Live Review | Movement Detroit

Movement 2011

Hart Plaza | Detroit 

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Photos by Matt Reeves of Darkroom Demons

Attending Movement last year was an eye opener. Detroit's annual outdoor bacchanalia dedicated to machine music and worshippers of 4/4 beats can seem like rave's last stand. Furry boots, animal backpacks and pacifiers accompany an army of candy kids each year. And as someone who never really did the rave thing during its '90s heyday, the scene can seem like some surreal, drug-addled blast from the past. Revisiting the melee this year, I was no less surprised at the color and creativity of the diverse crowd or the number of young faces losing their minds to this music.

If you think this is some niche event where a few hundred kids dance under a tent to a DJ shoved in the corner, you're wrong. According to Paxahau, the event's organizers, this year's attendance swelled to a new record on its first day: 34,820 eager dancers flooded Hart Plaza, and they did it despite the rain that steadily soaked us for the last six hours of the event. No matter, the talent on hand did more than enough to take our minds off the weather. A God in these parts, Richie Hawtin took over the Beatport DJ stage with a two-hour set of bouncing, emotive techno. Berlin talent Monolake shattered eardrums in the underground cement bunker that is the Movement Torino stage. And, as always, the Red Bull stage flipped the techno script entirely with sets from drum 'n' bass king pin Goldie and blistering dubstep phenom Skrillex (Chicagoans can look forward to Skrillex at Lollapalooza this summer as well).

This pace kept steady over the next two days with the top slots going to Fatboy Slim, who was way more entertaining than expected; Carl Craig, who smashed it under his 69 guise; and Flying Lotus, who had too much fun swilling Red Bull and Vodkas earlier in the day and was actually a pretty big disappointment compared to past performances. (See our review from his April 2010 chicago show).

But it wasn't all about the headliners. Movement, though sizable, is still a compact festival and surfing from one dance party to the next is a large part of its charm. New York disco revivalists Metro Area were a great way to warm up for the first day. Broadcasting from the main stage, it was all uplifting house and the odd mirror-ball classic—sunshine music to its core. Later, at the Made in Detroit stage, a brilliantly high impact live PA from Iranian producer Aril Brikha  was followed up by fast-rising Detroit foursome Visionquest, who are ushering in a new phase of dance music from Detroit.

The highlights continued over the next two days with an onslaught of beats that ranged from the slo-mo house stylings of Boston's Soul Clap to the beautifully melancholy turn from Toronto's Art Department. Underground, things remained an intense affair with Berghain big wigs Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann. Red Bull kept the tempo varied with sets from Ramadanman, Scuba and Little Dragon (which was one of the only live bands all weekend). 

The highlights can go on ad nauseum—this is a festival that truly brings to mind the adage no rest for the wicked. At Movement, the last thing you should expect to be doing on Memorial Day weekend is catch up on your beauty sleep.



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