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Movement festival has heat, on stage and off
DETROIT -- Hot was the operative for this year’s Movement electronic music festival, both on stage and off.
The usual tens of thousands of attendees danced their way through a Memorial Day weekend of near-record temperatures, though the heat kept attendance noticeably down during the daytime hours on Saturday and Sunday. But the exuberance and all-important vibe -- as well as plenty of memorable costumes -- were intact all three days of Movement, and deep into the wee hours at afterparties.
Movement is too big for anybody to catch everything, of course, but these were some of our favorite moments from this year’s edition...
• A rare appearance by the full Wu-Tang Clan and an even more rare top-to-bottom recitation of its landmark debut album “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” celebrating its 25th anniversary, brought Movement to a killer close on Monday, May 28. With Diplo raving on the nearby Red Bull Music stage, the rap collective fired up a packed crowd in front of the Movement main stage with its muscular arrangements and karate-chopping vocal exchanges. Singer Blu Raspberry, a longtime Wu-Tang cohort who now resides in Detroit, joined the group for “Tearz,” while latter member Cappadonna brought the MC corps to nine during a post-”Enter...” set that paid tribute to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard with a bit of his “I Like It Raw” and featured a charged romp through Ghostface Killah’s “Fish.” Wu-Tang tried to extend its 80-minute set past the midnight curfew but the idea was quickly kyboshed by festival officials.
• Detroit’s Inner City celebrated its own anniversary -- 30 years since its first singles -- just before Wu-Tang, offering up nearly an hour of techno-based dance music that was, as the song says, “Big Fun.” The Kevin Saunderson-led troupe worked through the hits (“Good Life,” “Hallelujah”) and new material like “Heavy” -- all featuring new singer Steffanie Christi’an -- while longtime cohort Tommy Onyx and returning original musical director Dennis White worked the decks for club favorites such as “Future,” “Do You Love What You Feel” and “Good Luck.” Rapper Mike Ellison bookended the set with perspective-setting freestyles that rightly declared, “When it comes to this music, (there) ain’t nobody better!”
• DJ Premier kept the Red Bull Music stage grooving on Monday with a high-octane overview of his long career as a collaborator and producer, as well as a member of Gang Starr and, with Detroit rapper Royce da 5’9”, PHRyme. His set also included memorial musical shout-outs to the Notorious B.I.G. and to Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys.
• Mark Flash struck a strong underground groove during his performance Monday on the Underground Stage, treating Movement goers seeking to beat the heat with a cool sonic collage that put some hard-hitting House into da house.
• Morning might seem like an odd time for electronic music fans to START, but the Where Are My Keys? day party, both inside and outside, at Detroit’s Marble Bar on Monday started bright and early at 9 a.m., with plans to roll well into Tuesday morning, May 29, with a different DJ every hour. Newcomers DJ Blair French and Tod Modes stole the early part of the day with their World Music/African-inspired set moving on to a more soulful/funkier style left the crowd dancing and craving more.
• Movement goers and boat enthusiasts were treated to an afternoon Sunday cruise on aboard Detroit Yacht Party 2! on the Detroit river. Leaving at noon, DJs Dabura and Chris Rober got a quick start with a mostly beat-heavy House set, giving the crowd plenty to dance to. The two level boat boasted a dance floor, downstairs bar, and enough space for a comfortable cruise.
• Detroiters Amp Fiddler and the Will Sessions band brought the funk and soul to the Red Bull Music stage on Sunday, May 27. Fiddler played a mix of keyboards and keytar alongside the 10-piece group, weaving virtuosity and strong stage presence into the kind of exciting display of live music that’s rarely part of the Movement offerings. The set was unfortunately cut short when one a backup singer collapsed due to heat exhaustion, however.
• German DJ and producer Marcel Dettmann’s Sunday set was a perfect gateway into the later hours of the festival. The blue and pink lights on the Pyramid Stage lit up the sky along the Detroit River, while images of a woman’s silhouette dancing couldn’t have mixed any better with Dettmann’s heavy beats and high energy.
• Kevin Saunderson’s first appearance at Movement 2018 came while headlining his Origins Elevation package Sunday on the Stargate Stage. Declaring, “What’s up Detroit? This is home, This is where it all started!,” Saunderson steered his playlist from soulful beats and vocal samples too more trance-like material. His masterful ability to control every aspect of the music, stopping and starting on beat, adding and subtracting different elements throughout, made for an exciting hour-plus performance.
• Detroit techno luminary Carl Craig offered plenty of Detroit Love Saturday, May 25, on the Stargate stage, from the expert build of Clark Warner’s opening set through a live instrument-accented performance by Andres and a pounding exposition by Stacey Pullen. Craig’s own portion of the day was chatty and encouraging, lacing his musical excursions with declarations such as “I’m gonna keep it real. That’s because I love you, Detroit.”
• Ed Rush & Optical brought a headliner’s intensity to its Saturday evening set on the Red Bull Music Stage, as did Justin Martin next door on the Movement main stage. The double punch of one to the other was a solid set up for Claude VonStroke’s propulsive blend of House and Techno on the main stage.
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