Here we are suffering through the middle of a cold, wet, gloomy Detroit winter counting off the days until spring (39, 38, 37 ...). We eagerly await new life to reinvigorate a scene chilled by a season that has often been worse indoors than the weather outdoors. Yes, club kids, it’s been that bad.
First, the news from the Movement front continues to look sketchy. According to Transmat Events Office Manager Lyndsay McGee, festival organizer Derrrick May will hold a press conference within the next two weeks to explain how planning for the annual Memorial Day weekend event is (or isn’t) proceeding. She said “information ... circulating around the world on the internet that Transmat has pulled out of planning the festival was just a letter (editor’s note: hmmm) and not an official press release.” We also learned that the other main Movement organizer, Kevin Saunderson, recently met with Lucius Vasser from the mayor’s office. The question on the table is whether the city will allow Movement to charge admission — an idea that we have supported since witnessing the embarrassing spectacle of May begging for cash from the main stage at last year's festival. We were told a decision from Detroit officials is imminent. One thing the city of Detroit does not want is for Movement to take off a year and plan its next party for 2006. We are staying tuned in. (In the meantime, check out the transoceanic chatter at technotourist.org and energylab.de.)
Juan, where art thou?
January was not a good month for Detroit Techno’s historic Belleville Three. Not only are May and Saunderson (the de facto honchos of whatever’s left of Movement) playing phone tag with the mayor’s office, their high school mentor, electro-innovator Juan Atkins, is playing “no show” instead of “No UFOs” at his scheduled gigs. Atkins was hired by Necto in Ann Arbor to deliver a Sunday residency with special guests. After Atkins failed to show up on Jan. 23 and Jan. 30, the residency was canceled. Atkins has a history of bailing on his commitments. We saw a renewed Atkins deliver an amazing set at Oslo last summer, then we were let down when he failed to show at the ArtServe Michigan Governor’s Awards gala in November to receive his International Achievement Award. Atkins has earned a dubious distinction as perhaps the most erratic performer on the global DJ stage. We know he’s heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Dude, get your shit together; you’re too good to blow it all away.
In happier news, the promotions team at Organic — which, along with Paxahau, had its combination house-techno party halted by Detroit Police on Jan. 15 — has rescheduled its event for this Saturday (Feb. 12) at St. Andrew’s Hall (431 E. Congress, Detroit; 313-961-MELT). As promised, New York’s Joe Claussell will headline with Organic resident DJs Mike Huckaby and Michael Geiger in support. Doors are at 9 p.m. (For more information, call 313-961-8137 or go to organicdetroit.com.)
Minx: Detroit’s first lady of wax
A regular day for Jennifer Witcher goes something like this: Wake up before dawn, get her 8-year-old ready for school, her 2-year-old to the babysitter, work till 4 p.m. at General Motors’ HQ downtown, pick up kids from school, cook dinner, make sure kids’ homework gets done, put kids to bed, maybe have time to give her husband a kiss. Then? Create some of the most sought-after interdisciplinary, minimal, funky, house music in Detroit. No, make that the entire world.
As DJ Minx, Witcher has paraded her skills at Detroit area clubs since the late ’80s. She has headlined at Motor and played Tresor in Berlin; she’s mixed live on radio stations including CJAM and WGPR. The graduate of Pershing High formed Women on Wax, an all-female DJ collective, in 1996. She helped build it into an underground house institution with artists like vocalist Diviniti and a fledgling DJ who was simply calling herself Magda. Minx recently rejoined the now Berlin-based Magda on Richie Hawtin’s Minus label, which released her blistering “Walk in the Park” EP in 2004.
You can see Minx at a Planned Parenthood benefit at Corktown Tavern (1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103) on Feb. 19. Her new 12”, “Fuzzy Navel,” is now out on Women on Wax, a label we like to call WOW.
Going to Hell?
Helmut Geier was a 15-year-old kid living in a sleepy Bavarian town just waiting for punk rock to happen. He hated hippies and they hated him. Why? Because the precocious little brat wanted to blast his Damned and Sex Pistols records into their eardrums and build his own raw, angry, fuck-u-all scene. By the time he was 16, he was a club DJ with his own weekend following.
Shortening his name to DJ Hell, he moved to Munich to work with computers and expand his musical vocabulary. In the 1980s, he absorbed rap, rare groove, UK electro and acid house, Chicago house and Detroit techno. He played it all. Friends and enemies began calling him the Munich Machine (itself a rip-off of a famed production project by Giorgio Moroder).
Now in his 40s, Hell is still blasting away at all the boundaries of dance music. His label, International DJ Gigolo, is known for juxtaposing images of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sid Vicious with big-busted, semi-nude women. It’s also known for releasing cranked-up, genre-bending club tracks that play by nobody’s rules. Hell: once a punk, always a punk. See him spin live at Oslo on Saturday Feb. 19. (Go to soft-curls.com).
Friday, Feb. 11: Soft-Curls presents DJ Dijital at Oslo (1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300).
Saturday, Feb. 12: Mike Clark and Reggie Dokes at Fi-nite Gallery (Cary Building Lofts, 229 Gratiot Ave., 5th Floor).
Thursday, Feb. 17: Women on Wax at Half Past Three (2548 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-965-4789).
Saturday, Feb. 19: Edwin Fabre and John Arnold at Fi-nite Gallery (Cary Building Lofts, 229 Gratiot Ave., 5th Floor).
Saturday, Feb. 19: Geoff Johnson, Revolt and The Nyhylist at Fifth Avenue (Comerica Park, 2100 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-2555).
Wednesday, Feb. 23: Broken Circuit feat. The Flashbulb at Foran’s (612 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-3043).The Subterraneans is a biweekly column devoted to Detroit dance culture. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org