Samo Sound Boy, Mala, Berghain residents also highlight the day
Movement has been raging in downtown Detroit for over two days, and by now it's clear that the EDM boom has transformed the four-day event.
When it debuted in 2000, the fest -- then called the Detroit Electronic Music Festival -- was free and under the direction of techno legend Carl Craig. In the subsequent years it would change hands several times, with Craig and then fellow techno founding father Derrick May splitting unceremoniously from the city team funding it because of issues over things like money and creative control. In 2006, current promoter/producer Paxahau was given the reins, and the festival began to grow, not only from ticket sales (2004 was its last free year), but from corporate sponsors, like Red Bull.
Going from a moment of civic pride to one of the cornerstones of the electronic music festival calendar has changed the audience as well, and while the average Movement attendee still appears to be older than that of other American EDM massives, Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson told Billboard that this year, he noticed some younger faces than in those past.
"When the festival started, it was an older crowd," Saunderson said. "Now it's spread to younger people, throughout the high schools. The production has changed; it's gotten better. It used to be a free festival, but obviously it went through different hands. It's finally stabilized, and at the same time was able to grab a new, young audience, as well as people who love the experience no matter what."
Movement now boasts five stages, four of them named for sponsors and partners: Red Bull Music Academy owns the main, and Beatport, Electric Forest and Made In Detroit (Kid Rock’s clothing line) each has its own. Merchandise and food tents line the walkways, plus another tent in the VIP section occupied by live-streamed secret party promoter Boiler Room. All the artists slotted to play a Boiler set were working double time, which meant that Stacey Pullen, Magda, Daniel Bell, and Ben Sims cranked out two sets at the festival—not to mention the after parties. Richie Hawtin didn't show up for his headlining Boiler set.
On day two at the RBMA stage, Croydon dubstep heavyweight Hatcha signed off with an old ragga jungle tune and handed the controls to fellow UK bass music don Mala. During the hottest hours of the afternoon, the Deep Medi label boss methodically laid down subby 12-inches and bounced on the balls of his feet.
The RBMA and Electric Forest stages displayed a broader range of musical styles than the others. As the temperature steadily declined, artists like Dirtybird's J.Phlip and Body High label boss Samo Sound Boy chopped up house-y tracks at the Electric Forest stage, which also hosted most of trap acts on the lineup. Compared to the people dancing at Boiler Room, where mothers toted headphone-wearing babies, the ravers at Electric Forest were younger, more energetic, and more likely to be wearing outfits made of neon fur. Samo's hour-long set alone had more dynamics than the entire day at the Underground stage; he traveled through classic techno cuts from Plastikman (Hawtin’s original moniker), old school 2-step tunes by Nu-Birth, upcoming releases from his label, and a remix of Rihanna.
The Underground stage boasted a fierce lineup of German techno powerhouses like Berlin-via-London transplant Tommy Four Seven, and Ben Klock and Luke Slater, residents at legendary Berlin club Berghain. The enclosed dark concrete dance floor added to the austere Berghain-esque vibe, and it provided the warmest shelter when chilly night set in. Around the time that Klock took over for Tommy, the security guards that had been blocking the descending walkway down to the underground dance floor since yesterday dispersed, which allowed partygoers to come and go from the crowded club environment as they pleased.
Beatport snagged the largest and most scenic piece of real estate in Hart Plaza, right on the Detroit River. By the time the legendary house duo Masters at Work kicked off their headlining set around 10:30, night had fallen and the whole Beatport stage area was covered in thousands of pulsing bodies. After hours of pummeling techno in the Underground stage or driving Detroit beats at the Made in Detroit or Boiler Room areas, the pair's selection of 1990s house hits made for a soothing and easy-going close to the second day of festivities at Movement.