Growing up, I always thought of the year 2001 as the future. I believed we’d be wearing space suits or have flying cars or other things would happen that seemed impossible. Yet something else entirely incredible is happening: Detroit is having a second year of the Memorial Day three-day bash, the Focus://Detroit.Electronic.Music.Festival/2001. (Consumer alert: That’s the name, not a URL.) This is one of the world’s best electronic music festivals and without contest the world’s best free festival. This year things look to be just about the same. Except for the lineup. And the name. Corporate sponsors make great free festivals like this possible, often by grafting their name onto an existing event. It’s no surprise it got such a large sponsor (Ford Focus) after such a huge turnout last year.
With an obsession for never letting anything be the same twice, Carl Craig composed the lineup with no repeating acts, save one notable and permissible exception: Derrick May closing out the festival on the main stage. With the attitude of presenting the DEMF with the diversity that Detroit radio had in the ’80s, the lineup is incredibly well-rounded, representing much (but not all) of what is great and current in electronic music. Of course, there are notable omissions: Rob Hood, UR, Blake Baxter, many notable new local techno labels, and more Chicago heroes such as Larry Heard and Lil Louis. But with big names performing alongside newcomers, the festival seems poised to bring new generations into this music. See the complete schedule, including times, at www.electronicmusicfest.com.
The Main Stage has a varied but powerful lineup. Highlights include: Inner City performing “Good Life” and “Big Fun” before Derrick May closes the festival; London’s Kirk Degiorgio; Chicago’s Tortoise; Berlin’s Jazzanova collective; turntablists Kid Koala and Mixmaster Mike; De La Soul, John Acquaviva, Laurent Garnier (live) and Francisco Mora’s Outerzone Band.
Saturday’s Underground Stage has some of the world’s most exciting and interesting electronic music in a more nightclubby environment (with much more solid sound). Performers include Manchester’s Autechre; San Francisco’s Kit Clayton; founder of London’s Mute records Daniel Miller (yeah, the “Warm Leatherette” guy who found Depeche Mode, etc.) doing a loop-based DJ set with the head of Novamute, Seth Hodder; Kalamazoo-Munich’s Jay Denham closes on Saturday. Sunday looks promising as well, with Maersk, Ibex, Columbus’ Todd Sines and Titonton, with live shows from Shake and Strand, and Twonz closing it out. Featured Monday are Perspects and DJ Digital.
Strong house stage including newcomer Patrick Russell and Detroit house veterans such as Alton Miller and Rick Wilhite; some of the nation’s best house DJs such as Mark Farina and Glenn Underground. The French are represented by Versatiles’ Gilb’r and I:Cube.
The DEMF Riverfront Stage
The DEMF Riverfront Stage switches focus from day to day, with Saturday featuring the Kooky Scientist, Christian Vogel, Kelli Hand and the original unsung hero of Detroit techno, the Suburban Knight. Other days feature Don Q, Binary Star and LTJ Bukem.
As the DEMF fast becomes the world’s meeting place for electronic music lovers, the number of people coming will certainly increase. Expect way more afterparties, changing Detroit’s night landscape via multiple interesting musical options per night. Already promised is the Planet E 10-year anniversary party on Sunday night (maybe Carl Craig will perform there). On Saturday, Motormouth and Technology will team up for a party featuring Dan Bell and Claude Young back in the 7th City, and rumor has it that Drexciya will make its live debut alongside Dopplereffekt and Ultradyne. Expect many more to be announced and chronicled here.E-mail Pitch’d at firstname.lastname@example.org