Good Vibrations

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A half-day steady rain is coming to a halt as I start to write, while one of the loudest parties on Earth rolls to its conclusion. Rain only brightens a young raver's heart, especially if you were wearing water repellent-clothing or burned up the previous two sunny days inside fake fur, feathers and leather festival gear.

I'm home, where I belong, tired but happy, going through over 300 pictures and fresh memories of Movement 2010, which will go down as one of the best of the series for many reasons. It may have been the most successful in diversifying its dance card since the surreal DEMF in 2001, the year Carl Craig was fired just weeks before what still stands as the most eclectic lineup in the festival's 11 years. Talent then included Tortoise, Jazzanova, Laurent Garnier, De La Soul and Francisco Mora's Outerzone Band. It also featured a live performance by Inner City, and DJ sets by Kirk DeGiorgio, Derrick May and Rick Wilhite, as did this year's.

Craig was back as artistic director and made his presence felt with headliners that included Juan Atkins' Model 500 (whose Star Trek Next Generation outfits produced almost instantaneous and steady chatter on Twitter), Kevin Saunderson's Inner City and one of the few stops on Richie Hawtin's Plastikman tour (see the story below).

But as important was the return of Berliners Scion and Mark Ernestus, who played unmixed (as is his custom) Rhythm & Sound and related new and old dubs. Watching Ernestus, who performed arguably the festival's hottest, most emotive set while remaining largely expressionless wearing a T-Shirt that said "Playing it Cool" -- from the classic 1981 six-track LP Playing it Cool, Playing it Right by the late Keith Hudson -- I was struck by how content can still remain crucial in a genre increasingly taken over by trendy stylists above artists of real substance.

Ernestus led a host of others who prefer to go deep and then deeper: Theo Parrish, Anthony "Shake" Shakir, Recloose, Larry Heard and Martyn, who proved himself worthy of the steady hype he's received the last two years. He's got real soul, and is versatile enough to play from the heart in almost any style that requires bombing a track with bass. Martyn whipped the Red Bull Academy Stage crowd into an undulating lather by just being plain good in all the right ways.

Istanbul's Onur Ozer, Cassy and Claude Von Stroke rocked the Beatport Stage, as did Hawtin, who filled in for the visa-deprived Ricardo Villalobos, who was rumored to be at the festival anyway according to tweets I was following. That was never confirmed. And he never came over to my place to see the new garden, either. So I don't think so, kids.

Another on-site highlight was the Beehive Project, a human-scale installation that declares the hive as a model for future Detroit community and resourcefulness. It was clean, green and integrated neatly into one of only a few patches of trees and grass at over-cemented Hart Plaza. Loved it.

For me, highlights of the festival that last extend beyond the grounds; yes, beyond the after-parties and even the music itself. The winner is Detroit's old-time urbanism, the impressive vertical granite canyons of downtown and its blend of 1920s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s high design architecture. There was a wow in every walk we took, from the riverfront to Grand Circus, up to Park Avenue for dinner at Cliff Bell's; over to Brush St. between Congress and E. Fort for more food at Jacoby's; up Broadway to Angelina's to meet friends from Amsterdam, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh and Detroit before going to the Music Hall and a program of films and a performance by Mike Banks and his band Timeline. Thanks to Planet E, and the Carl Craig and Detroit Techno Foundations for that beautiful idea.

This sustained buzz about the familiar is ultimately what it's all about for us who welcome and shepherd the visiting flock of techno tourists drawn to our powerful vibrations. As if otherwise blind to this truth, we once again see a city as dynamic as the music it produces, something we can't experience often enough.

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