Festival Review: Movement Detroit

jamie jones movement
Jamie Jones – Photo Credit-Douglas Wojciechowski

Every year I feel like I’m bombarded with posts and news about Ultra, Electric Zoo, and EDC. However, I almost never see or hear anything about Movement Electronic Music Festival, which is one of the most underrated music festivals in the U.S.  Movement takes place in Detroit every every Memorial Day Weekend and it has done so since 2000. The management of the festival has changed over the years, and it currently is run by Paxahau who does a fantastic job. Many people don’t know this but techno was made in Detroit in the 1980s. Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May who are known as the Belleville Three are credited with creating and heavily influencing the sound of Detroit Techno. Movement is so different from most electronic music festivals in the U.S. because it stays true to the origins of techno music in Detroit. Movement has mostly techno musicians on its lineup every year because it wants to stay true to the sound of Detroit techno. However, there is always something for everyone as there is always house, trance, hip-hop, and some EDM on the lineup. It is the biggest techno music festival in the world, and people come from all over the world and the U.S. every Memorial Day Weekend to experience it.

Movement 2014 marked the 15th anniversary of the creation of this festival. This would also be my 5th year going to Movement, and it had quickly become my favorite musical event each year. I first went to Movement in 2010 when I was a senior in high school, and I had gone to it every year since then.  I live in the suburbs 20 minutes south of Detroit, and every year my friends and I drive up each day to attend this phenomenal festival.  This year I was extremely excited once again, and the lineup looked fantastic. This year my goal was to try and see more of the big name techno and house acts and stay away from the EDM acts as much as possible. During the three days of Movement 2014, I would say I did a good job completing this goal. In addition to the five stages they have each year, this year Paxahau added a Silent Disco stage sponsored by Ford. At this stage festival-goers couldn’t hear the performing artists’ set unless they had a pair of headphones on. It sounded like a really cool idea, and I ran into many people who said they had tried it and loved it. However, I never got around to trying it, and not checking out the Silent Disco was one of the few regrets I had during the weekend. With five other stages though, there was plenty of amazing music to experience and enjoy.

One of the reasons I love going to Movement every year is that my friends and I get to enjoy a ton of techno and tech-house. You can’t find this music at other electronic music festivals because nowadays those festivals are almost entirely EDM-based acts. Movement does have some EDM acts, but they only make up a small portion of the entire lineup. One of our favorite stages this year was the Made In Detroit stage which focuses on Detroit-based artists and showcases mostly Detroit techno. In past years we haven’t spent a lot of time at this stage, but this year it seemed like we always ended up over there when we didn’t know what stage to go to. On the night of Day one we found ourselves at this stage once again, and we quickly found our way to the front. We saw talented artist DBX create techno live in front of us using a variety of synths and software; it was really cool to watch him make music live and see what direction it went in! After him we saw hometown hero Stacey Pullen who had the whole crowd dancing and moving. That night we also ventured over to the MOOG stage to catch Ed Rush & Optical. Ed Rush & Optical are signed to RAM Records, and they threw down an amazing drum and bass set that had my friends and I dancing hard the entire time. I always love some good ole drum and bass, and Ed Rush & Optical did not disappoint.

On Day 2 I bounced around from stage to stage during the day, and I ended up seeing almost all of the Martinez Brothers’ set at the Beatport Stage. The Beatport Stage is probably my favorite stage because there’s always good house music coming from it, and it is right next to the Detroit River. There’s a small pyramid structure on one side of the stage so you can stand on it, face the Detroit river, and watch the boats go by. It’s always an amazing feeling to be able to dance and have a beautiful view of the water. At the Beatport Stage on Day 3 I saw Skream who threw down a fantastic disco house set. The dubstep legend has started creating and playing house music, and I loved his set at the Detroit Mad Decent Party last fall. Also on Day 3 I saw Pete Tong, who I had been dying to see ever since I saw his name on the lineup. He played a phenomenal set, and it was definitely one of the best I had seen throughout the weekend. The MOOG stage was more EDM-based, but they did have some indie-electronic artists, rappers, and some drum and bass. My friends and I did not spend a lot of time at the MOOG stage because we wanted to try and enjoy as much techno and house as possible. However, we did make it over to see some of Konkrete Jungle Detroit’s 3 hour set during Day 1. They played a great drum and bass set, and you could feel so much energy coming from them and the crowd at their set. On the final night my friends and I headed over to the MOOG stage to see DJ Snake’s first Detroit performance. I’m not a huge fan of trap, but DJ Snake has a really unique sound so I was really excited to see him. Let me tell you DJ Snake did not disappoint! He threw down one of the best sets I’ve recently seen, and the entire crowd had so much energy. There were trees on the left side of the MOOG stage, and people had climbed them and were raging 30 ft high into the air; that was a crazy sight to see! DJ Snake’s set might have been my favorite that weekend just because my friends and I were able to just go crazy and have a blast with everyone around us. Some of my favorite sets from the weekend came at the RedBull main stage which was an amphitheater. This stage could hold the most people because of that reason, and this is where the big names played. On Day 2 I got to witness John Digweed and Richie Hawtin play great sets here. It was awesome to see these huge and influential artists, and my friends and I really liked John Digweed’s set. Hometown hero Richie Hawtin had a great set too, and he got to play for 2 hours. On the final night at RedBull we got to see house legend Carl Cox close out Movement 2014. I was super excited to see Carl, and he did not let us down! I wasn’t very into his set at first, but the longer it went on the more I get into it. By the end of his set I was dancing so much, and so was everyone else at the Redbull Stage. Having Carl Cox end the final night of Movement 2014 was fantastic, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

The music is obviously the thing that draws people (including me) to Movement. However, there’s the whole experience aspect too. Everyone I ran into and talked to was so nice and friendly, and it was a very diverse crowd. There were some EDM bros, but there were not a lot. There were actually a lot of people in their late 20’s and early 30’s there especially at sets like John Digweed’s and Carl Cox’s. My buddy Chris and I wear our morphsuits every year and have a theme with them. This year we dressed in leis and grass skirts and entertained fellow festival-goers on Day 1 and Day 3. Everyone loved us, and so many people took pictures of us. Also many people asked to take pictures with us, and they were always excited to their picture with us. Everyone throughout the weekend just seemed so happy, and nobody was rude to me or my friends. Probably the only complaint I had about the entire weekend was sound bleeding from stages into other stages. All 5 stages (not including the Silent Disco) are very close to each other, but usually this isn’t a a problem. However this year the MOOG stage was super loud and you could hear Baauer’s set while Richie Hawtin was playing at the Redbull Stage. The same thing happened when Flosstradamus was playing their set during Carl Cox’s set. Besides that though, there were no negative things that happened to my friends and I. People aren’t as wild as they are at other festivals too. At Ultra this year there were apparently 84 arrests during that festival. However, I had heard there were 0 artists this weekend at Movement. I’m not sure if that is true or not, but there were almost none because behavior isn’t a problem for people at Movement. One of the cool things about Movement too is that you can go and leave as you please; you don’t have to stay in the festival the entire day once you enter. We love this because we go back to our car at the parking garage (which is 3 blocks from the entrance), and we can take a break from the music and dancing. We also can eat and drink at our car which saves us money from buying booze and food inside. One of the best things about Movement is that you get to experience all this awesome music for a great price! A 3-day weekend pass is only $143 online, and that is if you get yours late. Presale weekend tickets start below $100! But even at $143 for a weekend pass, price that is so cheap compared to other very expensive music festivals. If you love techno music then you have to come to Movement 2015. Or if you just want to check out some awesome music with friendly people then you should come to Movement. Movement is the most underrated electronic music festival in my opinion, and I hope it will always be my favorite. The stories and memories I have from it are just too amazing. It keeps me coming back year after year, and I hope that someday you will check it out because you will be blown away!



Me during Day 2 of Movement at the Made in Detroit Stage


More pics of my Movement 2014 Experience can be found here

Movement Website

Movement Facebook