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Concert Reviews:
Rappers, live performances get Movement off to a hot start
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- "I know this is an electronic (expletive) festival," Action Bronson told the crowd in front of him on Saturday, May 24, at the Movement festival's MOOG stage, "but you're gonna sit out there and watch me rap. You've got no (expletive) choice.

"And you're gonna like it!"

The bearded, plus-size New York MC hardly had to issue such an edict. The Movement fans liked him just fine on an opening day that was ruled by rap -- and by other live performances that mixed with DJ sets to make for 12 hours that were as satisfying for the music as they were for the spectacular weather that brought a heavy throng down to Hart Plaza.

Bronson, who's managed by Detroit native and Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg, was arguably the class act of the MOOG stage, romping through a catalog that sampled from his independent releases and his 2013 major label debut "Saaab Stories" and winning over fans with references to the Detroit Pistons and smoking marijuana. The second part of his assured half-hour set also turned into a duo exhibition with fellow rapper Riff Raff, his partner on the upcoming "Galaxy Gladiators" album, as the two traded rhymes on several songs including "Bird on a Wire," which also brought Detroit's DJ Godfather and Lil Debbie to the stage for a rowdy gang collaboration.

That also gave Riff Raff an opportunity himself for a sloppy 50-minute performance that preceded Bronson's. The heavily buzzed-about Texas rapper came on nearly 40 minutes later than planned -- shortening the sets of everyone else who followed -- and was dogged by both technical problems and an unfocused game plan that left his DJ and dancers rolling with seemingly indiscriminate and random changes. He did, however, make sure that everyone knew the June 24 release date for his sophomore album, "Neon Icon," and previewed the collection with songs such as "How to Be a Man," "Tip Toe Wing in my Jawwwdinz" and "Dolce and Gabbana."

Other live performance highlights from Saturday included: rapper Armanni Reign's mash-up with Ed Rush & Optical that closed the MOOG stage; Underground Resistance's fierce "Timeline" blending of techno and jazz and Los Hermanos' smooth funk-techno fusion, both on the Red Bull Music Academy Stage; and the DJ-and-drums duo DBX's seamless ebb-and-flow hour on the Made in Detroit stage.

Movement's DJs certainly held their own on Saturday, too, with DJ Godfather and Chicago's DJ Zebo rocking the MOOG stage with a four-handed exposition that went longer than planned due to Riff Raff's tradiness. Britain's Simian Mobile Disco duo touched on some of its remix work on the packed-to-the-gills Beatport stage -- which Claude VonStroke closed with his own electrifying set. Germany's Michael Mayer delivered an energetic transition from evening into night on the Red Bull stage, while Detroit techno veteran Stacey Pullen offered an old-school tutorial on the Made in Detroit stage.

This year's Movement also marked the debut of a Silent Disco area, where DJs spun for electronic fans wearing headphones, which created a kind of pantomime for those who couldn't hear the music. set in the far southeast corner of the festival grounds, though, the tent never hit capacity, perhaps a sign that Movement fans prefer to hear the music booming from the speakers.

Movement starts at noon Sunday and Monday, May 25 and 26, at Hart Plaza. Single day passes are $65. For more information, including schedules and after-parties, visit www.movement.us.

Web Site: www.movement.us

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