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How to Really Enjoy Movement Festival & The City of Detroit

movement (photo by Stephen Bondio)

Movement celebrates 10 years (photo by Stephen Bondio)

Returning to Detroit for the 2nd year in a row, I would have to say this year was something far from what i had already experienced. Adding a sixth stage was a big move, and Movement promised a talent-packed line-up, that in my opinion should have sold out and packed Hart Plaza over the course of Memorial Day weekend. However, much to my surprise, this year was very light in crowds, but nevertheless filled with amazing energy and good vibes all around. 

There was plenty of quality music to sink into with the likes of Seth Troxler, Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald Present: Borderland, Kraftwerk 3D, Adam Beyer, Loco Dice, Dubfire:Live Hybrid, John Digweed, Chris Liebing & Modeselektor-live all on the main stage. But everywhere else you looked there was incredible talent. Heidi, DJ Tennis, tINI, Danny Tenaglia all linked up on the Beatport stage, while Kenny Dope, Four Tet, Caribou, Tiga, The Black Madonna, Honey Soundsystem, J.Phlip, Justin Martin & GET REAL: Green Velvet & Claude Vonstroke all set the tone on the Redbull Stage. Staying in one place was not going to be easy, there were still three other stages hosting top notch talent like Kevin Saunderson, Matthew Dear, Ellen Allien, Nina Kraviz, Scuba, Len Faki, and the list goes on.

The beauty of this year aside from the lack of packed crowds compared to last year, was the desire to explore. Straying away from only making it to one stage, this year I billowed with the winds and floated around and caught some seriously unexpected sets.

Check out the tips at the bottom.

Saturday, May 28th

Saturday was made memorable by the combination of acts that took my sense away to another world. Somehow I ended up at the festival as early as 3PM and with the hot sun warming up the asphalt, I walked around and trusted my ears to lead me to the good music. I was led to the lovely La Fleur whose eloquent melodic techno started my day off and led into an amazing set by Paul Woolford. 

Stepping away so as to not be tied down to one stage, I was encouraged to go see Zip, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Simply put, Zip was phenomenal. Such quirky and unpredictable techno all done on vinyl and I just lost myself. Following his epic performance was a memorable set by Davide Squillace. I have only heard of him this year and I was incredibly taken aback at how beautiful and intense his set was. The human body's ability to movement so fluently with his tracks was almost like being entranced. 

Movement (photo by Brandon Rabotnick)

Continuing on my journey of sound, I swapped Marc Houle for the ending portion of Borderland, presented by Detroit's Juan Atkins with Moritz von Oswald. They played right before Maceo Plex, when all of sudden the main stage got scary packed. Uninterested in being a part of the sardine party, I closed my night with a remarkable, however totally unexpected set by Nic Fanciulli. The highlight of his set was when he dropped, 'Come As You Are' by Emanuel Satie which practically brought the crowd to a frenzy. 

The Saturday night after-party of choice was the Paradigm Presents: Flying Circus at City Club. There is something about coming to Detroit and making it to City Club at least once during the weekend. The venue is sick in the sense that ist' an old theatre turned into underground rave centre. If a warehouse was to screw a proscenium theatre, you'd get City Club. This year Paradigm brought us, Nick Bassett, D'Julz, Mike Shannon, Dewalta, Audiofly Vs. Davide Squillace upstairs and then techno line up of doom by Jason Patrick, Tiefschwartz and Len Faki! 

Sunday, May 29th

Onwards and upwards, I rejoined the cavalry and made my way to the holy land of Hart Plaza. Upon arrival I immediately made my way to Beatport stage and caught the last half hour of DJ Tennis, but the true spotlight of that stage belongs to the vivacious, Heidi. It was pouring rain not more than 1 hour ago and the minute that woman got to the decks, the sun shined down on her like a gift from the heavens and then she blew the stage out of the water. For the next hour and a half, I was moving non-stop to what was the best combination of funky, upbeat and techno-tastic sounds I have heard thus far. Not to mention her dropping Felix Da Housecat's 'Silver Screen' forced me to bust a move so hard, I think I pulled a muscle.

After Heidi's amazing performance, I was brought to a lesson in tunes by Tiga. I normally was never a big listener of his music, but his set was a shock to me and my butt, which was shaking something fierce of a groove. After some Tiga loving, I migrated over to catch some of Shaun Reeves before Art Department.

I moved on to the after hours and my mood was instantly invigorated as I entered, Bert's Warehouse Theatre for the No Party, Like a Detroit Party thrown by Underground Mafia and Army of Techno. It was an 8,000 capacity warehouse venue with the main room and side room inside and another stage outside. With a portion of ticket sale proceeds being donated to Detroit charities, the promoters also included free ear plugs and free water stations for the patrons...Um.. hell yea! 

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Did I also mention that upon entering the party, it was definitely on the empty side, but that was completely ignored once I saw K-Hand spinning vinyl outside. Brain... BLOWN! Legends of legends, this woman's skill and knowledge of Detroit techno allowed her to completely tear up the floor, I wasn't sure if John Acquaviva could handle that kind of predecessor. Of course, though, John, held his own! Inside, Octave One was going insane with a live performance. Such energy as the two of them were moving just as aggressively as we were behind those decks. Following him was the great, Speedy J! Incredible. Nothing, but incredible, especially when I got see the sky lighten up as Doc Martin played live with his wife singing. Such a beautiful end to the night and start to a new day. 


Monday, May 30th 

After getting in some "ZzZ"s because I god damn needed some, I attempted to go to Old Miami. Getting there last year around 2PM, there was practically no line, so following same logic I was rewarded with a line around the bend in some intense heat...No Bueno (this year it was 12PM no line). However, my Old Miami plans were foiled as my group of friends who got in at 7AM, got kicked out! I wasn't discouraged by this because we then continued on to Hart Plaza, still fairly early. Monday's heat was intense, and it was tough without any headgear so I got myself a little white burner hood to dance around in. 

Nice, cold smoothies in hand, I finally made my way to the mystical Opportunity Stage. On deck was what I would describe as the freshest Detroit set ever by DJ Holographic (I am still trying to track her down). My friends and I ended up staying for her entire set, thankfully under the large shade of a friendly tree. After moving and grooving there, I pilgrimaged to catch the Saunderson Brother's for some ill hip hop infused techno. There may have been a slight nap involved in grass by lockers, sue me! After, I went on to see some Anja Schnieder and John Digweed at Movement main stage. New to Anja's sound, I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but I enjoyed the minimal techno style a bit, but was relieved when Digweed got on and brought back the love I was looking for. 

I stayed until Chris Liebing's set, but I had to go because Guy Gerber was beckoning me. Guy Gerber, was probably #2 or #3 of the top sets to be heard that weekend. I could not even begin to describe what kind of experience his music brought us combined with the immaculate visual production at that stage as the sunset crept in. The GM building behind us towered with glowing orange LEDS, the dusk skylight for a background. I swear I thought we were going to be taken away by a mother ship at any moment. The energy flowed through the crowd and his music fucked us up pretty hard. Everything that happened after that set was moot and couldn't hold a tune. 

My mind, my ears, pretty sure my soul too, were stolen by Guy Gerber and in my dizzy state of mind, I somehow managed to make my way to hear GET REAL with Green Velvet and Claude VonStroke. It wasn't bad. Fun and bouncy mixed in with Green Velvet's techno-drone vocals definitely made it memorable. Especially since GV and Claude know how to have fun on stage and bellow that energy through their g-housey bounce beats. 

The night is never over in Detroit because the Last Man Standing party at MIX Bricktown just started and we were gonna bring it home EAST COAST STYLE! I attended the party with no knowledge of who was playing, where it was or what to expect. I was rewarded with a shabby looking bar-like venue with exposed brick, insane sound and a happy crowd. If I were to imagine what an old school house party was like, this was it. And Kyle Hall nailed my coffin shut with his vinyl, Detroit house set that had my calves burning. At about 6:30AM, I was finally collected off the column that was hoisting me up and taken back to the hotel, like a warrior at his final triumph. 

Detroit his year was beyond incredible and the city, even though it lacks population, holds a spirit of hope and potential that cannot be found anywhere else. The best way to experience such a city with such a rich history of music is with an open mind and an open spirit. If you plan on attending Movement next year, here are my tips on how to make it memorable: 

1. Dish out the extra cash and go VIP. It is worth it, less security, more open space, shorter lines and the bathrooms are a godsend when you're sweating on whatever you are on and you just want to pee in a clean space that doesn't smell like vomit and feces. It's also fun running into Seth Troxler or Danny Tenaglia on your pilgrimage :P

2. Don't see the headliners. You are in the mecca of original music and Movement does an excellent job of not only choosing headliners but packing out the place with amazing music alternatives. Listen to your ears and follow them, it will lead you to the perfect stage, with the right sound and the right amount of space. 

3. Check out the venues. After party line-ups are important, but using the same logic as don't see the headliners, don't just go for the line-up. Detroit has some seriously cool venues of various types. See what you discover by just going by venues versus line-up. 

4. Lockers & Fanny packs FTW! Fuck aesthetics and being sexy, which BTW is NOT what Detroit attendees are about! 

5. I know avoiding sweet stuff and food seems like the Go-To for festivals, but I promise you go grab that strawberry banana smoothie. You will experience a foodgasm that may make you pass out. 

6. Lastly, play the, "Which Track Will I Hear 100x Game?" The winner this year goes to Claude Von Stroke's "Who's Afraid of Detroit" mainly due to the fact that this was its 10 year anniversary since its 2006 release! 


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