A Look Back on Detroit’s Dazzling Movement Festival
As the summer comes to a close and Stereo Montreal throws another promising Detroit Love evening, we’d like to take the opportunity to look back on a mesmerizing Movement Festival experience, one that kicked off a whole summer of blissful music in style.
For three stellar days, booming bass lines echoed between the Detroit river and downtown’s Hart Playa. They unapologetically resonated across five stages full of character, attracting people like magnets, featuring acts with talent and charisma. Facing them, a sea of dancers freely choosing what sound to catch next, before moving on to the furious frenzy of after parties – welcome to Movement, or DEMF.
From dirty thumping beats to spontaneous fascinating encounters and everything in between, my first Movement experience was a ride to remember, coasting through varied musical sceneries with of course, at its core, a whole lot of techno.
This techno spirit came alive in many ways: percussions reverberating off of concrete, thriving solo dancers, soulful mixing of the Detroit sound and excited smiles uttering ‘you gotta go check this out’. There’s electricity in the air at Movement, with each performer, organizer and attendee coming together to construct a unique musical machinery that has been honed by years and years of history in the birthplace of techno.
A culture of acceptance and authentic appreciation of the arts is a recognizable rampant quality here, where the sun sets to dark grooves in dark rooms and daylight grows brighter to house-infused sunrise sets. It is my pleasure to present a highlight reel of the sets, tracks, anecdotes and events that made this weekend the unreserved musical blast that it was.
The ADID guru and his trademark dream house planted their magical seeds by the water. A smiling, communicative Lee and a responsive crowd was all the afternoon needed to kick things off on a positive note, full of mellow musical gems.
King of the Detroit techno second wave, king of Movement, a name that was on so many lips this weekend. Stacey Pullen’s style is steadfast, gripping, and keeps you on your feet with with excited rhythms and sampling. Stacey made many waves over the weekend, including an energetic rise and shine set at TV lounge and burning hot B2B with Loco Dice at Leland.
Detroit techno don Carl Craig set a dynamic tone for the festival’s first night, mixing organic instrumentation with resolute bass lines and artful track layering. Beyond performing, Craig is a true cultural ambassador of Detroit sound, with his Detroit Love project repping Motor City’s music all over the world, showcased at Movement’s Stargate Stage. A highlight? This track below, in a wonderfully reminiscent way – Honey Dijon rocked it at Piknic 2017 marking a memorable moment for those present.
A lesson in emotive trippiness from the maestro himself. Maceo delivered a modern storytelling set, complete with varied track selection and incredible visuals, dipping his paintbrush in genres while conserving his set’s singular identity. After a deep tech energetic takeoff, he slowed down the tempo mid-set, hovering above the ground with trippy vocal samples and finally landing on industrial, melodic, electro and even dub fields. We heard lots of unreleased gems, a well-received play of his tracks off of the Mutant 1 EP, and even his then unreleased Blade Runner theme remix – what a ride.
This lady and her spicy brand of house music belong on everyone’s radar. She was everywhere on Movement weekend – pre-parties, after-parties, in people’s minds and hearts. Kicking off day two with style and a vibrant set, she summed it up on her shirt: “it’s a soul thing”.
DJ John Jammin Collins & De’Sean Jones
I was strolling by the main stage when I heard a saxophone storm blowing…and inevitably made my way towards it. There stood the shining John Jammin Collins, harmonizing sharp house beats to De’Sean Jones‘ live sax playing, to the delight of the attentive crowd. It’s a great feeling to dive deeper into a personality and realize how positively emblematic they are – John Jammin Collins is a techno vet, of the legendary Underground Resistance crew, and guides the tours of the world’s sole techno museum, Submerge’s Exhibit 3000. Legend.
A night of banging B2Bs
We had Martinez Brothers b2b Loco Dice closing down Sunday and Stacey Pullen b2b Loco Dice & Seth Troxler b2b Matinez Brothers headlining the weekend’s most sought out after-party…and what a tech-house trip it was.
Those who’ve been lucky to get down to a set by either of these artists know how blissfully fun it can all be, feeling the purest urge to just dance to their bouncy mixing studded with hi-hats. Each of these artists unearthed undeniably rhythmic samples and layered them into an upbeat cocktail of a set. The after-party saw the transformation of Leland Club into a booming sauna, where a resilient crowd danced through the heat until early-morning funk pieces, like the closing track below.
Stacey « Hotwaxx » Hale
Bow down to Detroit’s first female house DJ, Stacey « Hotwaxx » Hale, and her soulful blend of old and new sounds. This queen started the last day by putting a smile on people’s face and a spring in their step, a downright funky one at that. Check it out in her latest mix for Deep Space Radio, below.
It’s raining vinyl
A surprise announcement punctuated the day with delight: pop-up vinyl sets in VIP. First up, the iconic Soul Clap delivered their funky bright vibes to a cheerful crowd, selecting their records with attention to detail. Outdoor lounge vibes at their best – see for yourself below.
They were followed by local crew Detroit Techno Militia, who graced the decks with original and vigorous record spinning, delivered with visible enthusiasm. DTM is a label and crew of DJs and producers known for their turntabling exploits, who continue to promote the Detroit sound with individual and collective talent.
Another artful vinyl set was delivered by Hito, who blasted expectations with a playful mix of techno and deep tech. The charismatic combination of her vinyl throwing, sound and smile was a winning recipe.
Mixing up genres
The last day saw an opening up of styles to welcome hiphop and Jazz, a smart tribute to the historical African-American common roots of these genres with techno.
Legendary Gang Starr member DJ Premier hit the decks cutting and scratching, with the first ever released hiphop record, Rapper’s Delight by Sugarhill Gang. His set spanned into an early hiphop and Golden Era history lesson, extending into a tribute to the lost main players of the game: Biggie, Tupac, Guru, Big L, Nate Dogg… A paradise for old heads, the massive audience testified to the Movement’s crowd’s understanding and respect of classic hiphop and its place at the festival.
Canadians Badbadnotgood cooked up an absolute storm at the Red Bull stage, with a drum-keyboard-guitar-sax ensemble taking jazz and experimental hip
hop instrumentals for a bashing musical ride. The artists, clearly on the same wavelength, deftly harmonized their respective sonic identities; there was something inherently respectful about how balanced they were, rotating through gripping experimental solos. Badbadnotgood’s jazz breathes Hiphop, soul and everything that’s come since – a perfect match for Detroit.
The men, the legends, the Wu. The Clan’s full roster graced us with a killer closing set on the main stage, ripping through their classics with vitality and lyricism. There was cause to celebrate: the 25 years marking the release of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), a game-changing product of crate-digging, charismatic verse throwing and a fusion of genres pumped into groundbreaking beatmaking, from gospel to rock to funk to soul. A perfect and rich finish to an effusive ride of a weekend.