I’m still exhausted from dancing my ass off at last weekend’s Movement festival in Detroit. In my third venture there, it’s cemented its position as the best place to reconnect with the music scene and friends I love. I’ve been thinking about it all week, so of course I immediately read Mixmag’s “Top 5 Tracks From Movement Detroit 2013” article when it flashed across my news feed. It’s an interesting list with a few cool tracks, but my top moments at movement didn’t come from bleeding edge tech house tracks from hippest of labels like the ones mentioned there. My favorite moments from last weekend in Detroit came from either 15-25 years old tracks, or more recently released material I would normally write off as cheesy.
5. Miguel Campbell spinning The Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds”
Having heard Miguel’s Beatport chart topping disco-edited production, I was expecting his DJ set to be of more of the same. I was not expecting a mid-90’s style progressive house set with an injection of funk into everything touched. While he played a unreleased edit or remix of this 90’s classic with a heavier bass line, the original’s psychedelic composition was very much intact.
4. Buzz Goree throwing down Maurice Joshua’s “This is Acid”
The Made in Detroit stage always seems to be playing something different. After a lovely melodic set by Ryan Elliot, Buzz threw down this 1988 dance chart topping single and instantly reignited the party. Iconic tracks have their place.
3. Carl Craig rocking “Quetzal” by Los Hermanos in a wine bar
“An Intimate Evening with Carl Craig” at Motor City Wine was far and away the best way I’ve ever started the Movement weekend. The 60-person gathering was festive enough to get you in the mood, but relaxed enough to not wear you out. In the style of my favorite party here in Portland, Carl Craig was DJ – no opening or closing act necessary – and his set builded elegantly while being all over the map. My highlight of the night was this progressive sounding bomb that went of around 1am while sipping “Carl Craig with Bubbles” wine.
2. Soul Clap jamming the Frankie Knuckles remix of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” in the sun
The Beatport stage has moved from its usual location between the trees to where the Red Bull Music Academy Stage used to be by the cement pyramid. While the stage has traded the natural ambiance and shade for a larger and level plot in the sun, the lineup of the trendiest names in tech house remained mostly the same. Soul Clap mixed things up by unleashing a medley of piano house and disco at the height of the days warmth at 4pm which enhanced the vibe considerably. If there’s one thing the festival could have used more of this year, it was blissful daytime vibes like this classic Frankie Knuckles remix.
1. Ellen Allien dropping GTA’s “Booty Bounce” in a howling rainstorm
Monday was a tough day for a lot of folks still tearing up the festival. Two days of festival and three nights/days of afterpartying had taken its tole on the crowd and the weather had taken 180 degree turn for the worse. The Beatport stage felt like the deck of an aircraft carrier in a storm that afternoon. The wind and rain combined for a horizontal downpour off the river. The tarps covering the turntables in the DJ booth looked like they were barely holding on. A significant percentage of the crowd was wearing ponchos and there was clearly less energy on the dance floor. Ellen Allien came on and started with a sensitive and easy to listen to deep house track, then tore out the rulebook by dropping an absurd Miami Bass track with the silliest vocal you’ve ever heard. The crowd responded fervently to the fun and unexpected cut. When the climax hit and the vocal line was pitched up to an Alvin and the Chipmunks octave, the entire stage went ballistic and a dumbfounded grin swept Ellen’s face. Not even she could believe the extent she had lifted the mood of the entire stage. Is this a track I would give a shit about if I heard it on Soundcloud? Probably not. But it boosted my attitude on that afternoon more than anything else. Context is everything in live performance and Ellen’s risk paid off bigtime.