In what was possibly the most shocking development in the electronic music community in recent history, techno pioneer Carl Craig was asked to step down as creative director of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. The Detroit Free News reported that Pop Culture Media, the producers of the free, three-day electronica extravaganza, terminated Craig’s three-year contract because he had failed to comply with city deadlines that require contracts for the festival’s performers.
Craig’s position will officially end on May 30, two days after the festival ends. Craig and Pop Culture Media could not be reached for comment, however it doesn’t take a fuel-cell scientist to guess how Craig, who essentially started the whole DEMF, must be feeling right now.
During my weekend carousings, I polled Detroit’s club culture on what they thought about this development. The overwhelming response was remorse and fear for the worst.
“Damn, it’s going to be Lollapalooza with turntables, I can see it now,” lamented musician Jason Peeke.
EMI Music representative Benjamin Beverly agreed with this sentiment, and the imagined prospect that perhaps next year such commercially successful acts as Prodigy or Moby would be headlining.
“I mean, I love Moby, but that’s not what it’s all about,” he grumbled.
Many fretted that DEMF might turn into yet another corporate, commercial summer festival — the primary sponsor for this year is Ford Motor Company. Yeah, we all know it takes a lot of George Washingtons to produce an event of this proportion, but last year’s festival managed to pull it off with sponsors that were primarily techno-relevant media, clubs and businesses.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is the timing of the announcement — two scant weeks before the DEMF takes place.
“His contract ends two days after the festival ends, right?” queried electronica fan Amanda Massieu of Grosse Pointe. “Why announce it now, instead of after the festival is done? That seems like a public slap in the face to me.” Indeed.
LOOK MA, IT’S ART!
In lighter news, the Center for Creative Studies held its annual student exhibition on Friday night. Despite the nasty drizzling weather (CCS even handed out complimentary umbrellas at the door; now that’s being prepared!) art lovers and friends and family of students poured in to browse the students’ projects and throw a little cash to our future starving artists of America — almost all of the artworks were for sale.
Live music spilled from corners throughout the campus, as the complimentary drinks flowed freely and attendees gorged themselves on gourmet food from local restaurants including Zoup! and Twingo’s.
Recent graduate Kelly Tierney was all smiles of post-graduate relief, as she hung out with 2000 graduate Chiwei Lee, while the slender, pale, black-clad duo of Jo Brandt and Sterling Smith were busy looking very hip, very now. As I perused the crowd of cute art-school boys with pink-haired, punk-rock mom Tiffany Holtzkemper, we mulled over the massive display of art, ranging from the staid to the bizarre to the truly brilliant.
By far, my favorite piece was David E. Peterson’s “Basic Behavior,” a combination performance-art and video piece, which documented the essential elements of daily functions, including eating, sleeping, bathing and weeing. Peterson videotaped himself doing all of the above, and each function was played on a television set (yes, even the weeing, complete with amplified sounds that echoed throughout the room). In front of each TV Peterson placed a relevant object, such as a box of crackers, a toothbrush, a sleeping bag and a roll of T.P.
For awhile, Peterson sat quietly cross-legged between two TVs, scribbling on a note pad with a big, infectious grin on his mug. Stuffy patrons of the arts meandered past, trying their best to look intellectual and introspective as they watched video of him seated on the porcelain throne.
Is it art? Depends on your perspective. Did it make me smile? You betcha.
JUNK IN PUBLIC
Next up, the Junk and Jam at the Magic Stick, a combination flea market/concert, where vendors set up tables and sold everything from vintage LPs and used clothes to handcrafted jewelry, as shoppers enjoyed the musical stylings of a plethora of bands — not to mention the naughty puppet show from the Gepetto Files and the crude, rude, vile, utterly hysterical “poetry” of Jimmy Doom.
Apparently someone tainted the drinking fountains with testosterone, as there was an unusual amount of Animal House-esque merriment taking place. During sweatysuedelips’ performance, two unidentified members from an earlier band leapt on stage and pretended to start pummeling the crap out of each other, stumbling a little too close for comfort to the band’s expensive equipment. Adorable pixie keyboardist Justine ducked for cover, and when the two jesters finally fled from the stage, they knocked into lead singer Bret Haupt’s guitar, earning a glare so smoldering I though lasers were going to shoot from his eyes and evaporate the offending parties.
Then, not 10 minutes later, another burly would-be comedian mounted the stage to do an impromptu pole dance. Justine, now pissed off, bared her teeth, darted out from behind her keyboards and balls-on shoved the guy off the stage, with the women in the audience cheering her on.
But wait, it gets better: two individuals who identified themselves as Scott Lex and Meathead Jacobs (I can only imagine the brutal teasing he received in school; parents can be so clueless when naming their children) curiously decked in baby tees, mistook the concert for a WWF night and proceeded to engage in a cartoonish wrestling match right in front of the stage during the Killbillys set.
The band remained unfazed and continued though their phenomenal cow-punk set, only pausing to comment “What are you, a bunch of wrasslin’, redneck, white-trash motherfuckers? That’s just the way we like it!”
Yee haw!Sarah Klein writes here every other week. Got gossip, insider info, outrageous cries for publicity? Write [email protected], or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial