Sure, that works. People, mostly strange people, make this festival what it is. And all around you see every variation of fun you can imagine, even if some of it is willfully dumber than words can describe. The music is the bond, the on switch, the mood elevator, the accelerator pedal. It's the music that sets the scene (Uh, another Love reference? What's got into me? I promise not to try to put "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This" into some sort of context. Not today, anyway), but it's the people that act it all out, like a huge, messy improvisational hallucinatory circus with bodies in blurry motion: dancing in front of stages, splashing in the Noguchi Fountain, shuffling around the concrete wearing angel wings or booty-choking hot pants and furry boots, twirling glowsticks in the big bowl, etc. etc.
It's a weird little universe. Oh, yes. But oddly welcoming. Some shirtless guy will walk up to you, give you a hug and say he's not seen you since ... whenever it was, man, and walk away into the rainbow mist cascading from the fountain. You're sure you've never scene this person before, likely never will again. Or maybe he will bump into you again at the intersection of sound waves at the Beatport or Red Bull Academy stages. Or at some grimy party between the hours of 5 and 6 a.m.
Each year, the first day of the festival seems to start slowly, with people rolling in late after staying up for the increasing number of pre-parties the night before. It seemed more came early this time, maybe because I was there at 9 a.m. soundchecking with my nospectacle digital bandmates. Worker bees and managers were everywhere, and they were solid and professional. Everyone was in work mode and apparently happily so. If you have to work on Memorial Day weekend, what better place to be, especially with the long awaited arrival of sunshine and temps approaching 70, then here?
We opened the Main Stage, and it was wonderful fun. In homage to the kind of artists we believe are real geniuses of innovative techno production, we played music by Porter Ricks, Jan Jelinek and Frank Bretschneider, and featured the original audio and video work of nospectacle's Chris McNamara. We couldn't have been happier with the way it turned out.
Deepchord presents Echospace immediately followed. No lag time here, everything moving along on a tight schedule. We had to scoot off to do a silly interview and put our gear away, but we did hear most of the group's live set. They rocked from the start, in a rather painterly fashion, drawing swirls of sound that went deep and elevated simultaneously, not as easy as you might think. The group's music has a rough texture, filled with dirty, crackling introductions and complex bass-heavy jamming that keeps the sonic information pounding away at your mid section ... and lower. That's how I love it.
The only buzz kill of a near-perfect day came when we went back to my car once again to get a change of clothes. The car was gone, ticketed by the police and towed to a yard at Russell near I-94 (across the street from the incredibly sick-smelly incinerator complex). The police were nice about it, blamed the crush of techno and Red Wings fans (arriving for the Stanley Cup Finals opener at Joe Louis next door), and the towing guy, Bobby, and I bonded over the experience so well we almost hugged in his office trailer. We didn't. He asked for $75, I gave it to him and we went home. Oh, damn, oh, well. Some kinda love lingered on after the smell of burning garbage began to disappear. Not exactly the happy ending I was looking for, but there it is.