Movement Electronic Music Festival is the quintessential city festival, because it involves and embraces Detroit and its rich music culture. With a stage dedicated entirely to Detroit DJs, and Detroit natives Richie Hawtin and Claude VonStroke headlining, no other festival lineup better represents the city where it’s located than Movement. And after the music ends in Hart Plaza, it begins everywhere else in Detroit. Movement afterparties are unlike any other festival. After Lollapalooza, you’ll drop $45 to see one of the festival headliners you probably just saw mere hours ago, and get kicked to the curb by 3 in the morning when the club shuts down. After Movement, the afterparty lineups are diverse, inexpensive, and go until the sun comes up.
One of the greatest things about Movement is the diversity of its individual stage lineups. With no major headliners, and acts from all different spectrums of electronic music, each stage had its own crowd and character, and no stage got overwhelmingly crowded at any point during the festival. We traveled down to Movement with no plan, just our passes and a sense of adventure. Here’s what we saw all over the festival and the city on Memorial Day Weekend.
Moog Stage was our first stop on Saturday, and our hangout spot throughout the weekend. As the only stage with plenty of trees and grass, it was the best spot to relax and escape the sun. As the stage with the most stereotypical EDM festival artists, it was also the best place to people watch. It was here that I watched Riff Raff and Action Bronson put on energetic and surprisingly well-attended hip-hop sets. I made my favorite musical discovery here in Tourist, who put on an amazing set at 3 in the afternoon on Monday, when most people there were just napping in the grass. The crowd and lineup at Moog was the closest thing you’ll find to a standard EDM festival at Movement. Between the hoopers, the candy-kids, and the people who just wanted to lay in the grass regardless of who was playing, I met a lot of people I’ll probably be seeing again at Electric Forest. It was here almost every night that I said fuck it, put my camera away, and raged to the likes of Baauer, DJ Snake, and Flosstradamus, where Danny Brown made an amazing guest appearance.
At Movement, the music rarely stops, but over by the river, it literally never stopped. Beatport’s stage was set up so that while one artist was playing, the next performer could set up their equipment, allowing for seamless transitions between sets. It’s easy to get lost in the music at Beatport, and it wasn’t surprising that over the weekend I saw the same people atop the pyramid and in the crowd all day and all night. Beatport was for the most dedicated of dancers, both in the crowd, and just outside of Hart Plaza, where the ticketless could still dance the night away next to the river. It was here that I saw Green Velvet back-to-back with Claude VonStroke. It was here that I saw UK legends Skream and Pete Tong throw down incredible sets in the Monday afternoon heat. And it was here that J Philip filled in last-second for Boyz Noise and absolutely killed it.
I’m not going to lie, I barely saw anything at the underground stage. It was humid, and it was loud. Like, really loud. This is coming from the guy who once braved an entire Bassnectar at the very front. I felt the bass through every pore of my body. My hair stood up. My brain scrambled. I didn’t bring earplugs, like an idiot, so I didn’t last long amongst the sweaty throngs down under, but they all seemed to be having the time of their lives, so dance on.
I spent less time at the main stage than any other, which says a lot about the depth of Movement’s incredible lineup. But the music I did see at Red Bull blew me away. After completely ignoring the stage on Saturday, I settled down Sunday night for John Digweed and Richie Hawtin. And by settled down, I mean I danced my ass off to Digweed, danced what little of my ass was left to Richie Hawtin, and then ran over to Moog to finish off the evening with Baauer (I love the kid, I can’t help it). It was here at Red Bull that I closed out Movement in the grassy knoll with great friends, beautiful people, huge sparklers, and Carl Cox’s booming beats.
Made in Detroit
For the stage with least recognizable names on the lineup, it packed the most punch. The crowd at Made in Detroit was what every festival crowd should be: Diverse, energetic, and completely into the music, no matter who was playing. From the kids throwing down in a dance circle on the nearby sculpture, to the old-school attendees who have been dancing in Detroit since before those kids were born, Made in Detroit had a dedicated crowd the entire weekend. On a ridiculously stacked Sunday, we kept coming back to Kevin Saunderson’s Origins lineup at the Detroit stage, and were never let down.
For as much time as I spent at the various stages around the festival, I spent almost as much time at the afterparties. From impromptu dance parties in our motel hallway to impromptu dance parties in a dirt parking lot, to actual dance parties at TV Lounge and The Works, the music never stopped in Detroit. On Saturday night we danced to the music outside TV Lounge with plenty of other revelers, some just out to smoke, and some like us, who tried to get in for free, failed, and realized the music was just as fun from the sidewalk. We picked up some friends and headed to The Works, where we blasted music out of the car and danced in the parking lot until some kind strangers who were done for the evening graced us with their wristbands. Once inside, we danced the night away in a giant room completely covered in crazy lights. It was easy to get lost in the music, and by the time we stumbled back onto the streets of Detroit, the sun was peeking over the skyline.
On Sunday night we packed into a courtesy van with friends and strangers, and ended up at our friends’ hotel. The hotel was reminiscent of a festival campsite, with hoopers in the hallways and strangers sharing beers while smoking out of the hallway windows, music blasting out of every doorway. Eventually we hit the town, and once again ended up in The Works parking lot until more wristbands magically appeared (Sorry, The Works. We were broke.) Everyone go to The Works and spend money to make up for us. After hours of dancing, drinking, and chain-smoking, we once again caught the Detroit sunrise. We closed out the night, which by this point was actually morning, back at our friends’ hotel room, where ten of us fell asleep in various states of disarray throughout the night.
Overall, Movement continues to be a standout electronic music festival amongst the cookie-cutter EDM lineups popping up all over the country. I don’t have anything bad to say about the EDM giants who seem to be on every single lineup, but the problem with these festivals is that you can go to one, and you’ve basically gone to them all. There’s nothing like the lineup at Movement. There’s nothing like the crowd at Movement. And there’s nothing like the city of Detroit during the festival. If you missed out on Movement this year, you missed out on a lot of artists, people, and experiences you won’t get to see for quite a while. Don’t fuck it up next year. Get your ass to Hart Plaza next Memorial Day. And if you were at Movement this year, I don’t need to tell you anything. You already know you’ll be back.