Friday, May 25th: Spent the day @ Record Time Roseville. That place read like a “who’s who” of Detroit house. Bumped into all sorts of people. Dinner @ the new Parthenon was tasty. Headed to the 313 gig in Windsor. Unfortunately I missed almost everything going on b/c I was meeting the millions of 313ers that showed up. I suppose it served the prupose though right? It was definitely a fun party. Nuff said.
Saturday, May 26th: Kent and I dragged our tired arses out of bed bright and early to catch Norma Jean Bell. Beautiful stuff, just like you’d expect. Unfortunately there wasn’t many people there yet. Headed over to catch TP who also had to battle the slightly-too-early-for-most-of-us-losers crowd. However, seeing TP at the Motor Stage was a great way for the festival to kick off. After that I really struggled dealing with the 50% candy crowd. The raver quotient was definitely highest on Saturday. Normally I don’t trip on that at all, but it was different seeing that @ DEMF. I caught bits and pieces of lots of sets, never really feeling comfortable all day. Tadd Mullinix, Fred Gianelli and Kit Clayton all had nice sets from what I heard. I elbowed my way down to the sweetest speaker location I could find for Ae, which was absolutely essential to enjoy their set @ the Underground Stage. They played one song with an almost Surgeon-esque kick that reshaped constantly for about 12-15 minutes. Whatever it was completely blew my mind. Their bass and the crispness of all of their sounds simply have to be heard loud, and you need to be in a good position to hear it. Wow. Unfortunately everything before and after that was a bit too bass-unsteady for my tastes and once again the crowd really pissed me off. I retired briefly to the hotel and returned for Jay Denham who completely killed it. I finally found a lasting smile on my face. I missed Shawn Rudiman’s set @ the 7th City party. John Tejada ripped it up with crazy beat juggling and Metro Area was some of the warmest music I’ve ever heard. I think they played 5 songs which lasted over an hour. I missed most of Shake, and was completely spent by the time Dan Bell got on for a brief set. 17 hours of music is a lot.
Sunday, May 27th: The 7th City party the night before provided the vibe I had been missing all day @ DEMF, so I woke up much more prepared for what would come, and the elements kept away most of the less resilient fans. Mitch Walcott played some interesting pure ambience on the underground stage with laptop + airbass. I think it’s hard to control one of those without looking hokey, but the music was good. Keith Tucker’s computer “blew up” so their was no Optic Nerve to be had, but the dancer in the diaper for A Number of Names almost made up for that. Hearing Chari Vari (sp?) was pretty amazing, even if one of the vocalists couldn’t help but laugh in the middle of it. Keith Worthy had an exceedingly deep set from 2-4. Many people couldn’t tear themselves away. I think I must have caught John Acquaviva for the “5 bad songs in a row”, so I saw Todd Sines instead. Wow. His music has really veared in a different direction. It reminded me of a cross between his earlier bleepy material and Monolake with a dash of Enhanced. I loved his set, and the rest of the 313ers there seemed to feel the same. The look of complete fulfillment and exhaustion on his face when he was done was priceless. Titonton followed with a stunning half-hour set concluding with a frenetic keyboard solo and an accepted marriage proposal for his singer. His new music is 100% complete, innovative and moving. Ohio really showed off in these few hours. This was DEMF at its finest. IBEX was also playing some beautiful breaks throughout down there. Alton Miller was having an excellent set when hunger got the best of us. I didn’t make it back to the festival that night, but I hear I missed great sets from Kenny Larkin, Stacey Pullen, Kid Koala and Mixmaster Mike. Steve Crawford and TP owned the Lagger Lounge. This was my first experience witnessing DJ heckling, with Steve Crawford responding by throwing a new Chicago classic every 30-45 seconds interspersed with the siren. The feeling @ Lager House for TPs last night there was as good as Theo Parrish’s set @ DEMF last year. I think “love” is maybe the only word for it. I really doubt many people could’ve followed Steve’s set, but TP spun probably the best set I’ve ever seen him play. His transforming was so tight it could’ve been quantized. I think TP has some Jordan in him, b/c he always seems to step it up a notch when he’s sick, or if there’s a special element to the night. I don’t know how he does it. He’s also probably the nicest, most generous man on earth. After that we headed to the Sound Signature/Trackmode party. I sincerely hope someone got a picture of Otto’s face, b/c it was elation personified – for good reason. I suspect it was Brett Dancer spinning when I got there. The whole night I didn’t recognize a lot of tracks but they oooooozed deepness. The flow from that first DJ I saw to Larry Heard to Moodymann was nearly seamless. I had to fight all but one impulse in my body to tear myself away from the dancefloor to get water periodically. I think a few essental neural circuits were demolished when Moodymann played his new song with the “what was it like growing up in Detroit” sample. The strings… My God the strings. Oh, and the bass. I’ve never been blown away by the mixes I’ve heard from Moodymann or Heard before, but they were so unbelieveably *on* all night long. Full-on exhaustion set in at around 5:30. I was really reluctant to leave before hearing Rick Wilhite, but this was just one of many very hard choices all weekend. This was as good a day as any last year. I talked to people who went to 5 or 6 of the different parties. It would seem they were all phenomenal. It’s a shame they all happened at the same time.
Monday, May 28th: We had a late start for obvious reasons. I spent all day resting up @ the CPOP stage. Everyone was groovin’ to Kikoman. He covered house, electro and techno with style. I:Cube started quirky and went deep before I needed food. I returned for the 2nd half of Inner City which was really tight. The banner was awesome (“DEMF = Carl Craig” for those who weren’t there). Juan was quite good too before the gumball size hail came down. Derrick May sounded really depressed when he announced the party was over. I headed to St. Andrews after that. All the sets were very good, although it took quite a while for the crowd to filter in. Kimeon was tagteaming, and I thought the styles didn’t compliment each other very well, and the set was far too short. The Live PA at the end of the night was tight. Was this “The Sense”? This party ended too early, and more people should have come out.
In short, Corporate sponsorship on that scale was definitely a drawback. The festival has already outgrown itself. There were too many people and that may not have been the case absent the advertising overload. Sunday is a day I will never forget. There were at least 10 separate moments that justified the expense of the trip.
Other festival reports here.