Summer '09 may best be remembered as the one that arrived anti-fashionably late. After the Movement Festival's impressive Memorial Day weekend intro to the season of sweat, a nuclear wintry chill descended upon the creative electronic dance scene in this post-Motor City. The hangover of global recessionary times, as well as the continuing exodus of local talent, hasn't helped. In this new new age of ever-present digital media, music communities are still forming and proliferating ... but then bunkering down into the safety (and comparative) boredom of virtual space. They are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And then they disappear, like fireflies on a humid August night, almost as if they were never there.
But we know it's the contained physical space that's crucial to the sustainability of regional dance music culture — something (at the risk of sounding quaint) that's real. The human body is the battery that makes the whole machinery go. ... And Detroit, in case you've forgotten, is intuitively plugged into this cyclic truth. We are filthy, tactile creatures and, as a rule, love to shove the sub-bass into your motherfucking face. It's been passed down (genetically and environmentally) over generations: People who bump people — and bump them hard — are the luckiest people in the world. Serious blasts of good times come as naturally to us as cheese and milk to a Wisconsin farmer. And for all you kids reading this on your smart mobile devices, this then is an invitation to turn off the lights and gadgets and step into the dark where the bodies are.
For your pleasure, in our present state
And so now, just in time for the end of the summer that wasn't, some nice parties are lining up for your listening and dancing pleasure. Talent is emerging. The temperature is rising. Bodies are squirming up close to DJ booths, much like space moths to lights of artificial suns. And the sonic plastic arts are starting to feel mighty real again. Out of the blurry, bleary-eyed nowhere, things are charging back, just like we always knew they would.
The biggest and best techno club event since Movement comes straight at you this weekend, courtesy of some promotional and programming teamwork by Detek, Maximal and Proper | Modulation. The local crews have put together a solid lineup of almost 20 artists on two stages — both indoors and out — over a 16-hour marathon showcase.
The party is headed by Tim Green, a 24-year-old London-based producer. In the rave underworld, names and affiliations mean everything, and Green has plenty of both, as well as — most importantly — talent to spare. He's released tracks for the Bristol-based techno-dubstep hybrid label Caravan — including a sweet re-work of his clubby smash "Feign" by German ambient-house producer Markus Guentner — on Cologne's famed Trapez, as well as on Claude VonStroke's San Francisco-based Dirtybird label. His productions have found their way into sets by native Windsorite Richie Hawtin, as well as Sven Vath, Carl Cox, Loco Dice, Damian Lazarus, Laurent Garnier and MANDY. In other words, Green's a rising star on the underground superclub circuit that includes joints like London's Fabric, Cocoon in Frankfurt and Berlin's Watergate.
Co-headlining is Agnès, a Swiss artist (Agnès is a "he," by the way) who runs the Geneva-based Sthlmaudio Recordings and has released minimal dub-tech tracks on Einmaleins Musik, Perspectiv, Mental Groove and, most memorably, collaborated with countrymen (Raphaël) Ripperton on the Zeitgeist EP, one of the best three-sided releases of 2006.
Also appearing: Monty Luke (Mothership/Planet E), a San Francisco-to-Detroit transplant (and a Metro Times contributor and blogger during this year's Movement '09), along with fellow Detroiters Patrick Russell, Drew Pompa, Aran Daniels, Eric Johnston and Vinnie, among others. The whole shebang hits Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Magic Stick (as well as on its recently refurbished Alley Deck), 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit, and runs from noon Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday; $10. The show must go on, rain or shine. That's the kind of devotion we're talking about.
If spending 16 hours at one address isn't enough, then we suggest you bounce back and forth between Midtown and the Russell Industrial Center, where the People's Arts Festival offers two days of crafts, fashion, film, food, music ... and bodies in motion, thanks to a lineup of experienced local electronic performers.
Kevin Reynolds' set at this year's Movement was a festival highlight. You can see him do it again live this Saturday. Also on the bill: Andy Toth, Punisher, :Brownstudy, Dial 81, Kero, Vacuum and E-Spleece — all performing live. We like it already! Plus, it's free. Also this Saturday, Aug. 29, from 3 p.m. to midnight. Even more music on Sunday is to be announced. Inside Building 4 at the Russell Industrial Center, 1600 Clay St., Detroit.
Since the early '00s, Ryan Elliott has been one of the Detroit scene's busiest DJs. He co-hosted a three-year Tuesday night at Ann Arbor's Goodnite Gracie's with friend and Ghostly International/Spectral Sounds colleague Matthew Dear; was an Untitled resident at the Shelter (in rotation with Tadd Mullinix, Derek Plaslaiko, Mike Servito and Dear); has hosted Vault at Oslo; and had played at Movement several times, including the most recent festival.
He has also toured the world many times over, while championing the virtues of the "DJ's DJ" — strictly an unapologetic selector and blender of other people's productions evolving into his own virtuosic sets. Although he's been living in Dearborn and working by day as a Ford Motor finance man, Elliott has decided to uproot to Berlin. Shed no tears for another comrade in crazy rhythms flying the local coop for the German capital, though. That's techno. The propulsive Detroit spirit inside Elliott and other ex-pats (Seth Troxler, Shaun Reeves, Claude Young) stays indelible, no matter their base. Let's send him off in style on Sunday, Sept. 6, at the TV Bar, 2554 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Elliott will play a 14-hour set (you read that right!), beginning at noon. He's playing outdoors; more DJs set up inside. It's $5 before 5 p.m., $10 before 10 p.m. and $15 after. Godspeed, Ryan.Much like Will Rogers, music critic Walter Wasacz has never met a techno talent he doesn't like. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org