It's a steamy summer Saturday in Detroit as Mixmag explores the layout of Movement Electronic Music Festival during its first day. We're fresh off a flight, a bit delirious, but anxious to experience the event that's been perpetually marked on our calendar every year during Memorial Day Weekend. Immediately we hear booming bass and rapid paced rhythms coming from the underground bunker, a stage nestled underneath the festival grounds that's home to the heavier essence of dance music. Helena Hauff just stepped on. It's 7 PM, way too early to give it our all on the dancefloor, but this music is too infectious to pass up. She's going straight into jams that are as fast as techno can possibly go in this dark and dungeon-like venue. The festival has just begun, we're sweating bullets and it's already off to the races.
For house and techno heads, those who distance themselves from the mainstream sounds that tend to be showcased at much of America's music festivals, Movement is like Christmas, it's like a yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, to Detroit the birthplace of techno. 2018 had plenty to satisfy the thirst for relentless rhythms and deep vibrations, with DJ Stingray, Nina Kraviz, Nastia, Avalon Emerson, Helena Hauff, Charlotte De Witte, Maceo Plex, Laurent Garnier, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson and headliners in Claude VonStroke, Loco Dice b2b The Martinez Brothers and a celebratory 25th anniversary performance from all nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan, there clearly was something for everyone.
That said, Mixmag found itself looking back on a collection of memorable moments that truly made this year's festival a wild party. Read on below to find out why Movement Electronic Music Festival was a nonstop rave in 2018...
Maceo Plex destroys the festival... and the afters
It's been a huge year for Maceo Plex. With the return of his Mariel Ito and Maetrik aliases, Estronel on the decks was much less of the classic sets we’ve grown used to and flipped into more experimental landscapes - something we’ve been patiently waiting for and the maestro did not disappoint.
Maceo’s first set of Detroit’s Memorial Day weekend came at the festival for a jam-packed closing set at Movement’s newly laid-out Pyramid Stage. Overlooking the Detroit River with cryptic, psychedelic visuals, the hour and a half performance was a thickening plot of breakbeat, electro and sharply placed twists of Maceo Plex hits.
The defining showcase arrived at the official Paxahau x Paradigm afterparty later that night at the Leland Hotel, where Estronel played an intense three-hour melé of more thrashing electro, spiking acid and textural breakbeat progression in the pitch-dark depths of a dripping 100 degree venue. Even below from the crowd, Plex’s high spirits were undeniable - bouncing back and forth, as energetic as ever, ready to test the Detroit crowd with new sounds and styles.
[Photo: Jacob Mulka]
Helena Hauff fires off in the underground bunker
Helena Hauff’s unique approach to electronic music is always worthy of witnessing when she pops up on a festival lineup, but getting a chance to catch her perform in the underground bunker stage at Movement was an absolute must. The dark and gritty concrete structure below the festival proved to be an ideal setting for her onslaught of heavy and rapidly paced rhythms. Her set time was early in the day as well and many of us didn’t think we’d be dancing that hard to techno upwards of 130 bpm at 6 PM after pulling an all-nighter at one of the various afterparties, but there’s no resisting Helena Hauff’s unceasing musical mix. From breakbeat and industrial to hypnotic and ethereal, the set had it all. Don’t ever miss seeing Helena, ever.
[Photo: Chris Soltis]
Laurent Garnier delivers high-octane techno
With such a strong lineup at Movement there were plenty of conflicts littered throughout the lineup, particularly the last set of each stage. This was particularly evident on day two when Nina Kraviz, Laurent Garnier, The Martinez Brothers b2b Loco Dice, Kevin Saunderson and Ø [Phase] were all at the decks at the same time. That being said, legendary Frenchman Laurent Garnier had only been in the states once in the past four years and deserved our undivided attention. He did not disappoint, delivering a high-octane techno set that touched on the essence of old-school rave culture with acidic, trancey and relentless sonic textures for a blissful two hours. His command of the crowd, using his wide power-stance behind the decks and vigorous head-bobs, was a marvel to behold and showcased why he’s a true master of dance music. He’s not slated to perform again in the states this year, so this was undoubtedly a special occurrence.
[Photo: Katie Laskowska]
Modeselektor make an epic Movement return
Throngs of people were dance-walking and ducking into the tree-lined area where the Red Bull Stage was hosted on Movement’s second day to catch Modeselektor’s set. Anticipation was high for the pair’s return following their 2016 performance at Movement, and undoubtedly, the buzzing energy of the crowd was reflected tenfold in the group’s electro-fueled performance. It was an appropriately explosive opening to their set with the rumblings of their latest release ‘Kalif Storch’ (Modeselektor’s first track in three years) and with lasers catching in the spread of branches above the audience, the Berlin duo were unstoppable.
[Photo: Stephen Bondio]
Delano Smith brings the vibes at Ok Cool
Movement weekend is known as much for the festival as it is for its stacked and riotous afterparties that continue well into the morning. The official afterparties are particularly noteworthy and each year one that is always on our radar is Ok Cool at the sprawling indoor and outdoor venue TV Lounge. This year the lineup featured Eats Everything, Ataxia, Eddie C, Ardalan and more, but the show was stolen by Detroit’s own Delano Smith who brought forth an array of soulful, jacking and tribal house that served as the soundtrack to keep our party legs moving. With just an intimate stage and the dark alleyway for a dancefloor. Tracks like ‘Hold Me Back’ (Paranoid London Remix) by Deep Space Orchestra, ‘Everyday’ by De La Swing and Dennis Ferrer’s ‘Transitions’ had us sweating well into the early hours of Monday morning.
The Martinez Brothers come together with Loco Dice for a special B2B
Movement Detroit is a time when every purist techno fan in America descends upon the city to celebrate the birthplace of techno. Attendees understand this, they respect this - and in return they expect the artists they come to see to bring the strictest curation of music and a tangible homage to the defining genre.
The Martinez Brothers and Loco Dice spared nothing for their main stage closing set on Day 2 of the festival, leaving behind their classic hyper sound we’ve grown to love and dove head-first into darker, warping sounds - twisting and palpating into blissful techno filled with shifting textures and depth. Bewildered by flashing production and top tunes bouncing off the night sky into the Detroit skyline - the crowd spun in a frenzy guided by the three illustrious figures on stage - seamlessly blending tracks from Max Cooper, Maetrik and St. Germain (to name a few).
[Photo: Stephen Bondio]
Mixmag arrives with Soul Clap for The Lab Detroit
The third day of a festival is always a struggle, and despite Detroit’s attempts to challenge even its most veteran ravers with searing temperatures on the holiday Monday of the weekend, we all caught a new wind thanks to The Lab Detroit with Soul Clap, which took place in a idyllic, shady corner in the VIP section of Movement. Taking place at the tail end of the peak afternoon heat, Soul Clap brought smile-on-your-face vibes with a two hour, all-vinyl, Detroit-homage set for this special Lab on Location. It was a fitting soundtrack for attendees just getting started with their festival day, and with the gleaming buildings of the Detroit skyline in the background, it was nearly impossible to resist getting up to groove.
The energy was ticked up a notch with the arrival of a Mixmag favorite, the lovingly-dubbed “Green Shirt Guy”, who made an unforgettable impression on our Lab on Location in Miami and returned once again with his pastel green shirt in tow to show off his stellar dance moves with Soul Clap.
[Photo: Bryan Mitchell / Paxahau]
Ellen Allien's vibrant sunset, waterfront set
A welcomed change for Movement Detroit this year was the festival’s decision to switch around the layout of its famed Pyramid stage, allowing attendees to face a gorgeous backdrop of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario across the water. On the final day of the festival, Ellen Allien and her bright, blonde bob appeared on the stage as she dropped into a searing mix of relentless techno with delightful hints of psytrance, staying true to her reputation as a genre-defying selector as the sun began to set behind the stage.
Any fan of Ellen’s knows that a DJ set serves as a simultaneous workout for her as well, and her stint at Movement was no exception. Throwing aside any concern about the thick humidity, the German talent was never without a smiling, playful expression on her face as she waved her arms and danced and swayed in tandem to the beat.
[Photo: Bryan Mitchell / Paxahau]
Omar-S reigns as a top selector at Where Are My Keys?
Omar-S in Detroit - it doesn’t get much better than that. If there was one standout set of the weekend, it was Omar closing Marble Bar at the famed Where Are My Keys party.
He’s renowned as a top selector and there is no question he was in full flex for his home city - he took risks, he paid homage to the classics, he danced on the borders of depth, soul and funk between the sleeves of his vinyl records - proposing to fans and newcomers alike to embark on a musical journey. Under the tip of his stylus, fluctuating beats, house anthems and instrumental riffs floated through, enshrouded the walls, ricocheted off a massive skull-shaped disco ball and zapped lightning into dancing feet! It was outstanding and unforgettable in too many ways.
Another major bonus? Getting ultra wavy in the crowd with our friends Seth Troxler, D;Julz and Scott Grooves all night long.
Nastia proves that the best is saved for last
Again, Movement’s lineup is so packed with quality talent that it’s best to show up early and leave late. Catching Nastia during the early portion of Sunday at 4 PM was a struggle to get to, but we’re so happy we did as her infectious energy behind the decks brought us back to life. It’s easy to see her passion for the music she plays is unparalleled, while she bobs and weaves and works her moves behind the decks, delivering an array of techno and breakbeat gems from the past and present. It was a beautiful sight looking out from the Pyramid structure at the cool water of the Detroit River flowing by.
[Photo: Anthony Rassam]
View a collection of crowd photos from the 2018 edition of Movement Electronic Music Festival below and we'll see you back in Detroit next year!
[Photos: Douglas Wojciechowski and Bryan Mitchell / Paxahau]