Crisp and thunderous live sound assaulted thousands of fans at Hart Plaza's Main Stage, around its concrete bleachers and back toward the Noguchi Fountain, along the grassy fringes of the bowl. As a cylindrical plume of lights flickered, triggered and synced via Ableton software and touch-mixing hardware by Derivative, Richie Hawtin controlled it all from within what looked liked a giant synthetic tube. You could see him wiggling in there, but only just, depending on the intensity of light, moving his hands from multiple MacBook Pro keyboards to controllers to mixers.
He played Plastikman's greatest "hits" from a catalog that stretches nearly 20 years (OK, 17 years) in the minimal underground -- essentially creating and building it as he went along on Sheet One, Musik, Consumed and Closer, records that were speedily reinterpreted on Saturday. It was fast and furious, little room for ambient, beatless moments that I thought Hawtin might use to stitch his complex material together. Instead, he just went for it and nailed it at every harsh turn of his unconscious, going wherever Plastikman (very trim and fit, by the way, as Hawtin approaches his 40th birthday this week) would lead him. He killed it, in other words, leaving the audience made up of new ravers, old ravers, ex-ravers, sexy hangers-on, Windsor-Detroit friends and family stunned by modernity (version 1993-2010) and begging for more.