Beats, bass, booty and buildings. That unlikely combo has worked for a run of great DJs who have rocked the Pure Detroit Stage during the annual 5-day TasteFest weekend. In recent summers, John Acquaviva, Carl Craig, Rich Hawtin, Derrick May, Terrance Parker, Clark Warner and others have bounced their music between the Fisher and New Center buildings, down Second Avenue from Lothrop Street reaching strolling diners on West Grand Boulevard. It's in-your-face urbanism as sweet sonic spectacle.
The city's best, biggest block party sports enough stellar electronic music to keep your ass jiggling in that near-perfect urban canyon until night falls on the Fourth of July.
There is something for nearly everyone on each night, beginning with a doubleheader on Thursday with Detroit party animals Dorkwave represented by DJs Michael Doyle, Jon Ozias, Mike Servito and Rob Theakston, known collectively as Les Infants Terribles and Solvent, an electro vet from Toronto who has put out a string of warm-tough, synth-pop releases on Ann Arbor's Ghostly International. One of the last times Solvent (aka Jason Amm) hit town, a who's who consisting of Ersatz Audio, Interdimensional Transmissions, Ghostly, Paxahau and Minus crews crammed a basement club in Windsor to witness his melodic man-machine-rock thang. Talk about crossover, Solvent's tune "Radio Ga Ga" is also a Dorkwave staple; and his Ghostly full-lengths, Apples and Synthesizers and Elevators and Oscillators are still hot sellers. Dorkwave gets it kicking at 6:30 p.m., with Solvent to follow at 8:30.
On Saturday, the hardworking Greg Mudge who holds it down at Foran's Pub, the Works and his day job slinging corned beef at Corktown's Eph McNally's Deli will hit at 7:30 p.m. Underground linchpin Mike Huckaby gets records spinning Sunday at 7:30 p.m, followed by Fuse-In head man Kevin Saunderson at 8:30 p.m. Huckaby has built a following made up of house purists and messy post-ravers who can appreciate the quiet giant's flair for playing the unplayable: Hip-hoppy acid-tech-house, anyone? Saunderson will have to be sharp to follow Huck, and the hunch here is he will. Sauderson should be in post-festival humor; which means he'll be ready to express it through his musical hybrids.
The best might be saved for last on July 4, when Detroit's East Side (yo, what up, Pershing High?) is represented by the Platinum Pied Pipers at 5 p.m., followed by ass-magnet Amp Fiddler at 6:30 p.m. Should Detroit need to be told again, here are two of the best groups making music anywhere in the country: The Pipers former Slum Villagers Waajeed and Saadiq roll out piquant, slow-sexy funk on their Triple P album, which features guests Jay Dee, Invincible, Steve Spacek and others. Amp Fiddler's Waltz of a Ghetto Fly was anointed an instant classic by Metro Times and others upon its 2004 release, and some dubbed its creator an overnight sensation silly considering that Joseph Fiddler's been keeping the soul-jazz hot-cool since his 1980s membership in various Parliament-Funkadelic projects.
The free TasteFest (West Grand Boulevard between Woodward Avenue and the Lodge Freeway, Detroit; 313-927-3115) runs Thursday, June 30, through Monday, July 4. The Pure Detroit stage is located at Second Avenue and Lothrop Street. Go to tastefest.com.Walter Wasacz is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]