Memorial weekend in Detroit brought forth another monstrously successful Movement Electronic Music Festival produced by the Detroit-based event production company Paxahau. The festival featured more than 150 artists, spanning over six stages, and boasted more than 100,000 attendees. The event ran from Saturday, May 23 to Monday, May 25.
The lineup, as always, featured some of electronic music’s top performers.
This year Paxahau worked hard to incorporate many added features designed to create a better experience for attendees. To many people’s delight this year featured an expanded riverfront biergarten, in addition to the slew of normal food and beverage options. The festival also offered rentable lockers for the first time, which came as a welcome relief for those who were saddled with supplies or newly acquired merchandise, purchased at one of the myriad vendor booths. Complimentary bike valet was also offered for the environmentally conscious. For the technology lovers, the festival featured a newly renovated technology center, which enabled people to explore both the science and the art behind where electronic music comes from and how it is made.
The festival experienced a bit of turbulence on the first day, when the newly adopted RFID wristband system had a hiccup causing an hours-long backup in the will call lines. For the rest of the festivalgoers however, day one offered an almost overwhelming amount of top-notch talent. Long-time heavy hitters Richie Hawtin, Kerri Chandler and Stacy Pullen all graced the stages offering incredible performances for the likes of every electronic-musical taste. Saturday was also peppered with top-notch live performances from industry pros like KiNK and Henrik Schwarz, both of whom represent the eclectic and multifaceted vibe surrounding the festival.
At the end of day one many fans had a serious decision to make: watch Disclosure close out Redbull stage or watch Tuskegee shut down Beatport. Disclosure burst on the scene more recently, experiencing meteoric success with their debut album, Settle, which was released in May 2013. Across the park Tuskegee (made up of long-time industry giants Seth Troxler and the Martinez Brothers) tore down the house with their signature acid-inspired house tracks. Troxler and the Martinez brothers started Tuskegee in 2014 with the intention of only releasing vinyl on a self-described “label of cultural heritage.” It’s safe to say, however, that whichever artist festivalgoers chose to close out day one with, they were not left disappointed.
Day two started off with a bang and beautiful weather. The positivity in the city was palpable as tens of thousands of fans poured back into Hart Plaza. Bob Moses, Josh Wink, Loco Dice and Maya Jane Coles are just a few of the artists that rocked the stages on Sunday. In addition to the house and techno headliners, dubstep giants Dog Blood (made up of Skrillex and Boys Noize) closed out the main stage. This came as both a surprise and added treat considering Boys Noize’s last minute cancellation at Movement in 2014.
On a sadder note, Art Department played for the last time ever as a duo in a festival setting. Playing on the Movement stage from 7:30-9 p.m. on Sunday, group members Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White brought the thunder both in terms of long-time hits and new-school jams in a set that reminded everyone why they have been a staple in the electronic music industry for the last five years. Both artists will be perusing solo careers moving forward.
It would be unfair not to give a tip-of-the-hat to the slew of hip-hop artists that brought, not only variety but also ingenuity to the festival this year. Saturday featured a smash performance by Method Man, best known for his affiliation with the East-coast hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan. Sunday also featured a breakout performance from rapper and Detroit-native Danny Brown.
One cannot mention hip-hop artists without mentioning Snoop Dog, who was arguably one of the biggest names on the lineup. He was slated to perform as his electronic-music alias DJ Snoopadelic. His set, to say the least, did not live up to most people’s expectations. Starting out his set with an encouraging old-school hip-hop ballad, it quickly slipped into a sordid mess of top 40 hits from years past. While some enjoyed the set for its nostalgic properties, most music fans were left deeply, deeply disappointed.
Despite the day three slip-up that was Snoop’s closeout performance, the final day of the festival focused – rightfully so – around highlighting Detroit techno roots. Monday, always bittersweet, boasted standout performances from Ten Walls, Maceo Plex, MK, The Sanderson Brothers, 313 The Hard Way and “Hi-Tech Soul” featuring Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May. In what some considered the best set of the festival, Sanderson and May took the opportunity to show people from all over the world exactly why Detroit is and always will be, not only the birthplace, but also the home of techno.