And on the third day of Movement 2013, it rained. The trickle started early in the day and gained momentum as the hours wore on, which drove a significant portion of the audience away from the festival grounds at Detroit’s Hart Plaza. The Marriott Hotel nearest to the event grounds seemed to empty out overnight: No more waiting for elevators or crowding the lobby to squeeze into one with packs of amped-up ravers. No more beer cans in the hallways. But the hardcore contingent that stuck around or lived in the city trudged out in the increasingly foul weather to soak up one last day of dance music.
Brainfeeder alumni and new Ultra Music signee Tokimonsta warmed up the drizzly afternoon at the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) stage with a mixture of wonky West Coast beats and hip-hop hits from artists like L.A.-based rapper Kendrick Lamar. Onlookers swaggered gamely in ponchos and under umbrellas to her trip-hop stylings, which have developed a harder and snappier edge since the release of her 2010 album “Midnight Menu.”
Meanwhile, at the Beatport stage, U.K. house darling George Fitzgerald cranked out a stream of bouncing basslines and sparkling melodies. The decks were covered by tarps to protect them from getting wet, so for most of the set, it was impossible to see anything but the ManMakeMusic label boss’ head bobbing up and down to the beat of the drums. He mostly stuck to engaging grooves and pop vocals to keep the diehards dancing, which they did. A woman in a fuzzy tiger costume stomped around in the puddles with a skinny guy in fat pants to Fitzgerald’s remix of “Beam Me Up,” a track from Will Saul’s upcoming “Closer” LP. Occasionally, he dipped into more brooding sounds, like the grumbling B-side of his latest record for Scuba’s Hotflush label, “Nighttide Lover.”
Throughout the day, the attendance remained stable instead of increasing steadily as it had during the past two days. Perhaps in other cities, a 50-degree rainy day would encourage festival goers to head home early, but Detroit turned up and stayed up. The artists at the Made In Detroit stage kept a pounding four-on-the-floor for most of the day, and the crowd stayed huddled close, twirling in circles and splashing in puddles to crunchy minimal analogue techno engineered by hometown stalwart Erika. Detroit natives are tough and a little rain apparently won’t stop them from dancing all day and into the night.
So, into the frigid night they danced. By the time 10:30 rolled around, the concrete overhang between the RBMA and Underground stages was packed with bodies determined to see the closing set from Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson and eager to find some respite from the rain. They were late—15 long, cold minutes late—but the crowd remained. Around 10:45, May queued up the first track, all dramatic strings and no kick drum. And then Kevin dropped the beat from Inner City’s “Good Life,” and the amphitheater exploded.
Those squished under the awning to avoid the rain didn’t seem to be having nearly as much fun as those who embraced the challenging climate. The rain intensified the experience for the audience in front of the stage and in the rain; they danced harder than anyone had all weekend. They moshed and waggled their arms in the air, shook their soaked hair, crashed into each other. There was a certain magic at work there that didn’t materialize during any other set that weekend, a sense of relief and triumph that was mirrored and amplified by the song’s lyrics—particularly the line, “No more rainy days.” These were the most down people at Movement: ones that soldiered through and who were going to bear whatever Detroit threw at them. Before long, it didn’t feel cold anymore, because we were dancing, too.