3 Reasons Why Movement Is Unlike Any Other Electronic Music Festival
Movement Electronic Music Festival celebrated its 10-year anniversary this Memorial Day weekend. The weather was perfect (aside from a couple quick showers), the people were unique, the music was consistent, and Detroit came alive for this musical celebration of everything techno and house. Detroit was the birthplace of the music Movement showcases, and everyone in attendance became completely immersed in the underground world. Movement is far different from any other electronic music festival on the circuit today. There are a few overarching qualities that make this festival one for the bucket list; the location, the music (duh), and the people who continue to return every year.
Detroit has had its ups and downs. Several houses, buildings and skyscrapers lie abandoned since the collapse of the auto industry. This means unbelievably cheap real estate… as long as someone doesn’t burn it down before you can fix it up. But, while the economic state of the city is never consistent, the music scene has held strong for generations. For ten years, Movement has consistently brought underground music for those who like to get down and dirty into the wee hours of the morning. Held at Hart Plaza, this cement playground was the perfect setting for Movement. With several stadium-style stairs, there was plenty of room for everyone to gather and get lost in the bass. The Main Stage, the Beatport Stage, and a little bit of the Underground carried a multi level platform for everyone to catch a glimpse of the action. The Red Bull Stage, right next to the Detroit River, had a grassy knoll perfect for hanging in the shade and listening to the old-school grooves that regularly came through the speakers. The Thump Stage kept an open mind with an open-air setting at the front end of the fest, along with the Opportunity Detroit tent.
You’ll find more black worn at Movement than neon. You also won’t be hearing the term “turnt” or “turn up” at this festival either. Those attending Movement are veterans in the world of music festivals, they don’t need furry boots and LED hoods to have a good time. It’s a refreshing change from most other electronic festivals that have been completely overrun by the bro types and “kandi kidz.” The crowd at Movement is more mature than those attending EDC for the first time. It’s not their first time. Most who headed to the festival this year have gone at least a few times, and for good reason. Once you get a taste of this side of electronic music, it’s hard to re-enter into the “big room” scene.
The Detroit music scene is deep rooted, so the festival also seemed to be a family affair. With the techno and house scene growing popular in the 1970’s, several of those attending the festival grew up with their parents enjoying the same kind of music, and they were bound to pass on the tradition to their kids. Families of all ages came to Movement, with small children donning sound-blocking headphones to protect their fragile ears. While some may disagree with the little ones attending (I swear I saw an infant), these guys are bound to be festival kids for life and keep the tradition going.
Dance crews were also a staple at this year’s Movement. B-boy dance crews of all shapes and sizes gathered in circles throughout the festival to bring their talents to the masses. Never has this writer seen so many dance crews battle it out at a festival. Of course, some dancers were much more impressive than others but nothing was taken away from the overall entertainment value of the dance battle.
The whole of Movement was catered to those who truly live and breathe music. A booth in the VIP area held a Model 8 channel mixer for anyone to come and try. One could hear several people Ooh and Ahh as they turned buttons and made their own mixes right on the spot.
It’s been said that electronic music is a male-dominated world. This “fact” is no longer the case at Movement. It’s unclear why deep and dark grooves have become a genre for the ladies, but they are becoming the ones to bring the beats and kill it every time. Never have so many women taken the stage at an electronic music festival. In fact, each stage showcased a female lead at the festival at least once throughout the weekend, most having several ladies take the stage; a refreshing change to say the least.
DJs used to spin vinyl before CDJs and Ableton entered the scene, but some are still stuck on vinyl and we love it. Difficult to travel with and dangerous to spin in an open setting, several artists including Ellen Allien and DJ Godfather braved the weather and random flying objects to spin their records old school.
Below are some brief weekend highlights:
Mister Joshooa opened up the Beatport Stage with old-school disco to kick off the first night setting the mood for the stage for the entire weekend. The stage crew held up tarps and barriers for the inevitable rain that always seems to fall on the Midwest Memorial Day weekend.
Kenny Dope, at the Red Bull Stage, brought some kicking old-school disco tunes that kept crews dancing track after track. It was difficult to leave the vibes at the Red Bull Stage.
Seth Troxler brought a huge crowd to the main stage and kept them there. The remainder of the night at main stage contained back-to-back deep bass that kept everyone in a trance. From Borderland (Juann Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald) to Maceo Plex, it seemed no one was willing to budge for these hypnotizing artists.
To close out main stage, Kraftwerk gave out thousands of 3D glasses for everyone to enjoy an in-your-face robotic experience unlike any other. All four members lined up on the stage in a row, each with their own box of equipment. They barely moved and let the 3D projections behind them take the crowd through an electronic experience that could never be recreated… well, until their next set of course.
Skrillex’s OWSLA label held the Underground stage on day two for a label showcase to pull the younger crowd to the darker depths of the festival. Again, the ladies held the stage a couple times as Rezz and Mija played some bass heavy sets to get the festival rolling.
Matador at the main stage literally pulled people from every end of Movement like a magnet. Any passerby stopped to groove as his uniquely haunting aura filled the speakers.
The Black Madonna played a 2-hour set at the Red Bull Stage that kept people there the whole time. Any moment there was a thought to move on, she pulled another old school jam or remix to pull you right back in.
Art Department’s deeply haunting set was a destination for several people at the festival. Holding the Thump Stage for as long as he could, those who entered didn’t dare leave until he left the decks for Ellen Allien to spin her vinyl in a flawless fashion.
Âme was a pleasant first for this writer, their DJ set at the Beatport stage had any wanderers-in searching for their schedules to see who was making such a killing on stage. At festival with such similar artists, these guys stood out among the crowd.
By the time What So Not pulled out all the stops at the Underground Stage, the heat was almost unbearable. People were packed like sardines to catch his hard-hitting set.
Sunday was the day to attend! Not sure if it was because of Memorial Day or a coincidence of schedules, but the Sunday lineup dominated the rest of the weekend.
The Red Bull Stage was a raunchy 90’s takeover as DJ Funk and DJ Godfather held the stage into the evening before Big Freedia pulled out all the stops to add some shock and awe to the festival. A twerk contest opened up the set as one by one, big booty girls of all shapes and sizes shook what their mama gave them for the crowd. I swear one girl almost literally shook her ass off. It appeared as though the thing was going to drop to the ground she was twerking so hard. Soon after, Big Freedia himself gave it his all. Never before and never again will a man twerk like Big Freedia can. The whole spectacle was a unique change from the usual deep tech/house grooves surrounding the rest of the festival.
There was little reason to leave the Red Bull stage as Zelooperz and J.Phlip (yet again with the ladies) brought everyone back to reality after the spectacle of Big Freedia. Then, Justin Martin took the stage. A favorite of the fest, this guy was unstoppable.
The clincher of the evening was the closing set by Get Real – Claude VonStroke and Green Velvet. It was a call to arms for all Dirtybirds in attendance. Fans were decked out in “Oh My Claude” shirts and everything Dirtybird. A flawless way to end the weekend, but it had many people torn as Richie Hawtin closed out the evening at the Beatport Stage as well. The tragedy of festivals is that there’s literally too much happening to catch every talented artist on the lineup.
The entirety of Movement has continued to be unlike any electronic festival on the market today. From the crowd to the music to Detroit itself, there’s a reason this festival has been going strong for ten years. We can’t wait to see what this festival brings for the next decade and the next generation of house music freaks. See you next year!