Every Memorial Day weekend in Detroit for the past four years, a marathon takes place. But unlike, say, the Boston Marathon, the Detroit Marathon is extremely blissful and unhealthy. It starts on the Friday night before the electronic music fest — although the truly hardcore and/or jobless start on Thursday — and carries on into sunrise on Tuesday morning.
As anyone who’s ever made it to Tuesday morn (buzz intact and with at least 2 dollars in their wallet) will tell you, the delirium and self-diluted sense of accomplishment experienced in this glorious moment are well worth the years of training that it takes to get to such a highly competitive level of wastoid athletics. Sure, it would help if there were old ladies holding out Dixie cups of Gatorade as you run from one dimly lit, overpacked joint to the next, but preparation is what separates the pro from the amateur in this situation.
7th City, CPM, and Color present: Green Light Go!!
Agave, 4265 Woodward Ave., Detroit
Turns out that Claude Young isn’t playing the festival after all. Whether he was ever properly confirmed or not is certainly cause for speculation, but at least we know he’ll be playing at this one with 7th City labelmates Daniel Bell, Shake, Cabanne, Shawn Rudiman, Jeff Samuel and John Tejada. Young hasn’t been here in about five years or so, so this is a very big deal for anyone who knows what techno turntablism is all about. Don’t miss Shake and Bell, either. Expect some of the best records of the whole weekend to be dropped here.
The Works, 1846 Michigan Ave., Detroit
For those who don’t know, the small Detroit neighborhood of Woodbridge has its own sound. Soulful broken beats and complex, Motown-steeped melodies are what it’s all about. Returning home from New Zealand seclusion, Recloose leads the way at this party with John Arnold, Ayro, Syzmanski, Brownstudy, Kevin Reynolds, John Stoll, Miguel Angel, Mike Scarmadella and more.
Ghostly International presents: The Three Fates
The Masonic Temple Crystal Ballroom, 500 Temple Ave., Detroit
Some people might say that Ghostly International’s Sam Valenti is out of his freaking mind for booking the Crystal Ballroom for this, or any, show. Oh, well … the guy’s label is putting out a full-length a month, so he must know something that the rest of us don’t. Let’s hope that nobody breathes on this place wrong, let alone lights a cigarette. Catch Alter Ego in a debut U.S. performance with Geoff White (whose forthcoming album as Aeroc is something to look forward to), Matthew Dear, Midwest Product, Osborn and Ryan Elliott.
Soft Curls Presents: Coming Alive
Oslo, 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit
He’s never played the festival itself, but he’s still one of the best. Rob Hood, who was recently added to the lineup for this party, is one of the pioneers of minimal techno. It’s weird that both Rob Hood and Claude Young are playing on the eve of the festival and yet they won’t be at Hart Plaza. No big deal, though. With Legowelt and Perspects sharing the bill, this should be one of the better showcases of blistering, nocturnal dance floor raunchiness.
Paxahau Presents: Yel 2
St. Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit
Without question, this is the biggest party of the weekend in terms of size and scope. Taking over all three floors of St. Andrew’s, Paxahau brings back Speedy J for an encore of last year’s Yel party. This time, he’ll be accompanied by Chris Liebing, and Biosphere. Monolake plays virtual live set from Germany (yes, really). Deadbeat, Mathew Jonson, Matthew Dear, Derek Plaslaiko, Ryan Elliott, and Mike Servito round this out into one massive throw-down. Get your after-after-party plans straight because the St. Andrew’s bouncers won’t hesitate to throw your ass out on the street at 2:15 in the morning.
DJ Assault, Disco D, Godfather and Don Q will be in the house. Good on the Movement people for doing an “official” after-party with ONLY booty/ghettotech DJs. The Electric Violence VJs will be around to add more of a visual element — as if there’s anything hard to visualize about ass ’n’ titties.
The Cannonball is almost not worth writing about. If you’ve ever been to one, you’re going to this — it’s far and away the most cultish party happening festival weekend. BMG of Ectomorph does a special performance with Sal Principato of Liquid Liquid. Carlos Souffront and special guests will also be in attendance. If you can get in, do yourself a favor and stay. If you get sick of the party, stay anyway. The Cannonball is all about triumph through sweat, beer and speaker sleaze. Traxx headlines, and if he isn’t your favorite DJ, he will be by the end of Cannonball. He’s already won the past two years in a row.
Tronic Treatment and Seismic present: Tronic 2
The Works, 1846 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Good Gawd, y’all! There’s a whole freaking truckload of DJs playing this event, including Christian Smith, Misstress Barbara, Deetron, Tobias Von Hofstein, Adam Jay, Cosmic Spore, and, like, 10 others. If you like pound-your-head-in techno, you know better than to miss out on a Tronic Treatment party.
Friction presents: Substance: Detroit
2130 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Seeing Dan Bell once in a weekend isn’t enough? You’re damn right it’s not. Check him out with Murat, Ben Sims, Kill Memory Crash, DJ Slip, Adam X, Twonz, Mayuri, Kero, and, again, about 10 other DJs. This will be a pretty unusual party, as it goes down in three conjoined, newly remodeled-yet-unfinished storefronts in a soon-to-be revitalized part of Corktown. If you don’t want another stale club environment, you should absolutely check this out.
FLOW: a celebration of female talent
Foran’s Irish Pub, 612 Woodward Ave., Detroit
Kelli Hand is back in town to rock Detroit’s favorite all-female DJ night. Look out for Minx and Lady D as well. So the bad news is that after keeping it testosterone-free for the ’03, Flow hasn’t happened monthly since February. The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily mean that our lovely host, Jan D, is pregnant.
Encore is officially the official closing party for Detroit’s only official electronic music festival. (Sorry for officially killing that word, but it’s got to go. These are just parties. Why do they have to be stamped for authenticity?) Kevin Saunderson hosts the annual closeout party with Kenny Larkin, Ron Trent, D. Wynn and Herdest Cummings. (Official bathroom attendant TBA.)
Underground Resistance presents: For Those Who Know III
Detroit Summer Youth Space, 3611 Cass, Detroit
The reclusive and inimitable “Mad” Mike Banks is playing — out in public, no less — at this benefit party with Timeline. Expect Banks to play keyboards over a DJ set. Underground Resistance mainstays Rolondo, Buzz Goree and James Pennington are on deck to help raise money for the Detroit Summer Youth Space. If you’re gonna rave, you might as well do it for the kids. Besides, giving money to a good cause to see some rare entertainment is the perfect way to cleanse yourself of all of the dirty things you’ve gotten into all weekend.