Sunday, May 24, 2009

Seems I saw you in a teenage wet dream

Posted By on Sun, May 24, 2009 at 11:19 AM

The first thing that strikes you while walking up to the Movement Festival, well before you get to Hart Plaza and its four massive sound systems that send throbbing bass signals clear across the river to another country, and high-end ear-splitting curdling howls of agony and ecstasy (at a distance, you're never quite sure what the disembodied amplified human voice with multiple efx is expressing), is that we are all in this hilarious epic thing together. We're young, we're old, we're dressed up as stupidly as can be imagined, or not. We're high as a kite, we're straight edge, we're somewhere in between. But we're here floating, striding and gliding purposefully forward to still another mad sonic adventure in Detroit, where the music is our master.

On the sidewalk on Jefferson near Randolph, we pass a freak jamming on a synth, singing about Jesus, playing his ass off, powered up by using cables connected to his car battery. Hardcore. At Woodward, the pedestrian and motor traffic congestion is ridiculous: hundreds of people wait for the light to change on the north and south sides of Jefferson, and on the island in its middle. It's about 6:30 p.m., prime time for coming back to the party that started at noon (with the badly-missed artfully-elegant Liz Copeland, the longtime champion of all things musically cool at WDET-FM, now based in Colorado. We weren't there yet -- sorry Liz -- but the word among trusted ears belonging to Ann Arbor-based DJ Carlos Souffront and others was that it was a virtuoso set; filled with the kind of range and eclectism that marked her presence on Detroit radio in clubs, galleries and museums. More of the same, please, for the craving masses who yearn for a surprise behind every beat. Not too much to ask from so-called futuristic music, is it?).

By the time we made it past additional hundreds of midwest ravers and assorted Euro, Japanese and South African techno tourists (we met one inside; hello Ivan) in line for tickets and onto the grounds, it was virtually all bass drum smash and pitched up rhythms and synthlines in perpertual endless ascendancy for hours on end, on every stage. Our relationship to it all became slavish: there was no escape, except into actual good music played by the still vital Francois K, timeless powerhouse Carl Cox, the (sorry, we keep saying it over and effing over again) hugely underappreciated Detroit titan of techno+house+soul Mike Huckaby, who snagged the crowd at the ill-sounding Made in Detroit Stage (the Underground Stage in years gone by) from the first note by simply slowing things the fuck down. Gawd, thank you, Huck, for understanding what we want and really need.

We hung out with the hacky sack stoner crowd by the fence near the riverfront and watched a middle-aged woman dance on the riverwalk to slamming Swedish slasher Adam Beyer on the Beatport Stage right behind us. We stood around in the middle of the plaza and asked people who was playing and where just for fun (we had the pseudo-app sked on the iPhone) but no one seemed to know or care. "Oh, I think it's Steve Bug," said Mike Servito (Untitled, Dorkwave, Ghostly, Spectral). He's in Brooklyn now, but says he hurts for Detroit. "You can do whatever you want here. I really miss it." Of course you can, dear, of course you do. We miss you, too. The music bled all over the concrete walls and pavement underfoot, the steps that led to the water, and hopefully, straight into the sweetest spot in your brain. Somewhere, surely, as I write, in some hazy reality dimly remembered or in a fleeting dream as you doze at the river's edge, it bleeds still.

We went deeper into the undifferentiated noise, literally hugged the stacks of speakers on the Main Stage and slipped quietly out into the milky night, gazing up at the majestic Detroit skyline (it somehow never looks better than on Memorial Day weekend) as we walked past begging teenage ravers, old cats playing African drums for money, people with the light of an ever-surging party in their bleary eyes.

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