Yes, there will be a DEMF 2014. The Detroit Electronic Music Festival will take place 4th of July weekend, 2014. This revived festival is not to be confused with Movement (still taking place), which DEMF was the predecessor.
DEMF originally took place on Memorial Day weekend in Hart Plaza, downtown Detroit, as Movement does today. Festival founder Carol Marvin ran DEMF from its inception in 2000 until leaving at the end of 2002 amid financial struggles and a lawsuit with Carl Craig, stemming from Marvin firing Craig as DEMF artistic director in 2001. The festival undertook new management and several new names in the years that followed, finally settling in with current promotor, Paxahau, in 2006 and stuck with the Movement name.
This DEMF will be a free festival from July 4 through July 6, with 100 electronic acts performing in six different spaces around downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius Park.
Programming will have a Detroit focus, says Detroit techno pioneer Juan Atkins, who is helping curate the lineup. Though it’s clear there will also be an international scope with major artists. The DEMF website states, “The International and Main Stages will feature top DJs from 20+ countries of the world, creating a veritable Olympics of electronic music, a United Nations of Techno. Top clubs from the world’s major cities will be sending a selected DJ to act as an ambassador of their country and electronic music industry.” The ‘veritable Olympics of electronic music, a United Nations of Techno” bit is quite corny. Are each of the superstar Dj’s going to show up in a track-suit showcasing their national pride and discussing world affairs over tea after their sets? On a high note, one of the international clubs is supposedly Germany’s famed Tresor.
Over the same three-day span, the newly launched Federation of Electronic Music Technology fest, FEMT, will be happening inside Ford Field, the Detroit Lions’ football stadium, with roughly 50 acts performing. This one isn’t free though – 3 day passes cost $300 plus fees, and VIP packages run for $1,500.
Full details on the lineups for both events have yet to be announced. Very little information is given on the DEMF website and FEMT information on the Ford Field website states performers will include Detroit’s Underground Resistance and two Juan Atkins outfits, Model 500 and the reunited Cybotron.
So what do we think about the revival of the original DEMF? There have been talks about whether the city of Detroit can sustain two major electronic music festivals within six weeks of each other. The new DEMF is also likely to face competition from Chicago’s Wavefront Music Festival, also planned for July 4th weekend.
I believe any event that promotes techno in the city of Detroit in a positive and healthy manner deserves a chance. Though I have some reserves about Marvin’s capabilities and her motives. Even though she’s claimed “We’ll never use the term ‘EDM,’” are they just trying to ride the coattails of the successful Movement festival and EDM buzz? Or do they think Paxahau has moved too far away from the roots of Detroit by bringing in zeitgeist performers just to sell tickets and fill Hart Plaza with a bunch of newbie teenagers decked out in neon, listening to dance music because its the next cool thing?
I have my own difficulties with overall ‘talent’ brought into Movement over the years but when it comes down to it they still do an excellent job at showcasing local artists, bringing international talent, encompassing the entire scope of electronic music genres, staying true to good, underground techno and when its all said and done making a successful event with great sound that keeps growing every year and bringing in revenue for Detroit.
Will it be great to have a free techno festival in downtown Detroit again? Yes, especially with Movement’s recent hikes in ticket prices. That being said, are you willing to pay $300 for a weekend pass to FEMT, or $1500 for a VIP?
More details on the lineup of DEMF 2014 and FEMT will need to be announced before it can confirm its placement in the new competitive landscape of US electronic music festivals. The whole idea and language behind the new DEMF/FEMT seems to be a bit too grandiose. Just listen to this from the FEMT event page. “First-Ever Technologically Advanced Stadium Club Experience. Specification | World Party Unprecedented Motions in Light | Sound | Technicolor | Machines | Dance | Digital | Robots” I mean, what?! I’m sorry but “Technologically Advanced Stadium Club Experience” has EDM written all over it, whether they know it or not. And it surely does’t sound like something I’d fork over 300 bucks for. And “Technicolor“? What is this Wizard of Oz? Machines? Robots? When was this written, 1981?
It’s difficult to speculate exactly what the lineup and schedule for DEMF 2014 and FEMT 2014 will be or how the events will turn out. I hope it does succeed and adds another viable techno event to the calendar in Detroit, but they surely have some work to do. Not only to organize the event properly but to throw away these event descriptions it seems they’ve saved since since the Reagan administration and market towards an audience that is still relevant and willing to invest their time and support.