DEMF 2002

I can’t say I really felt the vibe I came to Detroit for this year @ the festival proper, but I don’t think that had much to do with festival execution. Much like last year, it was hard to find the right place for your mood. I had some issues with the schedule/stages, like Dave Clarke in an absurdly filled underground stage Sunday night, Stewart Walker and Green Velvet on so early but these are ultimately subjective things. There were a lot of things I chose not to see b/c the crowd issues were unpleasant. I spent close to an hour trying to get from MGD -> CPOP -> Underground during P-Funk. You can’t blame the organizers for that, but it’s a vibe killer. If I have any beef with the organization, it’s that the only way you can see what you want for big names is to get to a stage early, and then you need to sit through a 5-minute loop of loud commercials. I understand the funding needs to come from somewhere, but this was a bit too much. The DJ Supply room was a salvation at times. Keith Worthy played a really nice set from 9-10 Sunday during the middle of that chaos. There were only 5 people in there when I showed up and about 100 when I left. I’m not trying to take a dump on the festival, it just didn’t leave me feeling any of the intensity I felt at the parties, and the logistics of seeing what you want can get messy. I still enjoyed a good deal of my time there though.

So… I found myself seeking out parties this year, not so much because of specific acts, but b/c I thought I would enjoy myself most at those events. Maybe that seems obvious or meaningless, but it helped me guide my choices. Thursday night’s Techno Karaoke party was fun, even though we arrived late. Derrick Plaslaiko should never be given a microphone. 🙂 Dykehouse did a really nice Robert Plant impression for a minute too. It was nice to see lots of locals out for a party designed for fun. Good stuff.

Friday night was spent @ Dennis’ list party – a great chance to touch base with lots of 313ers before the weekend kicked into h igh gear. From there I headed to Chamillian Cafe for TP, who was in top form. I got there as he started – he captivated me throughout. Great vibe, small venue, nothing but heads in the place. Pure entertainment at its finest, with TP at his most crowd-interactive. I love seeing him in really small places for that reason. It’s just a great party.

Saturday night I checked out the OMOA Music shindig for about an hour and a half. I think this label is really gonna turn some heads. Szymanski played a brilliant broken beat set, including his new track (mmm…). Their slogan, “Good for Party”, pretty much summed it up. After that I headed to Cannonball Run for Traxx, Derek Plaslaiko, Carlos Souffront, BMG and others. They played an awful lot of ’80s tracks. Yussel et al did a great job with this event. Derek in particular made my night, doing his aggressive, no-cueing mixes for a while. He can produce so much energy when he goes at it uninhibited like that. It was a pretty stark contrast with his DJ Supply set Monday night, which was tight as hell, with some amazing glitchy tracks I’ve never heard, but not quite so energetic. He’s got to be one of the most talented and diverse DJs in Detroit.

Sunday night I was a bit fed up with fighting crowds so I headed to the Planet E party early. Rob’s set was really subtle and beautiful. I thought Carl Craig pulled out all the stops. I’ve always loved his DJing, with some *mild* reservations about his ability to capitalize on the power of mixing compared to someone like DJ Bone (not to say he isn’t usually very tight). Sunday he went-off on the decks like I’ve never heard him do. I think my entire body convulsed in one 5-minute spasm when he dropped Fix Flash. Todd Sines’ new material is really going to make a mark. He’s found a warmer sound than the colder, Monolake-esque style he played last year (not that I didn’t love that set too). The Mark Ernestus dub set was really tasty too. Unfortunately the fuel tank was empty at that point. This was all I could have expec ted from such a brilliant lineup. No one disappointed. Oh – and Mike Clark played a new DNH track that reminds me a lot of “deep burnt”, but expanding on that idea. I think it was called “Trackhead” – I presume it’s Nick Holder. It was a white label, so I think it might be forthcoming. Keep your eyes peeled.

Monday night was spent @ The Works. I think I checked out the main room for all of 10 minutes all night. I’m pretty sure it was D Wynn playing early in the front. He was really on, playing some uptempo house flawlessly. This really set the mood for Ron Trent, who dropped at least 4 hours of deeeeeeep house. This set really moved me. I’ve never danced that much in my life. Otto didn’t leave the dancefloor for more than 10 seconds of his entire set. I thought when I saw him in DC last Fall, it was one of those Detroit-esque moments that never happen here, that I would likely never see Ron Trent reproduce. Somehow, he surpassed it twelve-fold. This was the best set of the festival for me, only closely matched by Radio Boy. If anyone knows what the building, dueling pianos track was that he played twice about 3 hours apart, I will be forever indebted. He was playing it from track 3 on a CD, and I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt him to find out. The art of deep house mixing is often so much about laying out the tracks in a great order and making the set move conceptually. He wrote the textbook on that last
night.

No matter what happens to the festival going forward, parties like these convey what the Detroit scene is capable of that can’t be found elsewhere. I had a really fabulous time. I <3 Detroit.

Other festival reports here.

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