An Ode to Movement Electronic Music Festival
No supporter of electronic music can deny that this first half of 2012 has only confirmed that America is ready to be a strong supporter of the craze that has been sweeping Europe for decades. But the popular DJs in America don’t necessarily represent the best of the best when it comes to the true scene that is house music. At Ultra Music Festival, arguably America’s biggest electronic music festival, this past year 150,000 people flocked to watch Avicii spend the first 20 minutes of his set without playing a single record rather he had a rather prolonged introduction from Madonna. But elsewhere in the world, house music fans, perhaps “true” house music fans scoffed. There are of course, many underground offerings at Ultra and all EDM festivals in the US, and the most popular DJs in the European scene, take Jamie Jones (Resident Advisor’s #1 DJ in the world this year) who played Electric Daisy New York’s inaugural year, to a much less packed stage than all those over seeing Alesso on the main, still seem to enjoy playing them. But never in my life, at least in America, have I seen the true spirit of dance music as strong as I have at Detroit’s own Movement Electronic Music Festival.
Detroit Electronic Music Festival, referred to by fans for a long time as DEMF reinvented itself this year as Movement, bigger lights, bigger stages, and more than $200 less for a weekend pass than most major festivals. Only booking artists, including headliners that rank among the top DJs in the world, not the most popular DJs in the world, brings out the best sort of crowd. In all of my experiences at electronic music festivals, I have learned that sometimes at those filled with all of the DJ Mag top 100, DJs simply put forward a trite effort to play all their hits. As a DJ myself I must say, it is quite easy to tell when a DJ is trying, or when they are simply pushing play. I have caught many “popular” DJs in the act of simply switching the cross fader with no care before, and it truly saddens me, because to the masses that flock, they are being robbed of learning what a true DJ experience is. To all those who have not experienced something like Movement, once you do, you will understand, I can guarantee that. Watching Nic Fanciulli play a special 2 hour Back To Back (both DJs taking turns playing records) set with Joris Voorn, two of the top producers and DJs in the world can honestly be called the equivalent of our generation watching Simon and Garfunkel, two people that simply make better music together.
Of course there are more “mainstream” offerings at Movement, but Paxahau (the festivals promoters) do a fantastic job of only selecting topnotch acts. Major Lazer, the ever popular brain child of Diplo and Switch, two DJs quite familiar with the underground, closed the festival Monday night with Zeds Dead, an electro duo that has climbed the ranks of electronic respect this past year satisfied those fans who can’t go a single festival without dubstep. Movement takes place in Detroit because it is one of the birthplaces of house music. It is highly recommended that a Movement attendee spend the time to see some of the pioneers of house that came from this great city.
Carl Craig put on a lively daytime main stage set on Saturday, and Monday night one could watch Jeff Mills do with his two hands, what Swedish House Mafia does with six. And with no offense meant to the majority of the crowds at other American major electronic music festivals, when you book the legends, instead of the pop-legends, the crowd that comes out is a much more mature crowd, with less out of control teens trying to abuse as much substance as possible (something we have all seen) and more sober 20 something’s simply enjoying the music on a beautiful day. Movement is doing something for American dance music that no other festival does, it promotes purity, when you see shows at Movement you are witnessing the actual skill of DJing, not a premade, prerecorded, and easy to replicate set from one of these popular producers touring the country whose stage and lighting is more impressive than their musical talent. Which leads me to comment that the simplicity of the lighting at Movement, no giant overbearing stages, but rather the highest quality sound, lets people notice each other more, it feels like much more of a festival for the community, which is what music should be after all. So to my festival goers, of all ages shapes sizes, I urge you, if you love dance music, try to open your mind, go to a festival where you don’t know every name on the list and maybe you only recognize 3 songs played per day, I promise, you will come out a changed fan of electronic music.
Written by: Joe Kaufman