visiting a new city for the first time, you're bound to encounter at least a few trials and
tribulations along the way -- parking, navigation, finding a decent place to eat, etc.
Somewhat daunting, but I've always looked at it as more of an adventure
than anything. But if that new city already happens to be as trialed
and tribulated as Detroit? Well, there's a good chance that city may
chew you up and spit you out, snatching up your car, cell phone, and
hotel reservations in the process.
on that a bit later, as I sit here nearly a week following the wrap of
the MOVEMENT ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL 2011, attempting to translate a
weekend's worth of 4/4 beats into words. As much as the city took a toll
on my body and mind and such, this review is about the music, man.
festival itself, now in its eleventh incarnation, took place Saturday
to Monday over Memorial Day weekend and was primarily broken into two
parts: Movement, the day portion of the fest taking place noon to
midnight, and the after-parties, which are sponsored by the festival but
held in off-site bars and clubs.
day portion is set in Hart Plaza, a city park located on the tributary
dividing Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, overlooking Windsor, Ontario.
They somehow manage to fit five stages into this area that barely equals
three city blocks. In Bostonian specs, it would be comparable to
jamming five stages of thumping electronic music into the space that
separates the Aquarium and Faneuil Hall. Much respect goes to the sound
engineers for absolutely no bleed over between stages, but surely they
already know how ace they are at their job.
that I've set the scene, the best way that I can think to tackle this
beast is from the beginning. I'm not going to bother outlining every
performance that I caught in separate graphs. I saw a lot of acts, it
was a blur, so here's a myriad of words and visuals to accompany said
arrived at our motel in Dearborn on Saturday afternoon, realized our
motel in Dearborn was located between a strip club and a porn store, and
relocated to a Hilton in the Downtown Detroit area. After a 13-hour
overnight drive and a hostile phone call with hotels.com, in which I
accused them of putting my livelihood on the line by even allowing me to
book that Dearborn motel, my compatriots and I coasted into the
festival grounds in a bit of a glossed over state of mind.
quick to wear off thanks to KERRI CHANDLER. Dude is nothing short of a
legend and he laid the groundwork for a reoccurring theme of the
weekend: Acts that I've only previously enjoyed from the comfort of my
laptop speakers, throwing down right before my eyes. You try keeping a
pout while listening to a set of whip-crack house in the drizzling rain.
Shout outs to arm-banded industrial bro popping and locking directly
next to me. Totally set the tone for the weekend.
we ventured to the Movement Torino stage, which is actually located in a
concrete bunker under the park. This seems like it would lend itself to
nightmarish acoustics, but we were there to witness VENETIAN SNARES,
who creates bludgeoning drum and bass, so the set and setting went hand in
hand. If I under the influence his set would've been ace, but being of a
clear mind, I could only take about 20 minutes before I felt as if I
was being curb stomped.
HAWTIN is a tough nut to crack. Public perception of the polarizing
techno poster boy seems to fluctuate as regularly as the seasons, with
many claiming his ‘minimal' style is worn. And maybe it was being
surrounded by a couple thousand of his biggest fanboys, or my virginal
wideeyed perception of the weekend as a whole, but Richie delivered the
standout set of day one for me. Nothing polarizing from my vantage
point. And most likely the people bitching about him online are just
that, people bitching online. Totally unique style, sleek mixing method,
never knowing where any of his tunes start or end as he introduces a
peculiar beep or glitch that immediately draws your attention while he
fully mixes out the rest of the track under the distraction. Quite
TROXLER equals sexy time. Unadulterated liquid house that lends itself
to serious crate digging. We briefly stopped by his set at the Made In
Detroit stage on the way out of the fest, knowing full well we were
going to catch an extended take during his headline set at the Circo
Loco after-party. Unfortunately, we arrived at TV Lounge a little after
midnight to find out via the set time printout posted on the club wall
that a ‘headlining' set actually meant he wasn't playing until 10
o'clock the next morning. Also greeting us at TV Lounge was the club
owner, a hulking mass of a man wondering why the fuck we came all the
way out to Detroit for a music festival. Any suspicion that he was
harboring ill will towards us for invading his city was vanquished
around 8 AM when he bumped into us on the dance-floor and let us hit his
bottle of 1800. Reoccurring theme No. 2: The locals love outsiders
because we dump our money into their city that doesn't have much
opportunity for income otherwise.
10 AM, we had survived sultry sets by way of Cassy and Jamie Jones and
moved the party onto the outside terrace for Troxler's set. Of course
this also meant a near 48-hours without sleep for myself, and basically a
brain meltdown. One thing I can say with complete certainty is that
Seth had the mustache of the weekend.
thing about pushing your body to its absolute brink is that once it
shuts down, you're not likely to not wake up until it's damn ready to
wake. So as I arose from the comfort of my Hilton cot around 7 PM Sunday
evening, I was slightly dismayed by the fact that my cell phone was no
longer working -- your guess is as good as mine -- and even more
crushing, I had missed Soul Clap's festival set. But really no sense in
crying over spilt braincells, as I gathered my bearings and made my way
to the Plaza for day two.
ventured back into the bunker for BEN KLOCK and MARCEL DETTMANN. Even
more suited for the dingy environment than Mr. Snares, the two deliver
the spookiest techno imaginable. The beats pummel, but never into
submission, opting instead to keep an even hand while berating you over
the head. My next techno pilgrimage may very well be to Berlin to see
these two on their home turf during their residency at the infamous
Berghain. Stay tuned.
side effect of mesmerizing German techno happened to be missing most of
CARL CRAIG's debut performance under his 69 moniker. The final 10 or so
minutes I did happen to catch made it seem like it was something
up was the I'm On A Boat 3 after-party, taking place on a boat, on the
aforementioned tributary. Headlining reigns were granted to SVEN VÄTH
and RICARDO VILLALOBOS, who happens to be one of the few people I
consider an idol in this small world, as I let him know when I saw him
boarding the ship next to me. He looked humbled, I looked like a fanboy.
These two play records with the reverence in which they are meant to be
played, clearly feeling the music, as clichéd as that sounds. Sven
holds up every record before and after it touches the needle in a bout
of ritualistic worship. And Ricardo looked absolutely pissed when they
told him he had to cut his set at 5 AM, seemingly prepped to keep the
boat rocking for a couple more hours. Someone had tipped me off that
they cut beer sales at 2 AM, so instead of acting like a responsible
adult and using that opportunity to curtail my alcohol intake, I bought
and pocketed five Budweisers like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the
winter. By 5 AM I was doing that oh-so-smooth dance where I try to bust a
move, end up stumbling around a lot, and attempt to make it look like
it was part of my repertoire all along, so I was more than willing to
call it a night.
Saturday was all about the house, and Sunday the techno, then Monday
was dominated by dubstep. And as unfortunate as that may sound, there
were some choice acts present that currently dominate much of my daily
listening pleasure. This charge was led by PEARSON SOUND aka Ramadanman.
The baby faced Brit looked positively overwhelmed onstage, but dropped
bass anthems with the dexterity of someone who knew what the fuck they
were doing. Hearing Julio Bashmore's "Battle For Middle You"
was particularly fulfilling. Only caught the tail end of SCUBA's set
but it was basically more of the same, proving that just because it
carries the dubstep label doesn't mean that it has to wobble.
the barrage of low end bass frequencies, I ventured over to the main
stage for GREEN VELVET, a Chicago house OG who knows a thing or two
about getting a crowd moving. Many had insisted that I not miss his set
and from the jump it was not hard to see why he's regarded with such
acclaim. Dude doesn't even DJ his own records during his live set,
opting instead to occupy the space in front of the decks with some silly
dance moves, enthusiastic belting of his anthems, and a Juke squad from
his native land. The audience responded to the hysteria accordingly,
giving him the most rapturous response I witnessed all weekend, hell
bent on burning up the reminder of their energy, I suppose.
scared as fuck right now," proclaimed Detroit native FLYING LOTUS,
before admitting that he doesn't make it home as often as he should.
Understandable, as he is a busy man. He was quick to wash away his
nerves however, thanks to the aid of a bottle of vodka and a wholly
receptive hometown crowd. He probably cut the music for story-time one
too many times to grant his set my full stamp of approval, but he was
drunk, I was drunk, and it's not difficult to reengage my interest when
you're dropping transitions like "Return of the Mack" into "Nas Is
Like". He worked through numbers by J Dilla, Radiohead, and his own
excellent "Do the Astral Plane", providing a fittingly OCD cap to a
momentously OCD weekend.
sweaty shirtless bro, I let you cut in front of me so you would keep
moving and get the fuck away from me. Not so you could gyrate in a K
induced stupor two-inches in front of my face. Same goes to you
overzealous water throwing girl. I realize that within your ecstacy
riddled brain you probably think that everyone around you would like to
be as drenched as you are, and you may even garner a couple high-fives
from like-minded dimwits, but your mouth was on that water bottle and I
don't even want to think about where your mouth has been this weekend.
of the weekend goes to Matt John for "Hello Again (California
Sunrise)". No clue who this dude is or if he was even aware of the
happenings in Detroit, but his tune was omnipresent all weekend long,
even if it was just inside my head.
bit earlier in this review I compared the specs of the fest to what it
would be like if it was held in Boston. Laughable really as one can only
imagine the hellish nightmare that promoters would be dragged through to even
get the ball rolling on something comparable in scope. And a bar that
serves alcohol after 2 AM!? Forget about it.
left the fest with no concrete gut feeling that I need to go back next
year. My car shit the bed on the ride home, turning an already daunting
13-hour drive into a 19-hour drive. I spent more money on a hotel, car
repairs, and a new cell phone than I could really afford. I still
haven't listened to anything resembling electronic music since returning
home. But all it really takes is one glance of this photo of Sven,
courtesy of Detroit Free Press, to remind me that the trip was no joke: