Christianity has Jerusalem, Islam has Mecca, and Techno has Detroit.
The ultimate annual celebration of Techno takes place at Movement during Memorial Day Weekend. The festival is held in the heart of Downtown Detroit at the riverside venue, Hart Plaza. Over the years, Paxahau, the company that produces the festival, has maintained a level of consistency and talent acquisition that is unparalleled. 2016 marked the tenth anniversary of the festival under Paxahau’s watch. With each passing year, the festival only seems to get better.
One of the reasons that Movement continues to shine, is its emphasis on recognizing and nurturing local Detroit talent. Detroit has always been a fertile ground for musical innovation for a number of different genres including Hip Hop, Soul, R&B, and Funk; Electronic music is no exception to this trend. The festival genuinely embraces the undying spirit of Detroit. This year The Made in Detroit Stage a.k.a. The Thump Stage, served as a platform for Detroit’s top exports. Kevin Saunderson curated his Origins experiences at this stage on the final day of the festival. Detroit legends including Carl Craig Eddie Fowlkes, Delano Smith, Stacey Pullen, and Al Ester also performed at the Thump stage over the weekend. Another stage, “Opportunity Detroit” stage had some of Detroit’s premiere up-and coming artists play the stage. Both stages were parallel to Detroit’s towering skyline so folks at these stages could soak in more of Detroit while they dance to its native electronic music.
(Courtesy: Steve Bondio)
The Beatport Stage hosted some of the hottest House and Techno acts including Guti, Joesph Capriati, Davide Squillace, Ame, and Tale of Us. The Beatport stage was the most picturesque with the Detroit river on one side and the 80 floor multiple tower system, Renaissance Center behind the stage. The Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) Stage had more musical diversity than the other stages. From live electronic acts like Caribou and Four Tet, to Tech-House DJs like Get Real and Justin Martin, to Wu-Tang clan’s RZA, the RBMA stage was the place to experience a number of different genres. The Underground Stage housed hard-hitting acts like Len Faki and Scuba on the first day. Day 2 was a takeover by record label OWSLA. On Day 3 the pH at the stage dropped significantly as Acid acts invited by Nina Kraviz rocked the stage. DJ Pierre, Tin Man, and Boys Noize were some of the acts that played the stage on the final day of the event. This sweaty, grimy stage was literally under the ground and it was a lot of fun, the only thing that dampened the experience at this stage was the muddy sound.
The phenomenal talent on the Mainstage included Kraftwerk, Dubfire, Chris Liebing, John Digweed, Borderlands amongst other great performers. The Mainstage was Hart Plaza’s amphitheater, which offered clear views of the stage to everybody. The sound at the mainstage was visceral and was perfect to experience thumping kick drums and earth-shaking basslines. The most anticipated performance of the weekend was that of Kraftwerk. They headlined the festival on the first day. The audience were provided with 3-D glasses for a fantastic audio-visual extravaganza from the seminal electronic music quartet. Stereoscopic imagery of Detroit along with clips of machines, robots, and computers went perfectly with Kraftwerk’s iconic sound. Dubfire’s shadowy “Live-Hybrid” concept was one of the top acts of the weekend. Dubfire spawned sonic mayhem while his magnified silhouette was projected upon multilayered translucent meshes.
(Courtesy: Brandon Rabotnick)
Another cool thing about the festival is that it is all ages. A lot of the acts booked at Movement usually only play at clubs and warehouses that allow entry to patrons over the age of 21. So, Movement gives younger people a much needed experience in pure, unadulterated, awesome electronic music. Infact, there were even a decent number of babies with their parents at the festival. On the other end of the spectrum one could find someone like seventy-four-year-old “Grandma Techno”. The festival has a level of maturity that has yet to been found in another electronic music festival in North America. The acts booked certainly appeal to electronic music aficionados with a more refined palate. That’s not to say that the festival is unwelcoming to newer listeners.
Many music festivals face severe threats of banishment because of the fiery opposition of local authorities and residents, but Movement on the other hand has been lovingly embraced by all of Detroit. The festival is a blessing for Detroit. Every year, for three days the spotlight is on Detroit, while the world watches electronic music flourish in one of the places that has changed the course of its history. Hotels are sold out, bars, clubs and restaurants are also packed. Very few other events breathe life into Detroit like Movement does. Rightfully, Detroit’s city officials have acknowledged the festival’s contribution and significance. This year the mayor officially declared the week of Movement as “Techno Week”. The festival has firmly cemented its status as one of North America’s top niche electronic music festivals. The wait for Movement 2017 has already begun.