Promoters keen to separate the nocturnal wheat from scenester chaff can learn from those behind the 2016 European edition of Detroit’s machine music festival.
Basing the event in Turin—home of Fiat, but only a half-regular club scene—means many ticket holders travel in from elsewhere. Opting to have the biggest night on a Monday also adds an air of out and out hedonism, and the soundtrack—largely focussed on ‘proper techno’—leaves little room for part-timers, not least if punters arrived in time for warm-ups on Friday and Saturday. Sadly, I didn’t, landing ready to hit up Sunday’s final pre-party, with I-Robots headlining mid-sized city center venue The Beach, and keeping things chunky, punchy, and groovy in a way that defines the Opilec label’s love of solid beats backed by re-thunk obscurities from the 1970s and '80s. Although it was disappointingly attended, it was impossible not to feel a sense of satisfaction at hearing these muscular references to disco, synth punk, and pop on native turf.
It was certainly a contrast to the majority of what went down at the main event. If there’s one thing Movement Torino could never be accused of its small scale anything, calling the vast Lingotto Fiere exhibition and conference complex home. Divided into four large spaces, lineup always matches for scale, so despite walking through the doors an hour or so after they opened, stages were already boasting heavyweight headliners.
Opting for ‘Papa’ Sven Vath, disappointingly all the elements were not entirely present and correct. The atmosphere was tangibly high, but the systems and rig struggled to meet the demands of the mixer, crushed under weighty kicks and hefty lows. A fact that became more worrying once I considered the comparatively melodic tones of Cocoon’s bossman up against many other artists on the bill.
Similar problems persisted elsewhere, too, with Pan Pot’s set in particular falling foul of this. Thankfully, though, in the grand scheme it wasn’t enough to muddy the overall experience, with plenty to relish elsewhere, and the later this particular all-nighter went on the better it got in terms of speakers fulfilling necessary requirements. Nevertheless, after attending in 2015, wherein quality of production was a highlight, this shouldn’t have been the case at any point.
Gripes done, there’s plenty of praise to be lauded on the occasion, too. Affording a decent amount of time for DJs and acts to peddle their wares is fast becoming a rarity at mammoth events, and on this front the programmers got it right. Kink’s exceptional 90 minute live offering being just one example wherein someone was allowed to explore tones other than sledgehammers, keeping it warm and immersive before unleashing the kind of clangers that define the tougher end of his oeuvre.
The highlights didn’t end there, either. Gazing out at several thousand heads succumbing to disorientation as Movement’s big man Derrick May delivered some pure Detroit heaviness was always going to be memorable. Following Jeff Mills, the effect was ten fold, resulting in a sea of hands punching at an unreachable ceiling bathed in strobes as the mainroom approached its final hurrah. And next door, Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock proved why dark, rolling Berlin beats continue to entice masses in black; juggernaut propulsion and sci-fi notes creating hard but tripped-out 5am moments.
Ultimately, though, the finest party atmosphere fell to veritable line-up outsiders, with an entire room dedicated to the Apollonia team and their comrades in stomping techy stylings. The central trio themselves—Shonky, Dyed Soundorom, and Dan Ghenacia—played out four straight hours until close, during which they achieved truly impressive levels of crowd mania without really shifting gear.
Housed in the most intimate of arenas, size served as favour to acoustics, offering kick-you-in-the-chest drums and the kind of bass warbles you feel from hairline to toe. With enough range in the stacks to ensure vocals loops and percussive snaps were aurally front and centre too, it was enough to forgive any aforementioned sins.
Leaving suitably exhausted after the near-12 hour marathon, a couple of things became clear. Firstly, making the most of Movement Torino should be about more than the gargantuan big sell alone. Good as it was, based on my experience here 12 months prior, wherein the finest hours were a small closing party at Scuolo Holden with Virgo Four, I couldn't help but regret not being able to take in the full programme. The added benefit of that being time in Turin, a city of spectacular beauty yet void of the masses found elsewhere in Italy. Secondly, even weatherbeaten clubbers can still be taken by surprise, with gems coming from corners of the line up they might least expect.
If nothing else it shows, for the second year running, this particular jaunt is one of a small number where you might actually learn a little from half a day spent dancing.
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