[live review + video] Detroit's Movement Electronic Music Festival 2012

The overarching ubiquity of electronic dance music is no longer deniable. From prime time television programs to their commercials, the spike (and inevitable public backlash) is probably nowhere more transparent than this summer's festival circuit, in which mega-spectacles such as Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra have blown to Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza level proportions.

(In regards to the backlash, the former was referred to as "Fresh Hell." The latter apparently to blame for one man eating another man's face off.)

But as is oft the case with most corners of life, the best stuff typically flies under-the-radar, specifically in reference to this past weekend's MOVEMENT ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL. Presumably because no one OD'd on bath salts, it didn't earn the "acclaim" of the other two.

The lack of vocal recognition is hardly worth making a fuss over though. As the nation continues to turn their ear to the beat, it's not likely to remain disrespected for long (if you'd even consider a festival that averaged 35,781 attendees a day disrespected). It's too perfect for that.

Detroit obviously isn't without its flaws though. Last year, Movement kicked my fucking ass. I had little idea what I was getting myself into, let my morals (and cell phone and car and dignity) drift away from me, and while I had the time of my life, I left battered and abused. But this year I came prepared. From the daytime portion in the picturesque Hart Plaza to the late night offerings throughout the city's finest venues to the corn dogs, it was all too perfect.

Lest we forget that there's music and not just pretty places and snacks, Movement was not surprisingly chock full o'techno -- perhaps the reason it's failed to gain traction outside the niche circles of our country's burgeoning electronic scope and the reason some looked at me with three heads when I told them I came to Detroit for this. But this year, more so than any of the 12 past, diversity held serve. From house to dubstep to d'n'b to hip-hop. All rep'd to some extent.

But seeing as it was Detroit and all, I opted to first explore some 4/4 upon my arriving to the park. This wasn't the head-down, arms-swinging brand that's ever-linked to the territory though. Rather, this was ACTRESS techno. After 20 minutes of scene-setting ambiance via some dub and a fog machine, Darren Cunningham cut in with what could only be referenced as train track noises. Grating? Sure, but as anyone who's ever listened to the man's music knows, he's never been one to play for mass approval. His unflinching stoicism was indicative of such -- his only overt movement was to grimace when he thought he'd fucked up, though I couldn't tell as much. Fully disarmed by cacophony, the kick only sounded all-the-more celestial as it crept from beneath the passing locomotion. Dude is a legend in the mold of a select few that've came before -- think Basic Channel, Aphex Twin -- and deserves every recent bit of praise that has been cast in his direction for R.I.P.

Searching for something with a bit more groove concentrated, I wandered over to ANDRES at the Made In Detroit stage. Sporting a black tee that said "Your Swag Sucks!" and cutting through a number of Purple-tinged jams, he had me questioning my personal presentation.

Following a set of sufficiently buoyant house from Todd Terje, I opted to stick around the main stage for DERRICK CARTER. With such a regimented minute-to-minute plan of attack for the weekend, I'm not sure what possessed me to stay put, but I'm thankful that I did. It wasn't just the surprise set of the festival, but the set of the festival. Seeing as most house music has shifted to a more washed-out tonality over the past couple years, my amazement may have been due to that real Chicago shit being delivered from the stage, the way God intended it. Or maybe it was the "I guess that cunt getting eaten" drop halfway through the set that sent me dashing to the railing, hands clasped in anticipation. Not sure if more credit is due to Carter for working it into his set or to Azealia Banks and her insta-classic that has yet to wear its welcome. But yeah, wondrous party-starting set from a legend who best excels at such.

Unfortunately, that same vibe wasn't able to carry over to CIRCO LOCO's afterhours affair. An offshoot of the beloved Ibiza party of the same name, the acclaim has clearly drifted to our shores, evidenced by the densely packed TV Lounge. After spending a solid hour muscling my way through overly rambunctious types -- dragon shirts abound -- I was able to carve out a serviceable space on the outside terrace where Bill Patrick was serving a set of galloping house suited for the near-morning hour. And then the cops came. Party was shutdown around 4:15 AM without much explanation from the promoters, club owners, or cops, and while I had sunrise in me, sleep in Detroit is a commodity so I wasn't complaining all too much.

Sunday brought more diversity, with notable sets from FALTYDL and HOT NATURED. The former took place in the Bunker, a stage set beneath the rest of the action in a concrete encampment that can make it seem like you're listening to music from inside a refridgerator. While this could've spelled immediate disaster for the bass-heavy Brookyln-based producer, Drew Lustman was instead able to use the confines to his gain, working in a number of hard-nosed techno cuts that succeeded in pummeling, never flattening, the rapt afternoon audience. While the distinction may seem thin, anyone who's ever been engulfed within the recesses of a shallow club can speak to the difference of having the bass resonate inside of you versus on top of you.

The latter referenced Jamie Jones and Lee Foss collaborative tag team has become something of a phenomenon over the past year thanks to Hot Creations, the pair's label that is responsible for house music's aforementioned shift to washed-out territory. As is the case, their set didn't do much to surprise: Glossy bounce arranged to send tank-topped arms into the air alongside beach balls and good weed smoke. Nothing challenging, but ideal for the lazy Sunday sunset.

And now for the Detroit portion of my proceedings. Making the pilgrimage to the motherland and not taking in the local offerings can be likened to an out-of-towner's trek to Boston without the Red Sox. (Just kidding on that one. There's really is no parallel to be made. Having been familiar with the music birthed there long before the city itself, I almost like to envision Detroit being founded on techno -- cold, detached architecture with a vibrant pulse trapped deep within -- although I'm well aware of the opposite being true.)

"This is my backyard," said KEVIN SAUNDERSON during a brief sit down I had with the innovator on Monday following his previous evening celebration of the 25th anniversary of his record label, KMS.

"Everyone that played was on my label, everyone that played, I've worked with or has done a remix for me. Bringing everyone together though, people don't see each other that often. I might see Derrick May on the road, or Marc Kinchen, or Juan Atkins. But to get everybody in that one building, all that talent, is quite amazing."

It was difficult to discern much regarding his character thanks to his laid-back disposition, but at the least, that quote lends itself to modesty. "Quite amazing" barely scratches the surface of the late Sunday proceedings. The three mentioned above are a good starting point, as they evidence the breadth of variety on display inside Saint Andrew's Hall. But there was also Ben Sims and Carl Craig and Kyle Hall and a wealth of comparably vaunted icons that lent themselves to the perception that not only was an anniversary being celebrated, but history itself.

Unfortunately, cramming 20 acts onto three stages for a six-hour party didn't really give much opportunity for these names to wax poetic via the long-form narrative they generally undertake. But I digress, as Saunderson was able to stake claim as the weekend's victor in his own backyard. (Also, I had the opportunity to catch him, MK, and Stacey Pullen at the main festival which afforded for a less berating, Ludovico-like environment for witnessing the masters at work.)

Monday ended on an appropriately manic manner thanks to VISIONQUEST's seventh annual Need I Say More day gathering. Taking place on the city's outskirts at Old Miami, a quaint dive with enough backyard space for a crowd of about 200 to properly lose their shit, the party was merely curated by the VQ boys, with Maya Jane Coles and dOP handling the decks for the five hours I spent there, cooking in the sun. The former is a meteoric UK star, risen from out of nowhere to headline stature thanks to her unmatched ability to lean on her house and garage forefathers while still managing to push the sound forward.

dOP, on the otherhand, is a trio of drunk Frenchmen. That they ended up providing my personal highlight of the weekend speaks to the surprise around every corner aspect of Movement. That I spotted frontman Jonathan Ille passed out from heat exhaustion barely 30 minutes after their set ended speaks to the toll the whole ordeal can take on your body. Last year upon wrap, I was so uncertain if I'd be making the trek again this year. Ask me about next year and I'll tell you the same thing now. But in all honesty, who am I kidding? It's all too perfect not to.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
OTD Categories
VIDEO: Arctic Monkeys at the House of Blues
Rare Frequencies: Trouble and treble
Lady Lee's Lion's Den Playlist
HOMEWORK: Assignment #2: D-Tension
Ticket On-Sale Alert: Muse, Mariah Carey, Black Eyed...
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Bradley’s Almanac -
Band in Boston -
Wayne & Wax -
Aurgasm -
Anti-Gravity Bunny -
Clicky Clicky -
Soul Clap -
Lemmingtrail -
Jump the Turnstyle -
Loaded Gun -
Vanyaland -
Ryan's Smashing Life -
Boston Band Crush -
Sleepover Shows -
Boston Accents -
Pilgrims of Sound -
Allston Rat City -
Playground Boston -
I Heart Noise -
On The Download Archives