Movement Festival in Detroit is back again and WIUX will be there covering all the action. The festival is important for many reasons, but most significant is its location. Detroit is a city uniquely important to music. Jazz, Blues, Pop and more have all been shaped by artists from the motor city. However, when auto plant worker Berry Gordy founded Motown Records in 1959, Detroit became a musical powerhouse. Motown made Detroit artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and of course Marvin Gaye into superstars. After Motown’s heyday and as the auto industry began to collapse and the city spiraled into decline, Detroit continued to produce some of America’s most interesting music. Eminem and Jack White are both Detroiters. However, it wasn’t until three high school friends began to reinterpret Chicago House, that Detroit Techno was born.
Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May, or the Belleville Three as they are colloquially known are the founders of Techno. The music they made was uniquely rooted in a philosophy of Afrofuturism that came from their experiences growing up in an industrial city that had suffered an economic downturn, and which was heavily influenced by Afrika Bambaataa and Kraftwerk. These three, along with a few other innovators created a sound now known as the first wave of Detroit Techno. The sound took hold in places as far as Berlin and London.
A few years later came a second wave. Jeff Mills, otherwise known as The Wizard, took over Detroit’s airwaves with his radio show. His talent for incredibly quick cutting and scratching on the decks earned him a large local following. Together with Robert Hood and former Parliament bassist Mad Mike Banks, Mills formed Underground Resistance, a group that was to Techno what NWA was to Rap. This second wave of Techno came about just as the genre became popular in Europe. The sound became faster, harder, and began to take hold abroad. Underground Resistance, Stacey Pullen, Octave One, Anthony Shakir, Claude Young, Carl Craig, and many more formed a diverse set of artists that innovated and reshaped Detroit Techno.
In 2000 a yearly festival celebrating Detroit’s past, present, and future in Techno and electronic music was born. This festival is today known as Movement Detroit. The festival is a testament to the city’s importance to electronic music
This year WIUX will be back in Detroit once again, covering the city that hustles harder on its biggest weekend. If you will be there as well, we put together a list of our must-see acts for each day of the festival.
Day one of Movement is one of the best for a taste of classic Detroit Techno. Octave One, Stacey Pullen, Carl Craig, Robert Hood, Larry Heard (AKA Mr. Fingers), and The Belleville Three are all not-to-be-missed Detroit classics. Also of note is DJ Minx, a local spinner with some serious chops, Panorama Bar resident Cassy, an internationally touring DJ whose sets are imbibed with intelligence and a flair for track selection, and Rrose, and experimental techno artist whose live sets approach chilling ambiance.
After a Saturday full of Techno classics, Sunday is a great day to check out some of the world’s best House DJ’s. Honey Dijon promises jacking Chicago and New York style House that is sure to keep people dancing. Heidi’s sets deliver bass heavy house with fun party-ready vibes and and a charismatic stage presence. DVS1, Cajmere, Shiba San, and Audion are all incredible acts with varied styles. Of course, Sunday’s premiere event will be Deadmau5, as he assumes his Techno alter ego: Testpilot.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably already exhausted. It’s been said a million times before, but DEMF is a marathon not a sprint, so pace yourself because the final day is a good one. DJ Harvey is opening the fest with a 3-hour set that shouldn’t be missed. Harvey is a DJ legend who once famously said: “you can’t understand the blues until you’ve had your heart broken, and you can’t understand my music until you’ve had group sex on ecstasy.” I’m not quite sure what to make of that, but I recommend coming early to hear a great set from a true original. The Teklife showcase with DJ Spinn and DJ Taye also comes highly recommended, especially if you’re looking for a break from house and techno. Prepare to be rocked by footwork and juke by this Chicago crew. Closing out the night will be an unmissable set by the one and only Carl Cox. This is a must see, as Cox doesn’t usually spend much time in the U.S. Barclay Crenshaw, the real name and side project of Dirty bird mogul Claude VonStroke will be debuting on the Movement main stage. Deep House godfather Kerri Chandler and Hot Creations honcho Jamie Jones will also be playing can’t miss sets on the Paradise stage.
Whew that was a lot. You won’t be able to see everyone you want, so don’t even try. Instead, check out the acts that excite you, and if you find your groove stick with it!
I know, after parties, really?! After three days of nonstop dancing do you really want to venture out to one of Detroit’s venues to see even more acts and miss out on much-needed sleep? The answer is most definitely. After parties are part of Movement tradition. Don’t question it, just go. Dance music’s biggest DJ’s, collectives, and labels turn out for a weekend of parties that is not one to miss. This year we recommend a few, but be careful not to overdo it. You can find tickets and more information about these parties through Resident Advisor, Facebook, or the promoters’ own sites.
The Smartbar pre-party promises a huge lineup of residents and headliners. If you’re looking for a true taste of Midwestern talent, this is the spot to be.
Discwoman’s 3rd annual Detroit afterparty on Saturday is a great choice. The New York collective and record label focuses on creating safe spaces for partying and elevating women in dance music. If you had to sum up Discwoman in two words: Techno Feminism. Cofounders Umfang and Volvox will ensure this party goes off with a bang, and Detroit native and international touring DJ Mike Servito will take a headlining spot at this excellently curated party.
Finally (and this is the one I’m the one I’m most hyped about), The Tangent gallery has put together what essentially amounts to a mini-festival outside of movement: 3 nights and an industry brunch at the venue during Movement weekend. If you don’t have passes to the fest, it’s honestly worth coming in town just for this. The first night is hosted by legendary Berlin nightclub and record label, Tresor. Day 2 is the No Way Back 10 Year Reunion. This night will be excellent, with incredible DJs such as Carlos Souffront and Derek Plaslaiko on deck. However, if you had to pick just one night, head to the Tangent Gallery on Monday for the Bunker New York Party. This night is promising to be one of Detroit’s best. The Bunker is one of New York’s best underground clubs, and residents Mike Servito, Gunnar Haslam, and Justin Cudmore, have risen into the upper echelons of House and Techno. With excellent support from Eris Drew, Antenes, and Israel Vines – just trust me on this – don’t miss this party if you’re in town. As if all that wasn’t enough, each night has a special headliner closing each room.
Finally, if you’re in town and have the time, Detroit has a lot of history to check out. A good entry point for a lot of that history is its record stores, which showcases local labels and (if you dig hard enough) promises hidden gems within the stacks of vinyl. Memories and Melodies, Detroit Threads, 3rd Records, and Peoples Records are all worth checking for Detroit’s best Techno, House, Soul, Funk, Motown and more.
That about wraps it up! Festival coverage of Movement starts this Friday. Be sure to follow WIUX on whatever social media platform floats your boat for full festival coverage. We also have a couple interviews in the works. Nothing to announce yet, but stay tuned, and have a fun and safe Movement Detroit.