Detroit was the star again for day 2 of Movement Electronic Music Festival, presented by Paxahau. The long lines of day 1 had died down quite a bit, and other than a little wait for general admission at the main gate, the day went off proper. The weather was beautiful, 75 degree and partly sunny, Techno christmas was in full swing. A record number of people showed out for all the amazing talent to be seen across 6 stages. The crowds made me think of a few things… 1 : Techno is alive and well, and so are festivals. The familiarity of festivals with this generation of music lovers has created a loyal and fervent stock of people who use vacation time, and every penny they could save to party and dance with thousands of others for 3 days straight. 2: It is quite remarkable how well organized a group of 50,000 neo-hippies can be when faced with the challenge. I surmise that only the technocrat could weave the delicate and tumultuous terrain of Hart plaza whilst managing a beer in one hand, and a friend on the other. It certainly isn’t without chaos, but that’s kind-of part of the ambience, and for so much chaos, I have to say we do it pretty well.
My day started off with Todd Osborn (live) at the Made in Detroit stage. It was a sight to behold with Todd bringing out the gear for this one. A unique blend, as expected with Mr Osborn, laden with pounding kicks, snappy snares, and 303 lines galore. He pleased the crowd as Detroit’s iconic building, the Renaissance Center, played a perfect background. The stages seem very well set up this year, with the next artist already hooked up and ready to go, on a separate table, with connectors to patch power and audio. When Osborn was done, they simply unhooked his rig and rolled the entire thing away as JTC took over to continue the Ghostly showcase on the Made in Detroit stage on Sunday.
Next I caught a bit of JTC, who did not disappoint. Playing a mix of vinyl and digital, he kept driving rhythms and plush bass the whole way through. There’s something extra classy about a JTC set that is hard to describe, but palpable in person. James T Cotton is the man. His track selection is a treasure trove of classics and new heat, all of which incinerate the dance floor.
I saw people under the stairs next, and I was blown away by the true hip hop showmanship I experienced. These guys tore the place down. Real lyrics, dope beats, and style for days. These guys had timing, they had charisma, and they had content. It was a performance that reminded me of what hip hop was, and what it can be. It doesn’t have to be a boring braggadocios pile of drivel, it can be a real show, and it can rock the party right. Bravo, People Under the Stairs, Bravo.
I caught Art Department for a short while on the Main Stage, and it was rumbling for sure. What was billed as their “last set ever”, seemed to have a very jovial feel. Traditional Art Department style with deep tracks, and bass for days, the duo seemed to be really enjoying the moment. I often caught them smiling to one and other, and that attitude really poured over into the crowd. These guys command respect with their production, and their DJ sets, and whatever they move on to next, I’m sure will be a plus for us music fans.
Danny Brown would be my next attraction, and his persona cannot be mistaken. Bold, and outspoken, Detroit’s alt rapper had the crowd buzzing and bouncing with skywlkr providing his unique blend of hip hop and electronic beats. Danny’s high pitched barks were a bit muffled, but the crowd sang along to most of his tracks, and the energy was incredible. He was wearing some kind of Kool-aid man shirt with an American flag on the front and a British flag on the back, perhaps a nod to his recent UK tour. I caught some great shots of Danny and his crew.
I Managed to sneak away to the underground stage for Rodhad, and it was an amazing scene. So much dancing, mesmerizing lights, and aggressive Techno pounding. I will say that the sound was far better than in years past underground, and that’s probably due to the significant amount of deadening they did to dampen the extremely echo-ey space. They had it dialed in proper, and that made for great sets all around.
I need to make a separate ode to Mike Servito here… His set at Movement was as expected, a great time. He pleased the locals with his signature style of House and Techno, but the after party was where I really saw him shine last night. He played at the Interdimensional Transmissions show at Tangent Gallery for an annual party entitled “No Way Back”, and that was indeed a statement to heed. His 3am set right after Mark Verbos – live (also amazing), was nothing short of an ass-beating. He came like a bull dog to those turntables and relentlessly dropped fire for an hour and a half. I don’t know that I’ve seen kids dance that hard outside of a Canadian Gabber Core party in 1993. Ha. Really though, he played slamming Techno with Jim Gibbons AVS Sound rig hitting on all cylinders. It felt as underground and old school as you could get in 2015. The energy from that set is still with me now, and I can’t even explain it properly. It was one of those times when all the colors of the night fade into one blur of beautiful madness, a watercolor canvas of art and culture high-fiving in a worm-hole. Yeah, that’s what it was.
Matthew Dear was my surprise of the night, he did an exquisite job. Weaving techno rhythms and House basslines with his signature brooding style, and the occasional abstract vocal to jar your consciousness a bit. He kept the crowd moving the entire time, and he was really playing to the Detroit community with his track selection. I found my crew of people specifically got down to his set. It seemed everyone busted out the techno they had in their bags today, but Matthew Dear did so with a grace that was subtle and organic. It didn’t feel like he was trying to do anything he wasn’t completely comfortable with, he was in the moment. Grooving.
Ben Klock would be my final experience of day 2, and my goodness what a treat. A saturated underground stage stood witness to hard Techno, in epic proportion. Ben did what he does, destroy the fucking room, and he did it with reckless abandon. Every track seemed harder than the last, even though that didn’t seem possible. He used acid-like break downs to mark the valleys of his set, and would just as quickly bring it back up to an even higher peak than the last time. A true professional with patience and a vision for his sets. This was a journey, and the time was just right for Ben Klock. Props to Blank Code for programming an amazing Underground stage all weekend.
Detroit was captured beautifully in between a crazy scene at Hart plaza. The crowds were overwhelming, for everyone involved, but that didn’t stop amazing music from beaming out of the speakers nonstop. The crowd seemed decidedly underground in their tastes, and the attitude of respect and moderation seemed consistent. This I enjoyed. The EDM scene seemed heavily deterred by the lack of mainstream names, and it was a welcome sight for a festival such as Detroit’s. It was it’s largest crowds I’ve seen since going to a pay format, and the music was top notch. The crowds were hindered by long lines, but once inside were sufficiently rewarded. The lesson we learned this year. Have your bracelet mailed to you, no matter what. Detroiters cannot wait with the common folk. JK JK ;)