Editor’s Choice: Top Performances of Movement 2014
Over the sunshine-filled Memorial Day weekend, Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival attracted a record-breaking 107,000 attendees from all over the globe. The experience in Detroit was magical as always, with locals pridefully representing their city and visitors partying the Motor City way-a no frills approach to dancing, making new friends, and fighting off the sleep that creeps up like a dark passenger. After plenty of recovery, reflection, and a new reality in which the first thing on our minds was not “Which DJ should I catch next?”, we have chosen our favorite sets of this year’s Movement festival. Each day, we found ourselves enthralled by the engaging performances taking place across Hart Plaza. Here are our top 10.
Sean Deason @ Made in Detroit
Part of the tertiary wave of influential Detroit techno producers, Sean Deason’s music embodies the Motor City sound-futuristic with soul. Kicking off an extraordinary weekend of glorious dance music, the Matrix Records label boss got the party vibes started with uplifting house grooves and bone-rattling techno. Towards the end of his dynamic set, Sean dropped Disclosure’s “F for You” featuring r-n-b queen Mary J. Blige’s vocals, and the crowd exploded with celebration. We all knew it was a sign of the spectacular weekend upon us. -JH
Metro Area [live] @ Red Bull Music Academy
Providing some of the funkiest beats all weekend, the legendary dance music duo played a live performance that had our boogie bones rattling from start to finish. Performing hits off of their iconic self-titled album, Metro Area crafted a symphony of rich synths that electrified the crowd. The colorful sounds provided the perfect soundtrack for the sunset-stained Detroit sky. -JH
Stacey Pullen @ Made in Detroit
There was a palpable buzz amidst the crowd at the Made in Detroit stage on Saturday night. Re-energizing our tired feet with his arsenal of dancefloor weapons, Stacey Pullen masterfully crafted a blend of pure party anthems that made dancing involuntary. The legendary Detroit techno producer represented the city mightily with an assortment of peak-time floor scorchers that made this stage just a little bit hotter than the rest of them. As we lost ourselves in the sea of party people, the feel-good vibes were undeniable; we heard from many that Stacey Pullen’s set was one of the overwhelming favorites of the weekend. -JH
Chris Liebing @ Underground
Capping off an amazing first day of the festival was CLR boss Chris Liebing, who came to the sub-bass-heavy Underground stage armed with techno bombs which he set off with precision one after another to a surprisingly light crowd. Unlike the bulk of the acts before him on this stage, Liebing mixed in some serious melodies instead of keeping all focus on the low frequencies. The captivating, maniacal grin on his face was infectious, causing everyone in the audience to lose themselves in the happy darkness that only radiates from a true master of his craft like Liebing. -AA
Max Cooper @ Beatport
Kicking off day 2 was an absolutely mesmerizing set by the always-thoughtful producer Max Cooper, who effortlessly navigated between minimal techno, glitch, post-classical, and tech house. Although the crowd was sparse, everyone was moved by his artful mixing. It was almost like seeing him in a small club, not the massive festival it was. Hands down, the best time of day to hit the Beatport stage is before 4 PM. You’ll actually have room to let loose, and for Cooper’s set, this was very much appreciated. We hope to see him back at Movement soon. -AA
Jimmy Edgar @ Red Bull Music Academy
Up next, we ventured to the main stage to catch Detroit’s own Jimmy Edgar. Edgar proved he is just now hitting his prime, taking the audience by the hand on a bass-laden journey through time and space. Employing the multi-sensory values of his label/design house Ultramajic, Edgar filled the larger-than-life video screens with his own visual designs. It was a welcome reminder of the mystique of electronic music. Not surprisingly, the crowd tripled during his set. -AA
Robert Hood [live] @ Underground
Widely considered as one of the founders of minimal techno, Robert Hood’s live PA set was a live experience unlike any other. Sans computers, the Motor City legend played techno in its purest form as disciples of the music held up bibles during his set- a symbol of their religious experience. Completely entranced in supersensory visuals and relentless bass, the audience watched in awe as Hood played dance music just as the techno gods intended. -JH
Miguel Migs @ Red Bull Music Academy
On Monday afternoon, San Francisco-based producer Miguel Migs played a dynamic set full of funky house beats. It was obvious that many of us in the crowd were still recovering from afterparties the previous night, but the deep house sultan made us forget our hangovers as he blended a smooth and soulful assortment of songs from his label, Get Salted, and other established deep house imprints. Miguel Migs’ smooth transitions boosted our spirits, as he tends to let the previous track ride out like a white horse galloping away into a picturesque sunset. Always on point, Migs offered up his DJ best and we were all the recipients of a truly memorable set. -JH
Dustin Zahn @ Underground
After an afternoon in the hot sun, a trip down the rabbit hole to the Underground was a treat, especially with the force that is Dustin Zahn behind the decks. The Berlin-based producer brought the sounds of his city with him to the delight of a thick crowd. The warehouse vibe of the Underground didn’t seem more appropriate at any other point in the weekend. Zahn is a real artist, and his set impressed fans of both the original Detroit techno sound and the new Berghain-ready type. -AA
Loco Dice B2B Carl Cox @ Red Bull Music Academy
Just shy of the end of the festival was a set for the techno anthology, a back to back blowout by two contemporary kings of tech house – Desolat purveyor Loco Dice and Intec Digital don Carl Cox. The energy of the crowd was electric as the pair laid down one booty-destroying beat after another. The smiles on the DJs’ faces (and those of Pete Tong, DJ Sneak, and several other headliners who stood behind them on stage) were matched by thousands in the audience. The rhythm of each and every heart in the place beat in sync, and it was an absolute delight – a display of the power of music and the reason we all ritually attend gatherings such as this one. -AA
Until next year, Movement.
Top Photo Credit: Douglas Wojciechowski. Other Photos: Aleah Axiom.