Summer is the season of the music festival, the season of big bills, and even bigger crowds. Some festivals choose to pile several popular acts into a lineup and dump them all in a field in the middle of nowhere. Movement, however, hand picks acts that celebrate Detroit as the birthplace of techno. Right in the heart of Detroit (Hart Plaza), Movement unites people through cultural context rather than name recognition.
This year’s Movement Festival included many prolific acts both young and old. Near the end of the first day, DJ and producer Four Tet took to the Red Bull Music Academy stage. He began his set with recording of a hectic, free-form jazz saxophone solo that took the audience by surprise. Once he had captured the attention of the crowd, he then took it back to the true roots of Detroit dance music by throwing down classic Motown tracks. Once he had had his fill of funk, he used one of his own originals, “Love Cry” from the album There is Love in You, to transition seamlessly into a roller-coaster of techno, house, and club music that whipped the audience in and out of a dancing frenzy. His set closer was his moody, ambient remix of Rihanna’s “Kiss it Better,” the only semblance of pop music apparent in his set.
Other notable acts included The Black Madonna, a Chicago-based DJ who played a wide range of house/dance music, techno heavyweight Boys Noize, and Detroit resident Wheez-ie who performed an all-vinyl DJ set early on Monday. At the end of each day, the main stage featured headlining acts such as Kraftwerk, whose set required 3D glasses to appreciate the full extent of the visuals, and Modeselektor, who performed originals from their own table filled with synths and samplers.
Sunday’s lineup included a day-long Owsla showcase on the Underground stage, situated in the sheltered area underneath Hart Plaza. Signees like Whatsonot, Kill the Noise, and Mija performed under the Owsla banner to a sweaty mob of young fans, breaking the monotony of house music heard constantly throughout the festival. Young DJ Mija also stuck around the next day to celebrate her birthday by playing a secret set to the VIP attendees of the festival.
Of course any Movement experience would not be complete without attending one of the numerous after-parties thrown all around the city. The Masonic Temple of Detroit hosted a party celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Dirtybird, an artist collective and label from Los Angeles. Though fans of Dirtybird had been listening to house all day at the festival, the vibe was totally different at the after-party; fans eschewed the survival-of-the-fittest attitude of the festival, and a friendly mood settled over the dance floor. Decked out in their matching Dirtybird merchandise, party-goers danced to Dirtybird artists Ardalan, J. Phlip, Justin Martin, and Claude Vonstroke until 3 am, over 12 hours after the first acts of the day began playing at the festival.
The atmosphere of the festival was unlike any other. Rather than being overpopulated with “festies,” a strong majority of attendees were young adults to middle age people who were there for the movement as well as the music. House music has been an institution in Detroit for decades and many attendees were living in that glorious memory of the first days of house. Footworkers, jackers, and jump-up-and-downers alike showed up to appreciate the movement.