Movement is in a league of its own when it comes to music festivals in North America.
Held in Detroit, the city that birthed techno, the festival has an immense amount of heritage and history associated with it. On the line-up this year were iconic, genre pioneering artists like Carl Craig and The Belleville Three, along with musicians they passed the torch to. Movement’s unflinching dedication to curating the finest techno and house acts while not overlooking local talent is one of the prime reasons the festival is as loved and respected as it is today.
One of the great things about Movement, is that it provides artists the opportunity to show different sides of themselves or present new concepts to their fans. This year we saw the legendary Kevin Saunderson as E-Dancer, deadmau5 dropped his helmet and performed as his rare techno alias, Testpilot, Carl Craig presented his Versus Synthesizer Ensemble. Richie Hawtin’s audio-visual live project, Close wowed everyone at the Mainstage. It’s a memorable treat for fans to experience an alternate or evolved performance by their beloved musicians. There was an abundance of phenomenal live performances at the festival too. Rodriguez Jr.’s blissful live set entranced his audience and Octave One’s masterful performance that melted minds.
The Stargate Stage held a different label showcase each day of the festival. Carl Craig brought the Detroit Love showcase back to Movement this year on day one. Jamie Jones brought the Paradise experience to Detroit this year on the last day of the festival. Kevin Saunderson presented his Origins concept on the second day. The Underground Stage was taken over and excellently curated by Resident Advisor this year. Concerns that people had voiced about the stage’s poor acoustics in the past were addressed and the sound this year was noticeably better. The underground stage’s cavernous atmosphere and rapidly flashing lights create the optimal atmosphere for someone to lose themselves to the harder, heavier realms of techno with acts like Matrixxman, AX&P, and Function who played incredible sets at RA’s stage this year. The pyramid stage, which is a crowd favorite, provided stunning views of the Detroit River and Windsor skyline while hosting some of today’s finest. Chris Liebing’s explosive closing set on the final day along with Mind Against and Recondite’s ethereal sunset sets.
It’s true that some people feel that the festival hasn’t changed very much over the past few years. It’s the same venue, nearly the same layout, the food and marketplace have minor variations each year. For someone returning to the festival it’s usually the same wonderful, familiar experience but there’s a possibility that the people who find it repetitive may choose to attend other festivals over Movement. There are some changes that seem necessary such as a revamped Made In Detroit Stage. While the Made in Detroit stage hosted great local musicians like Terrence Dixon, the production at that particular stage was underwhelming this year again. Also, this year the rain led to some wonderful moments like a rainbow over the river during Recondite’s stellar set but also some unfortunate situations such as numerous technical glitches during Testpilot’s set even after being delayed by 30 minutes. Kevin Saundersons set as E-Dancer was cut short.
Movement is a shining example of the prosperity, pride, and happiness that can stem from a symbiotic relationship between a niche festival and the city it is held in. The support from local authorities and residents allows the festival to thrive which in turn boosts the economy and tourism of the city. Newcomers attending the festival will find themselves digging deeper into Detroit’s rich and eclectic musical history and will earn a sense of respect and admiration for the city and its friendly and hard-working residents. People who have attended the festival regularly treat their return to Hart Plaza as a pilgrimage. It’s a festival that is truly unique and one that must be experienced by anyone who embraces unadulterated underground music.