At Movement Festival, Detroit Artists Shine Brightest
Movement Festival started out as a free local music gathering and over the past 20 years has transformed into one of the premiere dance music festivals in the United States. The promoters behind the event, Paxahau, seem to consistently deliver a lineup that continues to attract people from all over the world to make Detroit a go-to destination during Memorial Day weekend. Booking world renown talent such as Joseph Capriati, Loco Dice and the Martinez Brothers (among other popular names in the scene) are the big attractions for the event. But the true magic of Movement Festival lies in the homegrown talent on the lineup. That was never more apparent than this year, where the lineup was star-studded with dance music’s biggest names, yet Detroit artists sparkled brightest, providing tourists with a dazzling dance music history lesson and demonstrating what makes the Motor City’s scene so supremely unique.
Make no mistake, there were plenty of international acts that played memorable sets and left plenty full of intrigue. Helena Hauff absolutely destroyed the underground stage with a demonic techno vinyl-only set and Laurent Garnier played an elegant, emotive set that took dancers down memory lane. We also heard wonderful things about KinK’s live set and Manik’s debut performance, but for Detroiters playing Movement is a right of passage in the scene and is a big career benchmark for many. Because of the importance of this festival to the city and the scene, Detroit artists just know how to bring it and bring it hard. They know this is their chance to represent the city and themselves and their performances reflect that pride and responsibility to show tourists what Detroit dance music is all about.
Festival debuts by Bevlove, DJ Holographic and Black Noi$e were standout performances while some veterans played the unexpected. Mike Huckaby delivered a blistering techno set appropriately staged at the RA Underground and Claude Vonstroke, who many in the Detroit underground scene consider too mainstream for their liking nowadays, headlined the main stage with a proper techno set that brought him back to his Detroit roots. It was all surprising and exciting – exactly what you want out of festival sets.
Some of the best sets of the entire weekend weren’t on the Main Stage or even the beloved Beatport stage, but rather on the Stargate stage, curated by Carl Craig one day and Kevin Saunderson on another. Waajeed delivered deep vibes with a live performance, rounding it out with sparkling live vocals from Ideeyah and Steffanie Christi’an. Amp Fiddler, Will Sessions and Dames Brown played a funktastic set showcasing music off their upcoming album, The One, for the first time.
DJ Dez Andres played a jazzy house set full of afro-latin inspired percussion and melodies. Delano Smith played a dynamic techno set at sunset that rivaled all other sets played on the main stage. Stacey Pullen delivered an energetic performance that had the crowd buzzing with excitement. A smooth transition from Stacey Pullen into the Detroit Love master himself, Carl Craig, was one of the most memorable moments of the festival. Carl Craig delivered a master lesson in DJing with an epic set, highlighted by the theme song from 2001 Space Odyssey.
From hometown heroes to legendary veterans, Detroit’s talent shined the brightest at Movement Festival. Calling Detroit “home” comes with responsibility when you’re in the dance music scene. There’s no room for mediocrity because the scene has such deep roots and even those considered “no name DJs” play better than most. It was never more apparent than this year, where Detroit’s finest showcased the significance of what this music and its history mean to the city. With performances full of passion, pride and hard work that embodies Detroit those who call this glorious place their home delivered in spectacular fashion.