Movement Electronic Music Festival 2018 officially kicks off on Saturday, May 26th at noon. PLAYGROUND DETROIT is highlighting both top emerging and legendary Detroit music acts hand-picked from the entire weekend line-up so you don’t have to worry where you need to be all weekend long. Here is part one of our three-part weekend hit list of Detroit-grown performances and more emerging talent from across the country.
Black Noi$e // 2:30PM-4PM [Red Bull Stage]
Whether it’s from his work with Bruiser Brigade, Detroit Lines, or his Red Bull Radio show with SKYWLKR, many listeners know Black Noi$e for his darkly infectious trap production. However, in the past year or so he’s been releasing different types of music, putting him somewhere between a notable hip hop inclusion and a deserving local electronic act in this year’s lineup. If you’ve seen one if his late night sets at Takoi, you know what I mean.
For the techno purists out there that might scoff at the ever-increasing rap presence at Movement, not so fast. With recent releases on Portage Garage Sounds and Vanity Press, Black Noi$e might prove to be a point of junction for two genres that can seem disparate, but are more connected than they initially seem. Who knows, the set may leave techno diehards converted.
Waajeed // 3:30PM-4:30PM [Star Gate Stage]
Detroit’s musical history is embodied by those that built it. While various individual threads have established, the inevitable interweaving that occurs in a modestly sized city with such massive energy and talent has produced some impressive feats of cross-disciplinary musicians. In any such conversation, Waajeed’s name is sure to come up.
As a part of a crew that eventually went on to form the legendary Slum Village, Waajeed’s proximity to some of the biggest moments in Detroit music is proof of his importance. His Bling 47 imprint, inspired by both Motown and Underground Resistance of all things, has featured some timeless cuts from J Dilla and others. His own music has ebbed and flowed throughout his influences, manifesting in new and different ways with each iteration. In his own words, “I think that’s a disservice to people, to not open themselves up to many things.”
Bevlove // 4:00PM-4:30PM [Red Bull Stage]
Bevlove’s energy is infectious; there’s a reason she’s been called Detroit’s Beyoncé. It’s a bit tenuous to rely on universally understood references that inevitably water-down the details, so if that isn’t enough, I’ll just say this: if you’re a Detroit music enthusiast, I’ll bet one of your friends has already recommended that catch one of her sets.
Her music is good, but her live performances are stunning. With production that includes delicate musicality and driving pulses of 808’s, and a vocal range that produces softly sensual notes and powerful rap lyrics within the same breath, this genre-defying talent from Detroit has a lot to offer. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.
Count Mack // 4:30PM-5:00PM [Red Bull Stage]
Count Mack, a.k.a. Vaughn Taormina, is a man of many talents. Running with the likes of Sheefy McFly and Nick Speed, he has already earned his place in Detroit music, appearing in Jenny Risher’s D-Cyphered recent exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Attendees may have previewed Mack at Movement last year during his performance with Sheefy McFly on the Red Bull Stage, but this year he takes center stage. Not only known for his music, his visual artwork is also a critical component of his creativity. He designed one of the Official Movement T-shirt designs, and his paintings are currently on view at the PLAYGROUND DETROIT gallery in a group exhibition, “Snacks.”
Taormina just released his latest animated music video, a much anticipated follow up animation to the 2011 cult video release, “Dope Sick- Freak Deak.” Though his musical presence online remains elusive, “Pills x 100” finds Mack laying nonchalant flows over a thick synth line reminiscent of Doughboyz Cashout’s Detroit version of West Coast style.
DJ Godfather // 5:00PM-6:00PM [Red Bull Stage]
Considered one of the founding fathers of ghettotech, DJ Godfather has made his stamp on the music world since he started DJing at the age of 15. Quickly climbing the local ranks and eventually becoming a producer, Godfather joined in Detroit’s long history of remix culture by fusing house music, Miami Bass, and UK garage to help forge the path to a new musical genre.
While he makes music under several aliases, his recent It’s On Again EP presents a solid breadth of his styles in only 3 songs, ranging from tech house to jit and beyond, released via his Databass records imprint. Seasoned Detroit electronic enthusiasts are likely to have a story or two about DJ Godfather’s notorious sets, and his inclusion is a nod to those longtime fans and a chance for new fans to get familiar.
Too $hort // 6:00PM-7:00PM [Red Bull Stage]
Though Movement’s lineup is internationally recognized in electronic music, it’s safe to say that your average music listener won’t be able to grasp the enormity of such an event if they’re not familiar with house or techno. For those people, a name like Too $hort might be a reason to go, hopefully exposing them to the larger festival and all that it represents for Detroit’s musical history.
The Oakland rapper requires little introduction. While his persona largely centers around the west-coast pimp aesthetic, songs like “The Ghetto” exemplify a deeper level of introspection. Being one of the few (and perhaps the only) rappers to have recorded with 2Pac, the Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z, his status as a hip hop legend lies uncontested. Anyone that considers themself a fan of the genre can’t miss the chance to catch a song or two, and there’s sure to be portions of the crowd that rejoice in the nostalgic sounds of their youth.
Solardo // 7:30PM-9:00PM [Movement Stage]
DJ Mag’s best duo of 2017 does not disappoint; last year saw them selling-out a massive headlining tour in the UK, and so far this year they’ve kept up the momentum with more strong performances and the creation of their radio show, “The Spot,” which has featured the likes of Claude VonStroke (who will headline the main stage the same day) and Nicole Moudaber, who is curating an after-party Monday night featuring Dubfire and Hito.
A few tracks from their Soundcloud are telling in comparison to one another: with “TODAYS NEWS,” the duo combines bouncy, rounded sounds with vocal samples that undulate between the comedic and the playfully unsettling. In contrast, their remix of Nicole Moudaber and Carl Cox’s “See You Next Tuesday” strikes a different tone, as they add hints of upbeat flare to an otherwise disciplined track. Regardless of which you prefer, a set that might include both is one worth attending.
Stacey Pullen // 7:30PM-9:00PM [Movement Stage]
Stacey Pullen’s music career spans far beyond the reach of a few paragraphs, but a shortlist of things worth mentioning will have to suffice. Growing up through the second wave of Detroit techno, guided by pioneers the likes of Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kevin Saunderson, Pullen’s musical has taken him from school band rooms to prestigious clubs all over the world. Learning from the best and continuously testing his own abilities, the renowned DJ and producer’s progression started early and hasn’t slowed down since.
Dubbed the Kosmik Messenger, Pullen’s dedication has earned him an unrivaled comfort behind the decks. Playing for hours on end with ease, his commanding performances at home and abroad have earned him spots at some of the world’s most reputable clubs. Most recently, his 2018 quarterly residency at TV Lounge has been a treat to his hometown fans, and his set at this year’s festival is sure to be a special one.
Carl Craig // 9:00PM-11:00PM [Star Gate Stage]
Headlining the stage he’s curating on the first day of the festival (as well as the Detroit Love party he’s throwing that night) is a power move from Carl Craig. Described as having a “resounding fascination with futurism,” Craig’s musical identity has transcended far beyond club music. From his early releases with longtime collaborator Derrick May and the formation of his own Planet E label, Carl Craig has since evolved into a force in electronic music through his courageous experimentation and unrelenting resolve.
Craig’s Versus Synthesizer Ensemble has provoked thoughtful reflections and enamored audiences around the world. Momentum, a collaborative project between Craig and the Argentinian live electronic collective Klauss, includes two elongated tracks filled with, “meditative loops and mind-bending sonic processes.” I saw him play for at least four hours to an intimate crowd at Motor City Wine a while back in what was perhaps the most satisfying night of that year’s after-party offerings. This is a set you won’t want to miss.
Claude VonStroke // 10:30PM-12:00AM [Movement Stage]
Claude VonStroke has become a staple in Detroit electronic music. His own musical range is impressive, with output that extends beyond his namesake to includeBarclay Crenshaw (whose set last year included a nod to a fellow Movement performer in the form of Danny Brown’s“Grown Up”) andGet Real, his collaborative project with the inimitableGreen Velvet.
If a DJ’s taste is a measure of their prowess, VonStroke’s Dirtybird label is further affirmation of his studied sonic preferences. The Dirtybird roster is set to make a strong showing at this year’s festival, including a Sunday evening offering from Eats Everything, as well as a sets from unofficial affiliates likeMija, who could be considered an honorary member.
For the record, it might be worthwhile to show up early for VonStroke’s headlining set on Saturday; labelmateJustin Martin will be manning the decks beforehand, giving agile attendees plenty of time to catch a piece of his 90-minute set without missing the other notable acts closing the first day of the festival.
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