DEMF 2012: Prelude to a Movement

DEMF – A Brief Personal History

Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival, still affectionately known as DEMF, has become a thing of beauty to me. I have attended all festivals in the 12 years of existence except one (we’ll just call that a low time for the festival). Although DEMF has seen many changes throughout the years, highs and lows, amazing sets and unbelievable after parties, it will forever hold an undeniable place in my soul; just as the city of Detroit and techno music itself will.

 Movement 2009Way back in 2000, the year Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival was successfully launched, was the rise to the height of my crew’s fierce attendance of underground electronic dance music parties. Needless to say when word came that there was to be a 3 day electronic music festival in our favorite city within the underground scene and it was free – I was going to be there. I could feel something bigger, a pinpoint in the history of techno directly from the source, the birthplace of it all and it was all within my reach. Just a relatively short drive from where I stand right now. A drive we’d made before and would make plenty of times in the future. Although sometimes quite dangerous, they were all successful.

Back then I’m not even sure if I knew the music schedule for the festival, or that it mattered. I did know that this free, 3 day extravaganza would spiral into one culminating set by the then, and by some standards still, best DJ in the  world, Mr. Richie Hawtin. Which, for me, is still one of the most memorable sets in DEMF history. Nothing could have been more perfect for me at the first festival. It seems even the weather was better then any other in Detroit’s Memorial Day Weekend history, past, present and future.

Although I pay close attention to the Movement lineup these days it  has still always been about the experience of the festival, not just the acts that attend. Throughout a majority of the festival’s existence it has been more about that one chance every year that friends from all over the country would decent into the depths of Detroit and experience the music together. Whether it was in complete awe in the details of a phenomenal set, in a Detroit kick-step dance circle or just a crowded conversation with the beats as more of a backdrop then a focal point.

Yes the greater crew dwindled over the years, some moving further away, some just moving away from the music, but attendance likely dimmed from the added responsibilities of life itself. This, I now realize, may be the exact reason I have continued to attend each year. After all what was the purpose of attending those countless parties in the desolate wastelands of urban industrialization?  — Escape. Just for a night, even a few hours, or for as little as a moment. Not everyone has experienced it. But, for me, one of the places it can be found is deep within the frequencies of techno, at the electronic music festival known as Movement, in the Hart of Detroit.

What’s In a Name?

Movement 2012I’ve always felt a little funny about the various names chosen for Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival, which is possibly why I, along with many others, have continued to keep the DEMF moniker alive. Movement, FUSE-IN – When these names where introduced I felt like there was some corporate entity selecting a hip name that scored well in a poll of affluent, Gen-Y consumers. Although when these names originated it was the time in which the festival reigns where being handed back to the rightful hands of the originators of Detroit techno; Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson respectively.

After a few somewhat unsuccessful years, Paxahau, the current promoter, took control in 2006 and decided to go back to the name Movement. At the time and still to this day Paxahau is a name I respect for music and events in Detroit, so I was glad to see what they could do with the festival. But the name has still yet to stick. Though as I gained the inspiration for writing this post the name Movement finally began to hold some meaning. For me it is a Movement. And movement’s are not without their trials and tribulations, the ol school and the new blood, the good and the bad, the posers and the heads, the fads and the classics… for me it has seemed to gain a life of its own – the strings being pulled by each of the stage managers and A&R yet like a huge balloon in a windy parade no one can predict exactly where the festival, the music, the Movement will be headed next.

Movement 2012

When the lineup for Movement 2012 first started rolling in I’ve got to be honest I wasn’t extremely impressed with everything I was seeing. The festival was lacking those driving forces in current international or European techno. Yes, I know it’s Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival and it has always done a great job paying homage to the city and it’s art. But techno has always been much more than that anyone can attest. While this has been a reoccurring theme many times throughout DEMF, I felt with the 2011 Movement Schedule with acts by the likes of: Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Monolake, Cio D’ or, and Traversable Wormhole, that we had seen a re-emergence of European (or more accurately German) techno acts at Movement. Which I just wasn’t seeing here in 2012.

Sure it’s missing a lot of what I consider to be the zeitgeist in electronic music today, but after taking the time to really dig into the Movement schedule for 2012, I started to see what a quality festival this really was going to be.

Saturday – Movement 2012

It has been a long time since I’ve seen Mark Farina and his Mushroom Jazz series has continued as inventive and groovy dj mixes. This should be a perfect set for a sunny Saturday afternoon set at the Main Stage. This is about where the action ends for me at the Main Stage on Saturday. Next I’ll venture over to the Red Bull Stage, now known for it’s dubstep/drum n bass, for Actress. I had never been much of a fan but his recent album R.I.P. is an extremely solid effort. Because of the time and stage setup I don’t believe his set will be anything like his live set at Sonar 2011, but I’m interested to say the least.

Unfortunately I’ve usually been disappointed when venturing to the Red Bull Stage to catch an act. It seems the artist is usually pressured into hyping the crowd or is joined on stage with a rapper whipping a towel around and screaming words I can’t understand – not my kinda hip hop. When what I’m expecting to see is the artfully crafted original music and/or sets I’ve heard the artist perform elsewhere. Which is what I’m hoping to see from Photek, again at the Red Bull Stage. I plan on ending Saturday with a Detroit Staple, Mike Huckaby (Made in Detroit Stage) and Kompakt boss Michael Mayer (Underground Stage).

As far as after parties go for Movement 2012, there are tons of good, quality parties to hit. The ones I mention here are just where I’ve decided to attend, and I may hit a few others as well.For Saturday, CLR After Party is going to pump some true techno into my veins. It’s at Elysium, one of my favorite spots in Detroit and they’ll have a massive sound system just as they did last year. I don’t hold the Collabs sets in the same ‘unbelievable’ regard as past but it is going to be great no doubt. Plus I’m excited to see Drumcell and more excited for the chance to see CLR’s darkhorse posterboy Tommy Four Seven. As long as he smashes some beats close to those of his original works as of late.

Sunday – Movement 2012

With the exception of catching a Dopplereffekt electro set at the Underground Stage, this years Sunday schedule for Movement is all about the Main Stage and Beatport Stage. Carl Craig, Dj Sneak, Marco Carola and Loco Dice will all be at the Main Stage. All super quality, super talented Dj’s I don’t believe ever disappoint. For the record, as much as I always think the Beatport Stage is just a little too commercial-minimal-techhouse for me, it is always probably the funnest stage of the weekend. It has a great spot with some green grass and trees right by the water and if the sun is shining everyone is having a good time there no matter who is playing. And I’m guessing that should be the case while Heidi and Maya Jane Coles play back-to-back sets there on Sunday.

Sunday night’s after party is all about the Interface 36 / Scene party from our good friends Blank Code and Droid Behavior. Taking place at The Works this party has the makings for an amazing night: DVS1, Cell Injection, Raíz live PA, Luis Flores live PA, Jeff Derringer, Memnok vs. Tiari Live PA, Project 313 live PA, Dean Paul, Derek Michael live PA, Kero vs Annie Hall, Corbin Davis.

Monday – Movement 2012

Monday is going to be a day to sleep in, get some good grub and stroll into the festival just to kick it. I’m going to catch at least some of Radio Slave (Main Stage) just to see if he can’t bore me to into jumping into the Detroit River from tribal techhouse loops that carry on for 10 minutes plus. Seriously, his his VS set with Marcel Dettmann disappointed me so much at the CLR party last year it left a bad taste in my mouth until Marcel knocked it out the next night with his phenomenal set at the festival (thank you for that Marcel). Then of course we’re checking out the Project 313 live set (Made in Detroit Stage) from my boys Chad and Nick, true dedicated souls to the Detroit scene. It will also be nice to see Derek Plaslaiko’s set (Made in Detroit) and see how he’s grown throughout the years since leaving Detroit and making the pilgrimage to Berlin. I’ll probably see Chris Liebing (Main Stage) even th0ugh we’ll already see him at the CLR party Collabs set, where I’m sure he play much harder then the festival. Ideally I’ll close out the weekend with Jeff Mills (Main Stage). Since his set is only scheduled for an hour and a half, I’m banking on him destroying it – like live from the Liquid Room Tokyo but updated. I’ve heard doubts of this since “The Wizard” moniker is being used a lot regarding this set, so no telling where this set will go.

All in all I’ve very excited about Movement 2012 and wil no doubt have a great time. As will you if you decide to go.

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