According to production company Paxahuas Chuck Flask (via Detroits Metro Times), David Guetta approached us about it [Movement], but we said no.” My guess is the current king of electronic dance music isnt used to rejection. Following the mayhem of Skrillexs 2011 Movement performance, which happened at the cusp of the producers current momentous rise, the team behind Paxahua have become even more vigilant on how they curate, not just book, the citys celebration of techno.
Now in its thirteenth year, Movement finds the balance between heritage (Jeff Mills, Lil Louis, Public Enemy) and whats next (Dillon Francis, araabMUZIK, The Martinez Brothers). The base is Detroit Techno, polished mixes buried beneath a gritty faÃ§ade that harkens back to the end of the Motor Citys heyday, but for Memorial Day weekend the five stages that line the concrete park of Hart Plaza contain droney minimalism, sparkling Eurohouse, odd analog experimentation, and yes, epic amounts of Jump Up bass drops.
In the spirit of Movement, this excursion was about discovering something new. With ample amounts of water, and a few back up pairs of earplugs, the following is a journey into the top ten acts that I havent seen, but more importantly, would drop plans to witness once again. With nearly 100 artists to explore, a simple numeric matrix helped the tasks — crowd energy, technical ability, and entourage — with ties being alleviated through the number of inflatable toys.
Honorable Mention: Maya Jane Coles
Beatport Stage Sunday – 4:30 p.m.
Sans laptop, Maya Jane Coles commanded the crowd with her CDJ prowess. With ample amounts of vocals, the melodic tech-house set sat at the intersection of sexy, club late night and dance pop. The only reason Coles doesnt make it higher on the list is the sheer amount of high-profile producers that lined the stage. Conversations with Heidi, Claude VonStoke, and dOP were a massive distraction, but a sign this young Brit has the respect of coveted international artists.
Underground Stage Sunday – 7:00 p.m.
Equipped with only a pair of keyboard DAWs, the masked duo behind Dobblereffekt performed a live segment of minimalist musique concrÃ¨te and moody, industrial new wave. Trailing up-and-comers in the bass scene, the set seemed to land on deaf ears, with hordes of fans exiting upon realizing the slow churning deep bass lines would not be ending in a massive drop. A more receptive crowd would have been appreciated, but for those left underground, the sub-bass seeped into the mind space and created narratives of robotic diaries. Is it true that androids dream of electric sheep?
Crowd Energy: 1.5
Technical Ability: 3
09. GRiZ/Two Fresh
Underground Stage Sunday – 3:00 p.m.
Detroit-native GRiZ set was mired in a massive technical difficulty, due to perspiration seeping inside of his Macs trackpad, but fellow new-school bass-maestros Two Fresh stepped up to hype the crowd through a laptop change. The set of all originals and self-made edits resembled Pretty Lights on a speed binge, with hype-bass throbbing beneath organic hip-hop motifs.
Crowd Energy: 3.5
Technical Ability: 1
08. Mark Farina
Main Stage Saturday – 3:00 p.m.
Mark Farina looks like your middle schools quirky band professor, but instead of bad jokes and ugly ties, Farina comes equipped with a unique blend of jazz, classic soul, hip-hop, and classic rock that he dubs Mushroom Jazz. The mid-tempo set was sparsely attended, but for those energetic enough to dance in the remnants of an early afternoon rainstorm, seamless edits of Grandmaster Flashs The Message and Im on Fire by Bruce Springsteen served as a just opener for the festival.
Crowd Energy: 2.5
Technical Ability: 3.5
07. Gold Panda
Red Bull Stage Sunday – 10:00 p.m.
Gold Pandas set transplanted the audience into a dark cloud. Shrouded in an oversized hoodie, the UK producer used his MPC to construct a deviant atmospheric set. It may not have been easy to dance to, but the underlying glitch provided enough energy for a continued series of crowd surfing attempts from the packed audience.
Crowd Energy: 3.5
Technical Ability: 2.5
Beatport Stage Saturday – 5:30 p.m.
Prior to Saturday afternoon I was oblivious to the French trio of dOP, but as their name so closely suggests (dope), just one hit and you may be hooked. Already, less than two days after the performance, and I am already suffering some symptoms of withdrawal. Comprised of Damian Van de Sande, Clement Zemstov, Jonathan Illel, dOP fuse an analog synthesizer, keyboard, and live MC for a sleek, sexy, and more than a slightly raunchy, emotive dance party. To keep spirits high, the threepiece were more than happy to share multiple bottles of Finlandia with the audience. Like the most euphoric of human encounters, dOP keep the tempo to a seductive drone leading to mutual gratification.
Crowd Energy: 3
Technical Ability: 3