Events, Movement Festival

Memorial Day Weekend in Detroit

06.02.11 | 3 Comments

The Movement festival occurred this past weekend in Detroit and I had a fantastic weekend, not just at Hart Plaza, but all over Detroit. I love this city. My favorite part of the whole weekend, are you ready, … was riding my bike around town. I strapped that turquoise girl onto my car and headed down to Detroit Saturday afternoon. I stayed in the city all weekend and adored riding in Detroit. I’ll tell you more about that as we move through the details of my weekend. On my way to Detroit, I got a text from Frank Glazer letting me know that DJ Harvey was not in town and would not be playing the festival. Thanks Frank! Frank and Tom Cox of Infinite State Machine came to Detroit this weekend with every intention of enjoying Detroit, and with no intention of going to the festival at all. It’s a politically motivated choice for them, and I totally respect it. Something that I really like about Tom and Frank, in addition to their extensive knowledge of music, willingness to share that knowledge, and their strong support of Detroit and other local music scenes, is that I have never felt judgement from them over my slightly less politically motivated stance toward Paxahau and the Movement Festival. They may be pointing and laughing behind my back! Ha! But then, that’s none of my business or concern. They’re great guys. Buy records from Tom whenever you can:

Love What You Feel

Pittsburgh Track Authority

Anyway, Harvey was the part of the actual festival that I was most excited about, so I was sad to hear that he would not be in town. Hope he’s doing alright. After recovering from that shocker (I said “fuck” a few times), I made it to Detroit and got excited driving down Jefferson past Hart Plaza hearing Michael Geiger play this by Romanthony:

Michael Geiger was someone who I thought I would check out, maybe, but figured since I had seen him play before, I would spend more time at the pyramid (Red Bull) stage checking out Hudson Mohawke and at the main (Vitamin) stage with Metro Area. I did those things, both were fun. I hadn’t planned on going to see Michael Geiger play because I’ve seen him play before in Detroit a few times, and figured I would check out people I can’t see play as frequently. I’d never seen Hudson Mohawke before, and I really like his productions and DJ sets that I’ve heard before. Hudson Mohawke has an interesting head bob that involves a rhythmic slump just slightly behind the beat. He was extremely focused on what he was playing, very serious. I like observing how people move when they play music, instruments, records, audio files, whatever. Just so you know, I’m not poking fun at all, just sharing what I saw. I met up with ethnomusicologist, Luis-Manuel Garcia, who I totally adore, then met up with Carleton Gholz, who just happened to be at the Detroit stage where Michael Geiger was playing records. And thank goodness, because that dude named Geiger was one highlight of my weekend. Seriously, one of my favorites.

Geiger at that stage with that sound system was really excellent. His track selection was fun to dance to. He plays all vinyl and plays lots of great house music. And he is known in Detroit for excellence. There were plenty of local house heads and Detroit DJs down there checking him out. All weekend, I kept saying to folks who didn’t know of him – “Michael Geiger, great Detroit DJ, plays with Mike Huckaby alot. One of my favorite things all weekend.”

The Detroit stage was pretty great this year. It was outside in the spot along Jefferson behind the main stage, not in the underground concrete box as in previous years. In addition to that happy fact, it was not stuck inside a tent (smelly armpit smell?). The stage was set up like the pyramid stage and the river (Beatport) stage with an enormous structure covering almost the entire dance area with lights and sound equipment mounted overhead on the rafters. The production elements of the festival continue to improve every year. For various reasons, my time down at Hart Plaza was limited this year, so I can’t adequately evaluate the sound at the main stage, underground stage, or river stage. I was not over at the Beatport stage at all, and I was only at the underground stage for nospectacle on Sunday afternoon. They sounded good, but maybe not quite loud enough. My skin was not vibrating. Typically, when I hear nospectacle, my skin and other body parts vibrate; my eardrums almost hurt. That was not the case this weekend. However, the sound at the Detroit stage and pyramid stage was pretty great every time I was there.

Michael Geiger. Photo by Carleton S. Gholz.

After Gieger, I caught WAY too little of Daedelous. It was super fun and goofy, as expected! Then I enjoyed the first half of Dam Funk, and moved on to Tortured Soul, then Aril Brikha. I caught the beginning of Aril Brikha’s set. It sounded great. Lot’s of interesting, intellectually stimulating, make you wiggle and flow, techno. It had been raining lightly for a little while by this point. When it actually started to really pour, I decided to head over to Forans. They had AXL pale ale on tap – local and micro is what I like, as long as it’s good. Foran’s is a great place to get in out of the rain, or sun, or just get a festival break. Always see lots of Detroit music folks in there. That’s something that I really love about this weekend, seeing Detroit friends all in a few days that I only see sporadically throughout the rest of the year; meeting more Detroit music people that I don’t know; hanging out with friends who come in from out of town that I typically only see on this weekend; and meeting folks from out of town that I know of or have only interacted with online, but never met in person. LOVE ALL THAT. I met up with Fred Heutte at Foran’s. Fred is a long time 313 list contributor and long time serious Detroit techno fan. Seems like he knows most everybody and most everything. We had met once before briefly two years ago at the 2009 festival. Carlos Souffront introduced us, I think it was during the Starski & Clutch madness. We talked just briefly that year. It was great to actually hang out and chat this year. After Foran’s, then Lafayette Coney Island for coneys and chili cheese fries. Oh my god, I want to have that right now! Fred has tons of great stories about Detroit music, he’s been coming here for years. He’s been to Heaven, saw Ken Collier play. And probably every other important spot (club, record label office, other stuff) in the legacy of Detroit techno.

Omar S. Photo by James M. Rotz.

After a brief nap, I headed down to the Deep Detroit party hosted by Kai Alce featuring Brett Dancer, Omar S, and Kai at 1515 Broadway, the second location of the Music Institute. This party was excellent, as expected. Omar S’s set was another highlight of my weekend. Michael Geiger and Omar S were definitely my favorite things on Saturday. I could not identify anything that Omar S played that night. Tons of 90s house and acid records. Lots of dancing for me. Apparently, lots of other skilled selectors and track identifiers couldn’t I.D. much either, so I felt a bit better about it. During a break outside, I met Shawn Kralism of Night Gallery Records. His Night Gallery partner, Kuri Kondrak, who also writes for Little White Earbuds, was too busy dancing inside to come out and meet me that night. Jerk. Ha. Ha! It’s a joke. I joke. Necessary move. The music WAS that good. I also got to catch up with Tom Cox and Frank Glazer.

My tiredness and crowded-out-ness got the best of me and I left the party around 3, right when Omar S started to get a little space disco on us all, just a little bit. I’m sure it continued to be amazing. There, Day One, Done.


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