subgenre often featuring guitars and fast tempos with vocals that never shy away from emphatic candor and, well, emotion.

Ian Cruz, one of the organizers of PUG Fest and part of local indie-punk/emo band Easy Beach, is excited about the significant expansion of the festival compared to last year’s edition.

“Essentially, we just wanted to highlight the cool emo, punk, hardcore music coming out of Detroit — but also in the DIY community,” Cruz said. “Last year we had 60 bands, so this year is a huge upgrade. And one of the things we wanted to do was to keep things as local as possible, to work with the city…do something cool, and make it a SXSW-styled festival.”

Organizers of Pug Fest featured on Mi Local
From left: PUG Fest organizers Spencer Rogers and Ian Cruz with “MI Local” host Jeff Milo.

We also discussed the reemergence of emo.

“Emo really went through a whole revival period about six years ago and now it’s crazy how big these bands are getting,” Cruz said. “One of our cherished friends from Kalamazoo, Saturdays At Your Place, are headlining because at last year’s fest, they played to 400 people and everyone in the crowd was singing along to their songs. So we made them one of the headliners this year”

Along with Saturdays At Your Place, the 2024 PUG Fest lineup features Heavenly Blue, The Detroit Party Marching Band, Pia The Band, Summer Like the Season, Former Critics, Riot Course and more performing at venues that include The Loving Touch, Orchid Theatre, New Way Bar, Ferndale Project. See the full lineup and ticket details at noxp.org.

I also spotlight this Saturday’s Spring Stunr Fest — a showcase of local femme punk bands performing at Gatekeeper Games in Berkley during the city’s annual Pride Fest — and play songs from several artists currently nominated for WDET’s Sounds Like Detroit Contest! You can help us choose the top five artists who will go on to perform at our Sounds Like Detroit concert on Aug. 15 at New Center Park. Vote now through July 2 at wdet.org/tinydesk.

See the playlist below and listen to the episode on-demand for two weeks after it airs using the media player above.

MI Local Playlist for June 18, 2024

  • “Burnt Red Hands” – Towner
  • “Ava” – Vaega
  • “Frost” – Beletrie
  • “Bones” – Panda House
  • “Ghost” – Pet Me
  • “Garden of Four Streams” – Billow Observatory
  • “Sista” – Isis Damil
  • “Free” – Kenyatta Rashon
  • “Get Down” – Masha Marjieh
  • “Happy To Be” – Elspeth Tremblay & the Treatment
  • “Talk Soon” – Former Critics
  • “Pourover” – Saturdays At Your Place
  • “Daughter” – Riot Course
  • “Taurus Mercury” – kissyourfriends


  • Jeff Milo
    Jeff Milo is the host of "MI Local" on 101.9 WDET. He's a longtime music journalist documenting the Michigan scene for 20 years.