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Movement, Electric Forest festivals mutually benefit from association

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Detroit's Movement Electronic Music Festival and the Electric Forest festival in Rothbury, Mich., were inevitable bedfellows.

Electronic music was a major part of the Electric Forest menu when it launched as the Rothbury Music Festival in 2008 and has been even more dominant since it re-set under its current name in 2011. The Movement team curated a couple of events at last year's Electric Forest and reciprocated by featuring an Electric Forest stage at this year's festival in Detroit's Hart Plaza.

Now Movement is presenting a stage on Thursday, June 27, during Electric Forest's opening night.

It's rare for two ostensibly competing festivals in the same state, and just over four weeks apart, to be so intertwined. But Movement and Electric Forest have clearly found more benefits in cooperation than competition.

"It's great because here are folks in Michigan, and if anything they were here before us doing great things in the Detroit area," says Electric Forest producer Jeremy Stein of Colorado-based Madison House Presents. "There's certainly a natural crossover between everything we're both interested in. There's a strong kinship and ideology there."

Dana Boyette of the Paxahau Promotions Group, which produces Movement, says his organization started keeping tabs on what was going on in the western part of the state since the inaugural Rothbury festival. The company was even planning to be involved in the third edition of the event in 2010, which wound up being canceled. But Paxahau was impressed by the retooled Electric Forest concept, and last year it presented two events -- a late-night party inside the site's Sherwood Forest with ambient artist Robert Rich and another stage featuring up-and-coming Detroit acts.

And making Electric Forest part of this year's Movement festival seemed like a natural symmetry when some of the sponsored stages began shifting around.

"There wasn't a way to just pick up the Electric Forest and plop it down in Hart Plaza, but using some cool lighting and other techniques here and there, we were able to get close -- enough so that someone who had been there would say, 'This is reminiscent of Electric Forest,' " explains Paxahau's Boyette, noting that the area around the former Beatport stage at Movement "is kind of a foresty atmosphere and has a similar vibe. And a lot of the music that's featured there caters more to newer, younger fans who get into (electronic music) through dubstep, so it seemed like a good fit."

And, as far as Boyette is concerned, it worked.

"Every time I walked over there it was tough to get through the wall of enthusiasm," he recalls. "there were so many kids, all day long. I really think it reflect their headspace (at Electric Forest) and the kind of music they have over there."

This year's Movement-curated show on Electric Forest's Tripolee stage will include performances by Headhunterz, RL Grime, Michael Menert, Ana Sia, Ryan Hemsworth, a Tribe Called Red and the west coast group Helicopter Sundown. The festival's Stein says he hopes to see the Movement and Paxahau involvement at Electric Forest continue to grow and expand in coming years as well.

"I think historically in the music industry people see competition between different organizations," he explains. "I wouldn't say that's shifted all the way by any means, but there are definitely family organizations that would rather build bridges and make each other better."

Meanwhile, Stein is gearing up for an Electric Forest that he predicts will draw more than 30,000, making it bigger than even the first Rothbury festival. Electric Forest has, in fact, been growing steadily since the 2011 relaunch. Besides the music -- including three sets by the band String Cheese Incident -- the festival will include Silent Disco, other new features and attractions in the Sherwood Forest area and a marching band assembled via a social media promotion.

"I think what's happening here is there's a certain integrity level, and folks from a lot of walks of life are trusting it across the board as an experience," Stein explains. "It's become something really unique on the musical landscape and festival landscape. There's a culture and identity growing from Electric Forest that's way more than the sum of the parts adding up.

"It's becoming a real- life community, something I think is pretty rare. If you want ot focus on festivals, there are only a few that foster their own culture from the inside like this, so that's pretty exciting."

The 2013 Electric Forest festival takes place Thursday, June 27, through June 30 at the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Mich. Tickets are $259 for the weekend, with a $575 VIP package, and $162.50 for Saturday and Sunday only. Visit www.electricforestfestival.com for schedules and more information.

Web Site: www.electricforestfestival.com

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