Paxahau has been at the helm of promoting, organizing, and producing some of Detroit's biggest electronic dance music events for 17 years now, and they plan to celebrate their long-running success with what they do best — a massive party. This year's show is looking to be one of the biggest anniversary celebrations yet. TV Lounge, one of the promoters' go-to venues, will host the event and feature two outdoor stages complete with heavy-duty lighting and sound equipment, as well as a killer lineup.
Paxahau has invited Chicago/San Francisco based J. Phlip and Detroit native Daniel Bell to headline the party on the main stage. You may know J. Phlip from Claude VonStroke's San Francisco house label, Dirtybird, who signed Phlip after getting ahold of her first single, "Rumble Rumble," at the 2008 Winter Music Conference. The label seems to be a perfect match for Phlip, whose recent tracks expand on Dirtybird's signature sound, a bass-heavy blend of house and hip-hop. And despite preconceptions based on the fact that she is the label's only female artist, Phlip's tracks have a grittiness that verges on vulgar, and recall the raw appeal of DJ Assault's ghettotech and the funkiness of ATliens-era Outkast. Her live style is also a little unexpected, often drawing the crowd in slowly and then letting loose in all kinds of directions, from booty-house to UK funky. Phlip's memorable performance closing out the Beatport stage at last year's Movement is a big reason Paxahau chose her to headline their anniversary. Though she DJs in several different formats, we're hoping J. Phlip will bring it at Pax 17 with the old-school combo of vinyl and her weapon of choice, the Technics 1200.
In perfect contrast to J. Phlip, techno legend Daniel Bell, formerly DBX, will deliver minimalist house grooves accented by his signature "blips" and "bleeps." His sound is a singular blend of deep house and the repetitive structures and loops of avant-garde composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass. His live sets are atmospheric at times, and at other times funky with Detroit swagger. Either way, "less is more," for Bell, who is partial to the warmer sounds and simplicity of vinyl. He always lugs a piece of his huge record collection to every gig, and sometimes even incorporates CDs, analog synths, and drum machines into his set.
In the past, Paxahau's anniversary parties have typically featured about two to three artists, but this year, according to Director of Operations Sam Fotias, "we wanted to have some fun and do something special outdoors by expanding the lineup and adding another stage." DJ and producer Mike Huckaby, another major name in the Detroit electronic scene, will headline the second stage with support from Detroit-based underground favorites Pontchartrain, Ryan McCray, and Joe Gize.
Huckaby was once a part-owner of the beloved Record Time music store in the '90s and has always been an active figure in the music community, spending much of his time as an educator delivering lectures on synthesis, sound design, production software, and music theory at various "camps" around the world. He's a humble, under the radar type, letting his body of work speak for itself, having remixed tracks for the likes of Juan Atkins and Deepchord, as well as German artists LoSoul, Pacou, and Loco Dice. His prolific work as a music theorist and producer culminated in the 2011 release The Mike Huckaby Reel-To-Reel Edits Vol. 1, in which Huckaby reinterprets the spiritual jazz of avant-garde composer Sun Ra, with reel-to-reel edits of "UFO" and "The Antique Blacks." His live set at Pax 17 will round out the diverse lineup with his jazz rooted blend of deep house and techno.
From small beginnings as an all-volunteer run organization inspired by the second wave of techno in the mid-'90s, Paxahau now produces and promotes between 40 and 50 shows throughout the year, not including the annual Detroit Jazz Festival and the biannual Detroit Restaurant Week. But perhaps their biggest reason to celebrate 17 years is the ever-growing success of their best-known and most treasured project, Movement Detroit. The internationally renowned EDM festival, which happens every year on Memorial Day weekend, achieved a record attendance this year of over 111,000 people and over 110 artists across six stages. It's a feat they consider a victory for Detroit, and the deserved result of Paxahau's effort to constantly plan improvements well in advance. Movement 2016 plans are already in play, as well as the addition of two dozen shows to the fall/winter 2015 calendar, almost double the amount from years past.
Starts at 9 p.m.; 2548 Grand River Ave., Detroit; paxahau.com; presale tickets are $14; general admission is $17; 21 and older.