Detroit being Detroit, where the roar of 4/4 beats has been the city's primary danceable soundtrack since the 1980s, it isn't surprising that what you'd get at Memorial Day weekend's Movement Festival is an overdose of high-voltage, raw techno power. Artists came ready to play in the sun (no rain this year, temperatures remained at a near-perfect 70 degrees all three days), cheating no serious raver an earful of big-system, stage-rattling (literally), and, quite possibly, deafening bliss on four massively rigged stages.
While Adam Beyer slashed, crashed, and burned it up on the Beatport Stage, Steve Bug, François K, and Carl Cox upped the ante on the nearby Vitamin Water Main Stage with even louder, but more varied programs that included rhythms broken and beautifully beaten, disco basslines, and cheeky references to pop and jazz. At the same time, Detroit titan of dub tech-house fusicology, Mike Huckaby, rocked slow and easy on the Made in Detroit stage, situated in an underground cavern beneath the riverfront's Hart Plaza, where all official action was. On top of it all, a cluster of after-parties kept the weekend rolling virtually non-stop, for five days (beginning with the Prodigy at Friday's official pre-party, though topped by a sold-out Sunday post-midnight river cruise featuring Luciano, Loco Dice, Carl Craig, and Stacey Pullen). Choices, so many choices. Wherever you stumbled, it seemed, a party was ready to bust out underfoot.
What might be surprising to some is that the breakout star of Movement '09 was not a traditional Detroit-style performer, but the musically ambidextrous Flying Lotus, who somehow channeled J Dilla (he performed on the Red Bull Academy Stage with the late Detroit hip-hop star's name emblazoned across his chest), Martyn, Kode9, and Soundmurderer (with the SM man himself, Todd Osborn, looking on from backstage) simultaneously. It was a stunning performance on the festival's final day. Hundreds of fans squeezed tightly in front of and on both sides of the platform; hundreds more sat or stood on a concrete riser directly in front of the stage. Benga was to follow, but he canceled (disappointingly, he was the sole dubstep artist scheduled).
For shear sex appeal it was hard to top Lee Curtiss and Seth Troxler (who launched his DJ set gorgeously with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti's "Falling," from Twin Peaks) back-to-back on the underground stage; Ellen Allien and a Beatport Stage filled with dancing female friends and fans; and the incomparably cool Carl Craig, who beat-matched sci-fi sound efx, Chicago acid, Westside Detroit techno, and jazz past, present, and future on the Main Stage. As the bleary-eyed masses danced and thrusted fists up in the air, the guy simply known as C2—who incidentally turned 40 during the weekend and was named Creative Director for next year's Movement Festival the same day—looked down and smiled, then played on and on. Photos by Walter Wasacz.
The eternally youthful Carl Craig schooled a huge crowd inside the big bowl at the Vitamin Water Main Stage, with a blend of all things electronic (or not) and infectiously danceable.
Seth Troxler, bathed in green, on the Made in Detroit Stage.
Deep, dark dubs in the middle of the afternoon from Detroit's Luke Hess.
Flying Lotus, sound-murdering everyone in sight on the Red Bull Academy Stage. Photo by Carleton S. Gholz.
Surreal speakers in the sky for Flying Lotus at the Red Bull Academy Stage. Photo by Jennifer A. Paull