A journey into techno, modern art, and technology in the Hart of Detroit.
My journey started as a typical one, headed East on I-94 on a sunny Friday afternoon. I kept it rather simple this year. Pack light and leave little room for distractions. I was once again meeting up with my counterparts from several corners of the United States at various times leading up to, and during, the Movement 2015 festival in Detroit.
The last member to join this year would actually be my first point of contact. By the time by rubber tires had warmed to the pavement he had already made the long trek from Tennessee to Detroit. Leaving his slightly perturbed wife, toddler in hand, to spend the weekend performing quality family time activities such as a trip to Dollywood and watching a baby guerrilla tightly cling to his mothers back. No, his trip would be different. Though the places he was about to visit could be described as a post-modern theme park and the beings he would encounter no doubt fit for a zoo. These are the tough sacrifices those of us with families must make for quality techno these days.
My drive seemed short and uneventful aside from the small traffic backups and modest maneuvers made in an attempt to dodge them. Which, more than likely, only added to my time on the road. I arrived at the hotel hungry and anxious to start our weekend. I was greeted at the room door with a familiar face from a timeless friendship. A smile, a handshake, and a hug, all while sloshing around a quart mason jar of homemade kombucha–rita.
After sharing a few drinks and settling in, we were off to grab some food and start our nightly adventure. We decided on dinner at what has now become a tradition at least twice every Movement weekend. We traversed through the construction on Woodward Avenue and Campus Martius Circle for the new M1 Rail streetcar line and made our way to the Grand Trunk Pub. It was rather busy and there was no longer outdoor seating. We found our way upstairs to the last available table. We ordered a few beers while we pondered which of the amazing sandwiches to choose and waited for a few other friends.
After a good meal, some laughs, and typical mid-west rudeboy banter we headed back to the hotel to get organized for tonight’s festivities. We hoped to make it to the Shepard Fairy “Printed Matters” exhibit opening at the Library Street Collective, or at the least catch a glimpse of the just finished two-hundred-foot tall mural. “How hard can it be?” I thought. Compuware building, Campus Martius Circle, 200 ft tall. It turns out our small amount of effort to discover this newly constructed street art did not surpass the threshold for actually viewing it. We moved on as time was beginning to become a factor. With my companions late decisioning on attending this weekend, he was unable to purchase a ticket for our chosen pre-party tonight, 3 Chairs. This left us with no choice but to scramble down to the Eastern Market and see what’s what at Bert’s. The plan was to gain access to the party early; as long as he could leave and come back later once things got moving. After a bit of anxiety, the plan went smoothly and we headed back to the hotel once again to meet up with two new members of our group who had just landed their flight from SLC.
We must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and were thrown a bit off track. After a few moments of confusion, I knew the general direction to head. I no more than pointed to our destination when there it was, beaming in the night sky, lit up with a black cityscape backdrop stood the Shepard Fairy mural with the iconic Andre the Giant star silhouette set in amidst the bold red, black, and white designs. Like most good finds, we discovered this one by mistake.
Our two new members made it safely to the hotel. This year our Western correspondent brought along a virgin to Movement and Detroit in general. He had plenty of mega festival experiences (Burning Man) with a deep appreciation and knowledge of Detroit Techno, so we knew he would assimilate to Detroit’s electronic music festival nicely. But did he have a strong enough shell or lack of moral consequence to spend three days and four nights with the likes of us? Only time could tell.
Tugging at the Soul of Detroit Techno
After what seemed like the entire weekend had passed, we were finally off to our first after party. We had decided early on to attend 3 Chairs featuring classic Detroit heroes: Marcellus Pittman, Theo Parrish, Rick Wilhite, and Moodymann. The happy and upbeat sounds would be a nice way to ease into the weekend and assure we see more than one after hours venue. Whilst also giving us the opportunity to pay homage to the more classic and tech-housey sounds, as opposed to the relentless hard techno we would be swimming through, in just over half a days time.
Upon entering Bert’s, in the famed Detroit Eastern Market, you’re welcomed with a well-lit wall mural telling a portion of Detroit’s long history through music. The iconic Motown landmarks and happy faces that helped shape the soul of this city, and its people, remind you that our beloved dance music, our reason for living this weekend, and the thing that moves us and inspires us all year long, could never have been possible without this strong foundation built on the industry, dreams, collapse, and struggle of the people of Detroit and the city itself.
Standing there you can’t help but feel a part of it. Just another chapter in the auditory history of our times. Another one of those gleaming, happy faces on the wall, your story yet to be told, your likeness yet immortalized with color and brush.
After walking through the corridor, you’re dumped into a large open space known as Bert’s Warehouse — a perfect place for a party. Even with a sold out show that closes promptly at four o’clock a.m. you’re guaranteed plenty of breathing room; and more importantly dancing room. The bar inside the main room was swelling with thirsty club-goers and managed by a team of slower-than-usual bar-tenders. This led to my first, and each subsequent, alcohol purchase to be a minimum of five drinks, typically two to three for myself, leaving the remainder as a gesture of friendship for my fellow mates. Though I quickly discovered a second, more efficient and less busy, bar located in another room which became my go to. Still, I decided to continue with my current drink formula.
To be completely honest I was a little less than impressed with the sound 3 Chairs provided. And in typical ol school Detroit cat fashion, the efforts put forth towards beat-matching and record mixing was definitely not adequate for festival weekend. But hey, sometimes that’s how it is in tha D. To give credit where it’s due the sets were all vinyl, to the best of my knowledge, at least at the times I had a clear view of the decks. Moodymann, of course, rocked the house. Everyone was so poised to hear his set and see him on stage. He’s the type of dj that can do no wrong. A true party set he gave us. Flat out just stopping tracks once in a while to grab the mic, hype the crowd and share some of his love and wisdom.
All in all it was good party. A great space with a nice outdoor area to catch some air or smoke without having to elbow your way through hundreds of people bottlenecked at a small door. I vaguely remember artists painting on large wooden sheets intermingled with the crowd outdoors. Though I could not confirm this with my cohorts, leading me to believe it had been another time, another place, another momentary lapse in memory… Though if were true, this would just be another sentiment solidifying the embracement of the arts and artists as a whole right here in the heart of true Detroit culture.
Saturday: Amazing Sets, Crowd, Stage, & Sound Improvements
Saturday morning started like most during festival weekend. Late. With a few stories of the previous night and a mad dash to gain some much-needed nourishment and some early drinking. We felt like breakfast food was the best sounding option at the time. I remembered the Hudson Cafe had put together a nice breakfast spread with a bright and clean interior. Apparently this is quite the spot as the wait was billed at 50 minutes. We decided to walk around a bit, maybe fall into another breakfast spot close by. With similar waits everywhere we struck out. This did, however, give us the opportunity to view the Shepard Fairy mural which was conveniently situated across the street. We also caught a glimpse of his unmistakable work upon an old water tower atop a building close by.
The wait ended up being longer than an hour, which gave me time to check in with my family and have a wonderfully elaborate conversation with my two-year-old daughter. Once we were finally seated the meals and java did not disappoint. I highly recommend if you can get there before the crowds, otherwise skip it.
It was now well afternoon and because we were already close enough to Hart Plaza we thought it best to grab our wristbands now. This would be a choice decision as we would spend the next ten hours or so soaking up music, dancing, and enjoying everyone’s collective happiness. Not to mention we probably missed the majority of the wait in line.
One member of our group thus far had a GA weekend pass, the other two had will-call VIP weekend passes. While they jumped in line to garnish their wristbands I headed down to the media check-in for my credentials. I was quickly in and out and back to the crowd beginning to swell at the ticket tent. I didn’t time the entire process but it seemed to be about forty-five minutes. Not entirely out of question for a wait, and defiantly in the realm for a typical GA will call ticket wait at Movement. However, I was confused by the intermingling of the VIP and GA will call. In previous years the VIP ticketing area was right by the VIP/Media entrance and was as smooth as could be.
Our two VIP ticket holders did emerge out of line before the GA, though the GA had entered first. This could surely be accounted for by the line attendant rather than favoritism in this instance. They wanted to catch a bit of Midland‘s set so they headed straight in. I waited for my comrade to emerge so we could get back to the hotel and link up with the last remaining member who would be arriving shortly.
I’d been planning an interview with Kangding Ray prior to his set this afternoon, though our schedules just couldn’t seem to coincide, so we planned a tentative scheduling for the following day.
After a short time at the hotel I left everyone to bullshit and gain their footing as I was not to miss Kangding Ray’s live set at the Underground Stage. The crowd within the festival was still a bit sparse at this time, though a good gathering had formed for Kangding’s performance.
I was a bit concerned how the sound for the Underground Stage would pan out. Last year it started strong, yet was sporadic throughout the weekend. Entering the cavernous concrete bunker I was immediately welcomed by the still cool breeze stored by rock and Earth overnight. That, and the embracing sounds of Kangding Ray. I made by way down the gentle slope of the smooth ramp leading into the pit of the Underground Stage. About midway down I felt a jarring vibration which can only be produced from deep, sub bass emanating from a quality sound system and an experienced live performer. I had taken the time for a few photos and to converse with those not yet there about what they were missing. The low-end was so powerful at this point I could hardly even read my phone. How that for keeping millennials’ phones in their pockets?
I was literally wowed by Kangding’s set. The crowd was digging it and he seemed to be feeding off the energy and bass, having a wonderful time himself. About an hour in he slowed it down with a deep-seated, rolling bass line, only to bring it back up to a more energized interpretation of his recordings for a wonderful live experience. I could not have started my official Movement music experience in a better way.
The visuals for the Underground Stage were scaled back for 2015, in a sense, but not by quality in any means. Instead of the visual screen backdrop surrounded by large LED lights on each side, above, and in front of the performance table, this year the stage was more open, giving you a better view of the artists. Instead of a large screen and lights as a backdrop there was a more conventional stage lighting presence. Still as a background to the artist but with individual automated LED cans, creating the proper mood and action as the artists’ set, and the night, moved forward.
Paula Temple was up next on the Underground at six. She started off just as she ended her set and just as I had hoped for — hard as nails, pumping out tough tracks with an avid favoritism towards irresistibly classic ’90’s techno tracks. I took a break during the middle to catch a bit of sunshine while I still had the chance. This also gave me the opportunity to get a feel for what had progressed around Hart Plaza for Movement Detroit 2015.
There were lots of great, noticeable improvements, mainly by utilizing the space around Hart Plaza more efficiently. I first headed over to the VIP area to check out the extra amenities and posh chill areas provided. The crowd here was still rather sparse. Glancing out beyond the fencing I could see now Paxahau had moved the VIP guest list line over to the VIP entryway, separating it from the GA. This was a step in the right direction for those festival goers willing to pay the extra coin for VIP tickets. Though something was still slowing this process down as the line to entry was still extremely long and slow moving. Apparently part of the reason for the slow-moving lines was new scanned wristband technology this year.
I strolled around checking out some of the art installments, massage stations, dedicated bars and tents shaded from the sun and decorated with a cool night club vibe. Movement had increased the variety of options available, not only within the VIP, but also for the festival at large. More food, beer, and liquor options, most notably from Tito’s handmade Vodka. They also improved on some necessities this year such as lockers, cell phone charging, and handy signs on the ground helping direct traffic. These signs may sound corny or somewhat obvious, but I found them helpful.
It was barely mid-evening and my mobile battery was already starting to fade so I decided to give the cell phone charging a shot. I naively walked in thinking this was a free service, but it turns out they charge a fair price of just five dollars. They seemed to have every charger connection you could dream of with helpful assistance and good organization. However after nearly two hours, and an absolute desperation for my phone, I was still nowhere near full power. The gentleman working the counter was kind enough to allow me a second charge with the same ticket if I did so desire, though I thankfully did not have to take advantage.
Walking around the stages I was able to catch a bit of Recondite‘s live set. I first heard him play two years ago at the Klockworks afterparty during Movement 2013. At that time, I knew nothing about him and it was, in fact, his first appearance in the States. Everyone in my group was utterly bored with his set that year and could not count the minutes fast enough until Ben Klock came on after him. Throughout the next few years he has continued to gain press and traction and people seem to love both his productions and his live performances. He has dropped works on labels I respect such as Dystopian and Ghostly, and even earned Resident Advisors number one live act for 2014. I have given him a fair chance since my initial disappointment, streaming most of his tracks, even buying one or two. Though his production just never seemed to click for me.
So after seeing him garnish the top RA poll and getting a spot on the Movement Main Stage for 2015, I was hoping to give him another chance. Which I did. And again, found myself altogether dispassionate. It was boring for fucks sake! First I caught just a bit passing by and thought, maybe it’s just a downturn in the set. So I moved on. But then again I decided to post up directly behind the stage in the VIP area, where the sound is very good mind you, and give it a whole hearted, healthy listening. Sorry guys, I just don’t get it. Not for me and that’s my last attempt. His performances, and probably his recordings, are just not for me.
Taking the time to visit each stage, regardless of the music playing, I found a tremendous character in the sound quality across all stages. The crowds were fun-loving at the Red Bull Music Academy Stage and heady and dedicated at the Made in Detroit Thump Stage. I popped over to the new, or newly reimagined space, Sixth Stage where at the time was cranking some DnB with the Konkrete Jungle Detroit Showcase. Not typically my scene but at this point I started to see an active distinction in the music, and the fans, at each of the stages. Proving that Movement does have something for all modern electronic music fans.
As I made my way to the Beatport Stage I could see it was noticeably more packed than all the other stages at this point; overflowing with what was undoubtedly the younger crowd for the festival. It was congested enough with under-aged kids I didn’t dare muscle my way in to see the stage. As I stood there, pondering the demeanor and true intent of these folk, a gentleman walked up next to me, stopped with a hesitation to his step, then leaned over to his female companion with the low-toned, simple and concise remark, “Look at these idiots,” and walked off. I felt to it was a good time to exit.
I traversed back into the Underground to join my group and watch Developer absolutely destroy it with hard, pounding tracks. If Paula Temple is the hardest female in techno right now, Developer may just be the hardest male. Definitely a pair of relentless hard techno sets took place back to back that day in the Underground.
We next caught the classic Detroit sounds of Octave One. An exceptionally clean sounding set. Very classy, emitting good vibes to all. After Octave we moved over to the updated Bier Garden for some refreshments and a bit of time to relax. A small platform behind the beer tent was a welcome addition, giving space enough to dance and for a small high-top table. In addition to the satisfying expansions to the festival this year, there was also an added element of control. The spaces to enter and exit were more confined and sometimes bottlenecked. They also for the first time, closed off the option to meander out of the festival onto the Detroit riverwalk. Though not an option many would partake, I saw it as a disappointment.
While at the Bier Garden we considered hitting the Beatport Stage to catch Atom™ & Tobias. I had never heard the pair perform but loved several pieces from Atom™. I was half expecting the set to be more experimental and dreamy, but what we heard from the garden was not that at all. First of all there was no need to push our way through teenagers to hear the Beatport Stage, the sound was great right from the garden, without hardly any competing sounds from other stages. Atom™ & Tobias were beatin it. Very interesting stuff. It had a somewhat M_nus minimal / electro vibe at times channeling Plastikman.
There were so many choices of music at this time you just had to go on pure instinct rather than any predispositions. I would have loved to hear Henrick Schwarz continuing on the Beatport Stage, or even catch Cell Injection Underground, but no, this time was for one of the unsung heroes of Detroit sound, Robert Hood as his housey moniker Floorplan. This set turned out to the funnest, and all around best set of the night. This was party music. Chicago house with loads of female vocals and James Brown samples layered with good mid-weight techno. Hood once again invited (presumably) his daughter on stage, as he did last year, to pass the torch and introduce techno as more than just a party, he’s helping solidify it as a family affair.
This was also that set of the night where dusk begins to settle. The sun rays creep behind the shadows of the surrounding structures, a cool breath of wind touches your neck, and those bright colored lights beaming off the stage now glow in the night sky.
Drones, Clones, and Doppelgänger Foes
As the blue skies turned to darkness I grew mesmerized by the visual screen behind Floorplan; a graphic of an astronaut repetitively tumbling, lost in space. A scene desperately reminiscent of the movie Gravity. An odd pairing for such a fun-loving, disco-house set from Floorplan. Just after the blackness of the visual screen seamlessly blended into the night sky is when I first spotted it, or when it first spotted us rather.
I first just saw a single green light, probably a tower or a building in the distance I thought. An outpost of some kind. But then I caught a slow, calculated movement. Soon two red lights appeared and it was clear these lights were growing closer, growing… more aware. Then, they just disappeared — like that. Before I knew it an object arose directly above the stage with it’s red beating eyes peering down on the crowd. It seemed as if no one even noticed. I pointed into the sky and whispered to a friend, “a drone.” I realized my mistake and slowly lowered my finger away from the bot to the stage, nodding in acceptance of the track Floorplan was mixing and averting my eyes away from the craft. A smooth act of aversion and pure human ignorance I led it to believe. Immediately the two red lights flashed back to green and the idle robot rocketed into the sky. Higher and higher it rose, exploring the tops of nearby skyscrapers, though no doubt keeping a watchful eye on the crowd below. It hovered and skated across the night sky for what seemed like hours. It finally maneuvered its way back close. Recording one final observation before taking refuge behind the stage where it began this endeavor.
And just like that it was gone. No more peering red lights. No more floating astronaut. And the crowd just danced on.
After that performance, I started to question whether my imagination had gotten the best of me again. It was time for a clean getaway. We headed back underground for a safe haven away from this unmanned technology. I was sure it could manipulate its way through the concrete vestibules leading to the Underground Stage. But could it withstand the pressure from those high decibels and low frequencies? Could it handle Regis? No doubt matching this particular environment in any professional testing grounds proved a befitting task for even the most scrupulous pilots, and was deemed unfit for further research. We should be safe for now.
Oddly enough, the first half of Regis’ set was somewhat tame. The tracks were interesting and made for good listening, but some of the mixes were rather drawn out, leading my ear to prepare for a massive bass drop into complete, unruly techno. Instead, he just led into another interesting, yet good listening track. Mixing with no headphones in what seemed to be an Ableton live set may have led a number of mixes to be perfectly matched, yet completely out of phase. A member of our group had previously broken away from the menacing techno projecting from the cavernous Underground and retreated to the minimal Ibiza flava from Windsor’s own. We decided to join him and get a bit of fresh air.
The sound on the Main Stage was amazing. Richie‘s set was clean and rockin and the tracks were good. But the overuse of the same effect and edits, not only for drops, but just right in the middle of any track, every track, grew tiresome rather quickly. Then it happened. Our second and final encounter.
I again spotted the unmanned aerial vehicle hovering just over Rich’s head, patiently awaiting its next move to swarm in on some unsuspecting EDM fan. Thank god we were off to the right of the stage, still sheltered by the concrete structure above. The other member of our group may not have been so lucky, and had a concurrence of all his own.
A wild-eyed, six-foot two-inch new-age hippie with long, curly hair, a course beard and a mustache over his lip. Clad with dark sunglasses, a fedora straw hat, home-cut capris, and lightweight, slip-on shoes with no socks. A Northerner long thought subdued from years of living in the South. While back in his native lands his brow grew firm, head slightly tilted with a modest wink in one eye. He may have even started to subconsciously point again once conversations grew increasingly aggressive. No doubt an easy target in a sea full of millennials, manged-up, eagerly awaiting the next beach ball to pounce, or possibly just take a few swings at a stuffed cat dangling from a stick with a ball of yarn. Yes, an easy target for the UAV — a perfect candidate for their clone reinterpretation program.
He was also caught off guard by the lights, mesmerized by this advanced technology cautiously floating above the crowd. Maybe it was a combination of the lights, the kids still sporting neon sunglasses, Richie’s obsessive use of effects… but he couldn’t take his eyes off it — like he had been beamed in the face with a spotlight at a Blue Oster Cult concert. It grew closer, dipping and dodging its way just above the crowd in what seemed like space enough to reach out and snag the thing out of the sky.
I can see it now, a thirty-inch robotic insect persistently buzzing overhead, straw hat now in hand swatting and shooing it away, fighting for personal space while trying not to lose your footing… With any luck this would leave a permanent mark on his psyche. Questioning all forms of technology from this point forward: elevators, jukeboxes, vending machines… We knew this was serious, but at the time couldn’t begin to grasp the pure gravity of this confrontation.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was waiting in the unacceptably long line for the men’s VIP bathrooms that it became clear. I cherish the fact the majority of my friends are quite tall. It makes them easy to spot in a crowd and exceptionally useful in festival terms. So picking out the long, curly hair from a crowd was something I became accustomed to. I spotted what I thought to be my friend though I knew good and well he was not in the VIP section at this time. I brushed it off at first but needed to get a closer look. Mistaking someone from behind is one thing, but once we got closer it turned his head for a profile view and I almost dropped my drink. The resemblance at first glance seemed uncanny. We snapped a quick photo for proof; texting it on and filed it away as a doppelgänger sighting.
Though was it? Was this just another coincidence of two humans looking extremely similar? Or was it something else altogether? Had those drones actually been collecting DNA specimens from unsuspecting festival goers for some type of cruel, advanced cloning program? Scanning retinas, heat-mapping, waiting until you’re long gone from Hart Plaza, dancing the night away at after parties or spooning your mates back at the hotel room. Then it reemerges from the depths of the festival grounds, retracing its heat maps collecting leftover carbon dioxide and hair follicles.
Later, at the Underground Stage during Marel Dettmann, we had the opportune chance to compare these two beings side-by-side. It was true, they could be easily mistaken in a crowd setting, or possibly even by a police body-cam, but there were distinguishable differences. The clone was not as handsome that was for sure. It’s nose was more pointed and body, face, and limbs more skeletal. It had clearly not sufficient time to mature since its initial reproduction. Foiling it from any serious plans of host replacement or mass populous integration. We had caught it, this time. Next time maybe we won’t be as lucky.
I thought possibly even long standing techno icons were susceptible to this drone fondling after seeing this photo of Steve Rachmad also running into his doppelgänger. He was smart enough to snap a photo of his twin, which would have no doubt lead to the imminent termination of the program altogether, had his twin not turned out to be none other than Detroit’s own Stacy Pullen. I thought we may have had them…
Now that’s been foiled, back to the music.
After enough of Hawtin’s effects and the threat of another drone sighting we headed back to the underground for the second half of Regis‘ set, which was amazing. I may have not seen his direction early on in the performance, but he truly knew how to cap off a headlining set at Movement Detroit. Towards the end he dropped Surgeon’s “Magneze” followed by another 2-3 of the most recognizable hard techno tracks ever. A page directly out of Jeff Mills Live at the Liquidroom Tokyo. He closed out with a Detroit-to-Berlin classic “Changes of Life” from Waveform Transmissions Vol. 1, ensuring hearts were lifted from our chests and euphoria ensued.
As we made our way out of the festival grounds I believe I heard a classic Detroit track being played from nearly every other stage to close out that night. Something to leave you with and help on your journey for the remainder of the night. Our night, however, would be more restrained, skipping any after hours to regain strength and mental agility for a full day and evening ahead tomorrow.
Sunday: Rødhåd, Dettmann, Klock, Interface/Scene
Sunday morning (afternoon) we decided to skip any thoughts of finding a new breakfast joint and settled on our second visit to the Grand Trunk Pub. Which was a great choice again. Not only did we get our exact same table from Friday but they also had a wonderful brunch menu and one dollar refills on either Bloody Marys or Mimosas. After a good meal it was time to get organized and get some serious work done.
While the rest of the group prepped at the hotel I was off for my interview with Kangding Ray. After a good chat just outside the media center at the festival grounds, I headed back to the hotel for some technical work and data backups.
Unfortunately missing a majority of the Ghostly International Showcase on the Made in Detroit Thump Stage, the first notable set on Sunday was none other than 90’s rave icon Josh Wink. He tossed out those classic bangers and vocal snippets like none other, setting the mood for a wonderful evening full of old friend meetups and reminiscing about the good ol days. Reinforcing the fact that true friendships never age no matter what length of time or distance has tested them.
Next up was Rødhåd who put on probably the most energetic and quite possibly the best set of the entire weekend. He rocked the crowd beyond dangerous levels, pushing their physical limits and auditory stamina.
Marcel Dettmann was on next bringing his sensual and beautiful genre palette to a hard hitting festival set, charming my perception of his djing skills even further.
We moved up for a chance to catch Matthew Dear for his Ghostly International Showcase closing set on the Made in Detroit Thump Stage. He wowed the crowd in usual fashion, but we just couldn’t miss Ben Klock closing out the Underground Stage.
Klock, of course, nailed his set. Using his precision mixing and wonderful taste for the party to absolutely crush the crowd into submission.
The after party choice for the night was undoubtedly the Interface/Scene party at the Works. We headed out after giving our feet a bit of rest at the hotel, surprised to find a line that stretched around the building. It was a sold out show, but each preceding Movement year had similar success with a rather ease of entry. Nonetheless, we didn’t spend too much time in line as we eagerly awaited the scene inside.
Steve Rachmad brought it proper, leaving no doubt as to why he still remains one of the most exciting djs in the world to witness. Reeko was on next who I was patiently looking forward to. I have always gravitated to hard, Spanish techno and even though Reeko has been in the game for over a decade, he represents the next generation of the Madrid sound. The first half of his set seemed quite subdued, bringing in a few deep thumpers now and again but never keeping the pace. He then brought in a massively deep-bass track that flexed the sound system to good measure. He subsequently followed through with his track “To the Sun,” a recent release on Developer’s Modularz label. A slow working track that mid-way introduces a jackin, toned-down snare which leads even the most reserved fans to dance.
This single track mirrored his entire set as the remainder continued with immense, pulsating techno. Rødhåd was up next, although I don’t think his set matched the intensity he was able to gain earlier in the night, which would have been a nearly unattainable feat. The club, however, got a marvelous surprise as Ben Klock joined him on stage for a tag set. All in all a wonderfully curated party for Movement weekend, as always, from the joint efforts of the Blank Code and Droid Behavior camps.
Closing: Top Notch Sound & Artists, Unacceptable Lines
My participation in Movement 2015 had come to a close. Unable to attend Monday I left my Western correspondents behind for observations and annotations (which I have still yet to see). Paxahau had once again put on an exciting, fun, and successful Movement festival. There were many improvements this year, I thought, and the crowd seemed to be more genuinely serious and dedicated to the music itself, not just the experience. Paxahau has continually gotten more creative with the use of space in Hart Plaza. They have also added improvements furthering the involvement and comfort for those willing to spend their Memorial Day weekends in Detroit. The performers brought in were truly top-notch and world renowned. The sound was better than I can remember and it never seemed to fade or fluster after countless hours of abuse. The subtle changes in lighting and presence at each of the stages was a welcomed effort.
Although the initial lines for both VIP and GA ticket holders were not out of questioning, the lines grew throughout each day and legitimately wore on the anticipations of many festival goers. Some even to the point deciding not to enter the festival at all. Heading down to the festival you would first hear murmurs of wait times in line extending over two hours. As the day continued on these reports grew bleaker as some claimed wait times to push four hours. I, personally, had at least two friends who decided to not even attempt entry into the festival either from already waiting an unreasonable amount of time in line, or from the sheer length and magnitude of the line seen from the street.
Giving credit to Paxahau, they attempted to quickly right their wrongs of intermingling those Very Important People who paid extra to receive special treatments and the general admission will call lines. They did their best to use the technology of their app to inform their audience of changes and possible ways to speed up the process. (Side Note: the Movement App needed some work this year. It was slow, clumsy, and at times unintuitive.) Regardless of these pursuits, and any forgiveness for using a new ticketing system, some of the wait times for Movement attendees, or those who subsequently chose not to attend, were unacceptable for a festival and promotion team of this stature.
Like most hiccups seen in previous Movement years I’m confident Paxahau will do their best to ensure similar fates are not seen in the future. Though they have continually kept the more corporate pitfalls out of the Movement festival, I hope this recent tightening of securities and watchful eyes will not dampen the outlook for future festivals to come.
The music and weather were beautiful all weekend long. Headed west on Interstate 94 the elements moved from warm and hazy to slight spats of sprinkled rain, transitioning back to bright rays of sunshine parting their way through the clouds. And then, I could see it in the distance. The trees began to blur and soon there was a downpour rainstorm upon me. With my eyes to glass and my teeth clenched, I pressed on. The Earth cleansed our streets with a fresh, cool rain. Leaving behind nourishing water for Spring growth. Soon enough the storm broke and dwindled back to a shower. The clouds turned back to a fluffy white and the sky a rich blue. Making way for the sun to warm the Earth once again, just as the lyrics from Sandra Electronics eerily chimed in the background “Everything’s fine, yeah, Everything’s fine.”
As I advanced closer to home there were profound wind gusts struggling to nudge me off the road, pushing me back the way I came, trying to force me once again, back to the city of Detroit.