Excitement was in the air as our crew landed at Detroit’s Wayne County airport two Fridays ago, May 26th, for the unofficial kickoff of Summer in the city that gave birth to Techno. Having never been to Detroit, nor having never attended Movement I was personally overcome with curiosity and a sense of eagerness to immerse myself in Detroit’s vast musical culture – both within the festival grounds and at the many parties happening around the city. I was excited to see artists I love and to check out ones I’d never heard of. Everything I’d heard about Movement – both from fans and performers – was that this was something every electronic music fan needs to experience. And the time was finally upon us.
For those who have never attended Movement, it’s important to realize that the parties happening around the festival – both official and unofficial – play as much a part in the weekend as the actual event itself. For that reason I’m going to break our wrap-up down into two parts: the festival and the parties.
Part 1: The Festival
Located in the heart of Detroit, Hart Plaza to be exact, Movement is easily accessible by foot from many hotels in the area. It’s also a hop skip and a jump from our neighbors to the north. Windsor, Canada is only separated from Michigan by the Detroit River. The festival grounds, while housing six stages, are actually the perfect size where walking from one stage to the next only takes a few minutes. Most of our time was spent at the picturesque Pyramid Stage, which has breathtaking views of the Detroit River and Canada across the way; the Stargate Stage which is named for the huge Stargate monument (see pictures) and was sponsored by Thump, and of course the Main Stage which comes in the form of an amphitheater viewing area that optimizes for sound and vantage points. Of course we also stopped by the Red Bull Music Academy stage, the Resident Advisor Underground Stage (which many fans dubbed “the dungeon”), and the Made in Detroit Stage. But with so much music happening it was hard to keep it locked in one place.
The festival grounds made home to some amazing food, many of the vendors in the form of food trucks, and there was plenty of merch to pick up from the likes of Dirtybird, Aptemal Clothing (founders of the “Detroit Hustles Harder” line), and plenty of others. For my friends and me, the VIP upgrade was completely worth the extra $100, with an expansive VIP area that contained art installations, a lounge, hammocks, bathrooms, bars, and of course the ability to catch surprise pop-up sets from GRiZ B2B Muzzy Bearr and Mija B2B J. Phlip. A very happy birthday to GRiZ who was there celebrating his birthday in his home of Detroit.
Though I could go on and on about the features of the festival and its amazing crowd (both friendly and well-educated), for us here at MMIBTY it’s all about the music. And boy oh boy was there some fantastic music to witness over the three-day stretch.
For day one, Saturday, our team had circled local legends Golf Clap to kick things off. The sun was shining and we headed over to the Pyramid Stage where booming Tech-House was pumping through the speakers. Hugh and Bryan had smiling faces as they cycled through banger after banger and the combination of their in-house dancers, “Golf Clap” fold-up fans in the crowd, and the true blue of the Detroit River made this a scene perfect for kicking off the three-day weekend.
Other highlights from day one included Cassy on the Stargate Stage, Dusky at the Pyramid Stage, Nicole Moudaber on the Main Stage, Stacey Pullen on the Stargate Stage, and Richie Hawtin “Close” on the Main Stage. On a personal level, Stacey Pullen stole the day for me and it was amazing to see this Detroit legend up close and personal showing us why he’s such an important part of the scene.
Days two and three carried on much in the same way, hopping around various stages and taking in the sights and sounds of the festival. The weather became more of a factor as both Sunday and Monday saw occasional showers and even some lightning that caused primetime sets to pause, most notably Deadmau5 as Testpilot, until the storms passed.
Highlights from days two and three included Heidi, Cajmere, Shiba San, Joseph Capriati, Seth Troxler, Dixon, Patrick Topping B2B Nathan Barato, Barclay Crenshaw, Paco Osuna, Jamie Jones, and Carl Cox. Unfortunately there were several artists I missed due to conflicting schedules (I’m looking at you Adam Beyer), but that’s the blessing and the curse of having such a large, diverse lineup. Additionally, the rain showers on Sunday caused me to miss the second half of Dixon’s set and caused fans to endure a long, drawn-out open mic night from Testpilot (Deadmau5) who was complaining and making bad jokes while he waited for the green light to play his set. Myself and those around me were rolling our eyes at Testpilot’s antics which were capped off by a large belch into the usb mic. To top that off, Testpilot’s computer crashed mid-set and we only saw about 30 minutes of music. Luckily he made it up to fans by posting his set on his BBC Radio 1 residency (see below).
Top 5 Sets From Movement 2017 (in order):
Part 2: The Parties
One important aspect to note about Movement, for those who haven’t attended, is the parties are just as much a part of the experience as the festival itself. When people talk about the “community” aspect of Movement, the parties are a huge reason why. The entire weekend from beginning to end offers plenty of opportunities to check out clubs, bars, restaurants, and warehouses featuring many of the amazing artists booked to play the festival, and many who are just there to spread the love of Techno and electronic music to the visitors and natives of Detroit (guys like Lee Foss and Louie Vega to name a couple).
As with the festival my team wishes we could have made it to every party, but it was simply impossible. So we very carefully selected a series of events to attend and we certainly weren’t disappointed.
We decided to keep Friday night low key, though the pre-parties looked fantastic, so things really cranked up for us Saturday night when we hit TV Lounge for Soul Clap’s House of Efunk. First off, TV Lounge was one of my favorite venues in Detroit, offering an expansive outdoor terrace plus an inside room and an outside alley. The real treat of the night was jamming out to hours of music spun by veteran Louie Vega. The vibes were fantastic and we met so many amazing people. While the party went through the morning and long after the sun came out we had to conserve energy for the days ahead.
After Sunday’s day two festivities at Movement, our group split up due to differing preferences. I found myself at Tangent Gallery for “No Way Back” and its 10-year anniversary party. My good friend, who I dubbed my “Techno Sherpa”, told me this would be a party I had to attend to get a true taste of Detroit. I showed up as the party was in full swing with a massive line around the block. Inside there was the main room which had a warehouse feel and warm, moving bodies. The side room contained ambient sound for those who wanted a different experience.
For most of the night we found ourselves outside where there were speaker stacks set up so we could enjoy the cool night air while still dancing the night away. Musically I was new to the DJs spinning and a lot of the 4×4 beats had elements of Acid House which is always nice. Knowing Old Miami was only a few hours away, I decided to cut out once the sun came up so I could get a few hours of sleep. “No Way Back” was truly a Detroit party and while it may not have been my favorite party of the weekend it certainly was an event worth experiencing.
The main event, the one I was told I couldn’t miss, was at Old Miami called “Need I say More”. This event is legendary among the Detroit and Movement community and takes place starting Monday morning of Movement weekend. That’s right, this one is not for the faint of heart.
I showed up around noon and there was a massive line queued up to get inside, where Seth Troxler was at the entrance literally collecting money to get in. The venue itself was perfect for a Summer day party, almost like a large backyard BBQ at your buddy’s place. The difference? Large Funktion-One speaker stacks booming out music spun by the likes of Doc Martin, Kevin Saunderson, The Black Madonna, and several others. The music was funky, the weather was warm, and “Need I Say More” undoubtedly lived up to the hype.
After making our way through the final day of Movement, we put on our Techno Black and headed to the Masonic Temple for an epic b2b set performed by two stars of the weekend Joseph Capriati and Carl Cox. When I say this was an underground Techno rave, you can take that literally and figuratively. The large main room of the Masonic Temple was below the ground floor and almost felt like a space ship when we walked in. The lights were dark, the music was dark, and the creatures were certainly out to play.
After spending much of the night towards the back of the room, dancing to thumping 4×4 beats, I ventured to the front and center of the room where I had the pleasure of watching Carl Cox dance around the stage and Joseph Capriati flip all sorts of faders and knobs on the mixer to create a seamless flow of music that provided some of the highest energy we had seen all weekend.
Both Cox and Capriati had the utmost respect for each other on stage, gesturing and speaking into the mic, almost bowing down to one another as each of them took his turn to mix in music. And that really plays into one of the important themes of the weekend: respect. Respect for the music, respect for the artists, respect for the city, and respect for the fans.
Cox and Capriati was the perfect ending for a fantastic weekend that already has me looking ahead to 2018. I want to thank everyone who made the weekend possible and especially the staff from Movement and Paxahau. Thanks to all the security, and vendors, and bartenders and much love to all the people we met along the way.
Feel free to give us a shout on anything above or anything we forgot!