DETROIT — If the giant commercial music festival seems to be a model of the recent past and the small, carefully framed festival seems one of the evolving future, Detroit experienced both past and future last weekend.
The Movement Electronic Music Festival had its tenth annual edition here on Memorial Day weekend, attracting a total of more than 100,000 people from Saturday to Monday to Hart Plaza downtown and to after-parties until daybreak around the city. They wandered among six stages in the waterfront plaza to see artists from various eras, places of origin and levels of popularity: Kraftwerk, Adam Beyer, Four Tet, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, the Black Madonna, the duo of Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald. For a major festival with sponsorships and heavy promotion, it’s low on flash — no fireworks shows, no A-list movie stars on private terraces. But Movement is easy to understand from a distance. It’s a dance-music locus and a tourist draw in the city that gave rise to techno. It appeals to the body.
Offsite and after hours in the clubs is a different story. At the Saturday night party for Tresor, the German record label with a stake in Detroit culture, I saw the old-school Detroit D.J. Claude Young play a vertiginous set, teasing the room with techno and disco records, interrupting and cutting up songs relentlessly, keeping the tempo high and ending with David Bowie’s “Golden Years,” weirdly accelerated to beat-match the song that came before it. Some time after 3 a.m. Monday at No Way Back, the Sunday night party for the Detroit record label Interdimensional Transmissions, I heard BMG — Brendan Gillen, the label’s founder, a kind of historian and a rigorous underground techno D.J. since the mid-1990s — hold forth for about 90 minutes. He ended with a deconstruction of Prince’s “Erotic City,” or so I heard; I had moved on by then. That party wrapped up at 10 a.m.
Read the rest of the feature on Detroit’s Movement festival by The New York Times.