Just stumbled across this in my pics of DEMF 2003.
Just stumbled across this in my pics of DEMF 2003.
If you’ve actually read all of this, you must be starting to get an idea of what it felt like to finally reach this Saturday morning. I was *so* ready for this festival to start. It turned out that the Omni was further away than the Lycos mapquest thingy led me to believe (yes Jambi, you were right – I was thinking it was that brick parking lot, which is apparently connected to nothing), but it was still just a 25-30 minute walk, and the rooms were even nicer than the RenCen or Ponchartrain at ½ the price. I also got to see some more of Detroit that I wouldn’t usually get to explore. This is a vacant lot on the way, with an east-of-Woodward view of the downtown area:
When I arrived at the festival I immediately wandered to the High Tech Soul Stage, not even knowing that’s where I was at first. They flipped it over the top of the concrete mountain and placed the stage at the bottom of the bowl, rather than beside the river where the old Motor stage used to be.
To my excitement, Recloose was playing much earlier than expected. I watched him for about an hour and a half, starting out seeing Greg Earle and his friend Andy (who put these really nice pics online), then saw a constant influx of people come and go until it was time to wander over to see Ayro. Unfortunately, Recloose did not have a monitor, and it really showed. As always, his track selection was superb, but the mixing was rather impaired. However, the tracks were nice enough to keep me locked to that stage ‘til he was done, so that says something.
Ayro was not fucking around. He started out performing by himself, saying a few words, then jumping into a pounding live MPC-2000 percussion solo. This was damn-near dumbfounding. That segued seamlessly into a sequenced beat, at which point he started playing live chords on his Moog. At some point those chords fell into the sequence, and he switched to another keyboard, adding more layers, always doing something live.
Over the course of the next couple of songs he was joined by John Arnold on guitar, his girlfriend and he shared the vocal duties, there was a slew of dancers that worked their way on stage for about ½ the songs, and there was one other guy who helped with percussion duties.
Ayro is so impressive, wearing all of these hats at once – singing masterfully, running across stage to join in the drumming, playing thick keys and orchestrating it all. This was a really stunning performance, only slightly tainted by the overwhelming sub-bass that muffled the other frequencies.
By 5:00 I tried to make it over to see Niko Marks, but meeting people along the way and a gnawing hunger superceded. When Dave and I arrived at the Loco Bar & Grill we were amazed to find the entire DC contingent chewing up a long expanse of tables. There were at least 15 people there. Insane! I had fully intended to make it back in time to see Peven Everett, but opted to spend some quality time with LK and her Boston peepz back at their hotel. One thing that was absolutely non-negotiable for me was Amp Fiddler Live, so by 9:00 Dave and I were well on our way back to the High Tech Soul Stage.
Amp Fiddler was one of my two favorite shows of the festival. I’ve only got the Bassmentality 12″, his Mahogani record produced by Moodymann, and I’ve heard Love and War but don’t own it yet. I’m not sure which songs most of them were, but these songs all soothed with soul and belted with funk. These two (dark) pictures may reveal that there were four keyboards, three keyboardists, a bassist and a drummer on stage.
Amp Fiddler was singing and switching between two different keyboards. It’s hard to articulate what kind of musical dynamic three keyboardists and no guitar brings to live funk. It softens things up, while simultaneously drawing in the percussion of the keys. It’s a really amazing feel. The set was relatively short, at less than an hour, but totally fulfilling. I expect amazing things going forward.
By this point the festival had started to fill up. We headed to the Movement stage for a Kenny Larkin and Kevin Saunderson tag team, but unfortunately, my memory fades a bit at this point. However, you can witness the swarms below:
As this ended, we headed back to the hotel to meet Casey and Alexis, and let them into the room. On the way we passed a Hoopdie (sp) convention at the Speedway, one of which had this bizarre right-front wheel about three feet in the air while most of the rest of the car was relatively low. I almost grabbed a picture of it, but the dude got in his car just as I found a safe place to conceal that I was taking a picture (walking around Detroit at midnight taking pictures is fairly ill-advised). Anyway, we did the hotel crap and headed up to Portal, the old Submerge building I mentioned earlier, where Felton Howard, Rob Hood and the Suburban Knight were playing.
When we arriveds DJ Finger was playing a pretty nice GhettoTek set. Given that the last time I heard GhettoTek it was at the end of ATP, this seemed almost calm by comparison. He only played for a short time before Felton Howard came on. He started out with some house, then suddenly started to pound out the techno. It was a really tight set, and an excellent warm-up for Hood – from what I’m told, much harder than Felton Howard normally spins. This guy is definitely one of Detroit’s best kept secrets. I’m really looking forward to seeing him spin a house set sometime.
From my perspective, Hood was the most anticipated show of the festival. I knew how much my DC friends would love him, there were tons of Detroit, European and DC people all around me, and they were all there to see Hood. I knew to expect a beating, and the first 20 minutes were severe – nary a synth-line in sight, but then there was one, and then a Basic Channel track, and then a tribal techno number with a female house diva, and then he was thoroughly in-stride. I’d had about 10-20 minutes of this satisfaction when he turned down the music, a promoter appeared on stage and asked everyone to leave the building, as the cops would be there in 10 minutes. Grrr… Most dissapointing moment of the festival, but as you can see below, everyone had fun until then, and I doubt I’ll have another opportunity to see Felton Howard any time soon.
Once outside, there were a swarm of people around Hood all telling him how much his music meant to them, asking for autographs, and it wasn’t like the normal fanboy stuff. These guys seriously meant it – you could hear it in the tremble in their voices. I would be hard-pressed to think of another techno artist who is able to singularly top people’s list. He captivates people in a special way. I don’t think I will miss him again as lightly as I did in April.
After that we wandered down Grand towards the Audiomatrix party. Turned out that both parties in the building scrapped both guestlists. I really wanted to check this out, but funds were already down to less than $30 for the rest of the festival, so we hopped in a cab and called it an early (4 or 5 a.m.) night.
I woke up around 11:30, but like an idiot I went back to bed. I woke up again around 12:30, rushed into the shower, got out of the hotel around 1:15, tried to scrounge up some food from a convenience store (now down to less than $20) and did all I could to make it to the Thinkbox Collective in time. Unfortunately I only caught the last 10 minutes. I feel like a complete ass about missing most of this. I hope they can forgive me. What I heard was really good though. Reviews of CDs forthcoming.
From there, the other David and I wandered over to the High Tech Soul Stage again for Dabrye and Dwele back-to-back. Dabrye played mostly stuff from his latest album, but also included a couple of his earlier Tadd Mullinix tracks. Nothing that different than the last time I saw him, but really enjoyable (if deafening) on that sound system.
Dwele was a treat. I still haven’t heard more than five of his songs, but everything he played was brilliant. Again, the multiple-keyboard approach worked wonders. The live band replicated all of the brilliant production on the recordings to a tee (no easy task). Beyond that there was an intense joy in this performance. Dwele seemed so unbelievably happy, and the feeling in his music seemed absolutely genuine in an almost tangible way. Add a great sense of humor and stage presence to that, and you have one helluva performance. What an amazing way to start a beautiful day!
From Dwele I wandered back over to the Movement stage for John Beltran. As we arrived Genesis was finishing what sounded like a storming set. I really hope to see her more often, because the two times so far have been excellent. John Beltran’s band took a while to set up. I started out saying hey to the Europeans, then tried to just say a quick hello to the DC peepz, which turned into a big techno reunion of sorts, Stewart Walker came to chat for a while, my Iowa City friends came by, and before I knew it, Beltran was done. Interestingly, his performers included Ayro, John Arnold and that percussion dude from Ayro’s set. This would not be the last instance of their cross-pollination. At any rate, I wound up hanging with Greg and his peepz while acquiring a press pass for us in the process. This press pass entitled us to free Bacardi and Red Bull. This would be my salvation and destruction for the rest of the festival.
After filling up on a few complimentary beverages, we braved the bursting seems of the High Tech Soul Stage, trying to find elbow room for the Detroit Experiment.
Things had fallen behind schedule by this point, and Vikter Duplaix was banging out a furious house set, with extremely tight mixing (to my surprise). Well done to Duplaix for getting his skills up to par for this performance. It was evident he was really excited about it, so I’m glad his DJ skills proved worthy of the honor. The crowd was in a real frenzy by the time he finished. When he was done, it was evident the Detroit Experiment was not ready yet, so we hauled-ass to get more drink and made it back just in time.
By this point, I had already witnessed four excellent funk-esque bands in Ayro, Amp Fiddler, Dwele and John Beltran, so it was no shock to the system when the first track they dropped was one of their jazzier tunes. They were even better than the album. The only complaint is that they only played four or five songs, but this was still a solid 45 minutes when factoring in the amount of jamming in each song. ‘Think Twice’ (which is predictably my favorite track on the album) was soooo nice. This was all I could’ve expected and more, but just not long enough. Lots of peepz in the place too:
When they brought out the MC’s everyone was loving it:
At this point the Raspberry Bacardi and Red Bull started to taste really good, and I met up with the rest of the Iowa Press for a whole bunch ‘o drinks:
At some point I wound up in the underground stage and snapped this shot of the  elders:
And then things descended into oblivion:
Somehow I managed to miss John Arnold Live (yet another incarnation of the incestuous bunch), and I’m fairly sure I missed Pole, Akufen, Mike Clark and Francois K, but I did catch the first and last of the 3 (5) Chairs, both of whom were excellent. This was the 5th:
I also ran into Cali and her fiancé Steve (or is it husband now???) briefly (assuming I would see them again – doh!) And finally met Minto (he doesn’t usually look this blurry):
I’m not quite sure how I got to the Tangent Gallery for Cannonball Run. I very nearly recollect it. I’m fairly certain I was in a cab with LK, and someone who was at the Cannonball party the year before (pretty sure it was her friend John), and Dave, and pretty sure I wandered over to the Ponchartrain in order to find them in order to bum the ride. Yep. That must be it.
This party was sick:
It was not as crazy as last year, but just as good, if only because I made it until Traxx this year. When we arrived Jordan Zawideh was playing – I remember enjoying it, but can’t recall what it was. The one lo-light of this party was Tamion 12″ (sorry Rob, if you’re reading this). I just checked out the audio for their latest 12″ and it didn’t sound nearly as bad as they did live. The songs went on for so long (how un-punk) and were so much more tedious than on the record. It was all I could do to sit on a couch and try to block it out. It gave LK a headache. :/ However, they were followed by Carlos Souffront, who played an amazing set as always. I don’t think he pushed it above 110 bpm, and given the dancefloor disarray following Tamion 12″, it was incredibly impressive that there wasn’t a mutiny (or rather, that the mutiny was contained). His collection of ‘80s synth mayhem is so impressive. He dropped New Order, as every other time I’ve seen him. You would be hard pressed to find anyone this side of Bernard Sumner who could play it any better.
BMG of Ectomorph was up next. He played an Ableton DJ set. I don’t know if it was sequenced in advance or not, and I really don’t care, because the track selection was so astounding it couldn’t possibly matter. He went through Chicago jack trax to acid to electro, booty, disco, synth pop and everything in between. It was a truly epic set, covering at least two and a half hours, the last hour of which featured DJ Godfather scratching over the top of it. As you can see, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, even when there was a sort-of DJ pow-wow behind the decks for ages before Derek came on:
Derek’s set was short – too short, but with Traxx up thereafter, I wasn’t going to complain. He was unbelievable. I’ve never seen a set like it. It’s probably in my top 5 now. He played all EBM and Acid. Chicago meets central Europe in 1986. But he didn’t just pull out an impressive selection of rare dance classics, he pummeled them, and his mixing of those tracks proved to me more than ever that DJing creates something greater than the sum of its parts. He gained so much from his interaction with the mixer.
I’ve seen very few DJ’s who muster half what he put into this set, and the output was storming.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around what he did to me. Somehow at 7:30 in the morning, after 6 hours of hardcore debauchery, then 7 hours of sobriety, then cracking open a new keg around 6:30 (puctuated by my Doris-purchased kegstand), I was still dancing. The 30-40 people left in that room were sharing something so compelling that only a handful left during his two hours, and most stayed for quite a while after he was done.
This set was so thrilling that Mark, Josh, Doris and I made our way to the Corktown Tavern at 8:30 to start DJing.
By the time I threw some records down around 10:30 I was completely useless. That was some truly appalling mixing. After a trip through a loft in Greektown, Mark and I headed back to his hotel at the Athenium, where I crashed on his sofa at around noon.
Woke up at 3:00, walked back to the Omni, saw Casey and Alexis who were happy I was alive. I showered, Alexis was leaving, and we caught a ride back down to Hart Plaza on her way to the airport. Let it be known that the Bacardi and Red Bull tent is still not out of alcohol!!!
Casey and I promptly bumped into Stewart and Max from Tresor.
We had drinks. It was nice. I was not in a hurry to see anything until Dan Bell came on at 8. Basically, Traxx had satisfied me, and anything after that was icing. We eventually disentangled ourselves from social ties…
…and wandered back over to the High Tech Soul stage for Aril Brikha as Time:Space live. Once again the incest was perpetuated, with Ayro on keys, Tony Drake on bass, and that percussion dude on the bongos again, while Aril Brikha was the master controller. This was really nice stuff. Departure in Time live was sick. It was really cool to hear the instrumentalist’s take on what starts out as such a synthetic project. The conversion to live instrumentation was executed very well.
By this point full-on delirium had set in, after three hours of sleep, constant Red Bull and Bacardi abuse, etc. Everything else is a blur. I am fairly certain I went to check out Juan Atkins, and I know I was watching D Wynn (who was superb). At some point along the line, I met a cute raver woman, Laurinda, with whom I plunged into naughty, obnoxious dancefloor romance. Obviously I thoroughly enjoyed this, but I fear for what it must’ve looked like to any who witnessed it. In fact, I think I was in some sort of music/dance/kissing/wrapped-around-each-other euphoria, and having witnessed a fair amount of this as an onlooker, I know it doesn’t look good, but I can definitely sympathize with the plight of these unfortunate souls who are completely oblivious to everything but music and mashing.
When the fog started to lift, I found myself among the DC, Detroit and European contingents, all in one central area of the Movement stage, watching Mills.
All I can recall is that it was very quiet. I think I was talking with Laurinda for a lot of the performance.
Shame I can’t remember Mills, but I have seen him three times in the last year as-is.
I was supposed to be on the guest list for the Works. On that assumption, Dave and John were kind enough to sport me a cab there with them. When we arrived and found out that not only had they cancelled the guestlist, but that the cover was $25, John and Dave kindly split my cover. Thanks guys!!! A few people bought me a couple of drinks as well before the 2:00 cut-off. The music was amazing, but I also got to hang with Mark one more time, Cheryl bought some much-needed fries, and by the time Ron Trent came on, I was running back and forth between he and KDJ in the front room. It’s hard to sum this up too precisely, but it was a pretty fantastic finale – not as intense as Ron Trent’s set to close out last year, but KDJ was almost as on as at the Sound Signature party two years earlier. He even played a bunch of Chicago jack and acid. I heard a lot of that this weekend. Sometime near 5 or 6 Mark and Pete drove me back to the Omni, once again saving my broke ass. These pics (most of them taken after 4am) ought to sum up the evening relatively well, since words and memories are failing:
When I woke up at 11:30 I found two people in bed with Casey. Turns out it was Petey and his friend who’s name I don’t think I ever caught. She was really nice though – as she drove me to the airport through nasty traffic when she just needed to get to the doctor. The Northwest check-in process was evil, the security at O’Hare was crazy (there was a third check on the ramp to the airplane where these dudes who looked like cops were interrogating anyone who looked slightly Muslim – which on Air India was quite a few people), and I refused to deal with long-term jet lag so after arriving in London at 10am (Wednesday) on almost no sleep (dude next to me was persistently coughing, snoring and elbowing), I stayed up until 11pm. I don’t think I’ve slept like I slept Wednesday night all year.
…As I was saying, Thursday morning started with a trip to Detroit airport so we could return the rental car. We stopped one exit early in order to get gas. When I was walking in the building to pay for it, a guy pulled in bumping some amazing techno – I thought “Welcome to Detroit”. 🙂 Casey wandered in after me, and the guy did too. Casey asked him what he was playing and he said, “that’s me”! Wow. Turns out he’s 1/3 of Audiomatrix. We all chatted for a while, and then he guest-listed us for his Movement afterparty. More on that later, but he seemed a really nice chap.
Since we were nearly in Detroit, we’d planned to check out a free brunch and symposium at the Detroit Historical Museum, home of the new Detroit Techno exhibit that will soon be touring the world. The exhibit was a bit of a let-down, but the symposium was cool. Got to meet up with a few of the Techno Tourists early-on, and see a few of Jenn’s friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Also, the talks were really cool:
From there we were headed to Necto (F/K/A the Nectarine Ballroom) for the Minus party feat. Clark Werner, Magda and Richie Hawtin. On the way I jumped out of the car on the corner downstairs from where Dave’s Comics used to be, and got myself a cigar at a place next door to Stairway to Heaven (can’t believe that place is still around). From there I wandered up State Street to Liberty and saw the sites and sounds that comprised my first adolescent adventures circa ‘86-‘89. Once upon a time I wandered these streets with a skateboard in hand – a few years later I would be carting loads of debate evidence on the same streets. To say the least this was a flood of memories culminating in Necto, where I had my first clubbing experience at 14. Turns out that Jeff Mills used to DJ those same nights, although I suspect he was DJing later than the midnight curfew that was the teen-night terminus.
On entry we explored my old haunt. Everything was different. They moved the DJ booth, there was an outdoor deck, and a downstairs area I don’t remember. Magda was playing a groovy set on the main floor while the deck had yet to start. The night was so nice we mostly chilled on the deck until Clark Werner came on. Many people were seen. Many drinks were consumed. Eventually I persuaded myself to check out Hawtin, just as he was starting. As usual, I persuaded myself it was really captivating for about 10 minutes, then my patience was tested in the next ten minutes, then I got bored in the last ten minutes I allowed him. I am  close to writing him off. I’m really getting tired of stories from Hawtin fans telling me I need to see him in the right venue. I don’t believe it. I just don’t like his flacid music. Dare I say it, he is progressifying techno, and that is pretty damn criminal. I’ll still listen to his production, but we’ve known for years that his production and DJing are very different things.
So… it was back out to the deck, where Clark Werner was continuing to play great music as always, and then things got a bit messier, and devolved into lots of drunken banter + overblown anti-Hawtin rants. End Thursday.
The next morning Ali and I walked up the street to the Village Kitchen, where I finally found my Belgian Waffle with Strawberries and Whipped Cream. True, it was not on a par with Maryland Diner quality, but it was 90% of the way there. On the way back I noticed we were across the street from Veteran’s park, the place where they built the skate park where I first tried out a ½-pipe. It was 32 feet wide, metal and 13 feet tall at the highest extension. I never got very good at skating ramp, but it was fun to try! It was great to see Ann Arbor again, standing in line outside the Necto, being 50 feet from the old home of Schoolkids Records, where I started my musical development, and another 50 feet from the BK where I landed my first job. It was a trip!
That afternoon we headed to the Omni so Ali and I could check into her and Gil’s room (I was staying there that Friday night). On the way we passed Portal, the old home of Submerge at 2030 Grand River, where I played Casey’s party with Traxx in August, and where we would see Felton Howard and Rob Hood on Saturday:
After checking in, Casey and I headed up to Dennis’s house in Southfield for his 2nd annual  party. Not as many familiar faces as last year, but good to see some new ones. These were the few that were familiar enough to pictorialize (or that I was smart enough to capture):
Around midnight we headed to the Corktown Tavern to try to take in some of the 7th City Party. I actually grabbed a cab from there, but it turned out that they weren’t letting anyone in anyway, so Magda and Dennis arrived at the Detroit Contemporary around the same time as me. Very silly… I’m fairly certain that my friend Barry AKA Kataconda was playing when we arrived. He mixed a CD set, featuring a lot of his own material from CD-R. Really nice stuff! Christian Bloch followed that with a walloping minimal techno set, TJ (Wraith) followed that with another good techno set, then I came on, thoroughly inebriated at this point. If I can trust the reviews, it turned out well, although I had to mix from techno down to house, which is one of the things I find hardest to do, especially when really drunk. At one point I was manually winding one record up to +10 while in the mix – that was just stupid, although I think it actually worked! I think I recognized my limits fairly soon though, since Mike (who was on after me) allowed me to play a ½-hour into his set, at which point the cops came and shut us down. ‘Twas a shame, but good that we got to go as late as we did, given that some of the other parties got crushed much earlier. It was a fun night, great to see all those peepz who I wouldn’t get to see for long throughout the rest of the festival, and always a treat to play in Detroit. Also great to finally meet John Shipman, who I’ve been chatting with online for ages. Great chap. We got to spend a lot of time together over the weekend, which was long overdue.
This is getting really long, so I’m going to split it into two posts. On to the festival. ->
Friday: Left work around 1:00, drove with Lindsey to find Hertz – couldn’t find it for 1/2 hour – turns out it’s at the airport. Go to Hertz counter – they don’t take Check Cards. Try every place (Budget’s rate is $75/day) and wind up @ Dollar (who required a $350 hold on the card which will no-doubt make my life hell this week, and possibly result in overdrafts – ugh). Finally get Lindsey’s car back to her work and hit the road around 3:15 – now two hours later than planned. Miss most of the traffic until upper I-270, then sit through hell and conjestion for most of the next hour. Arrive in Detroit a little after Midnight. Casey meets us there soon before 1:00 to check us in (we got a drink in the mean-time), then headed over to the Sweetwater Tavern (one of my favorite places in Detroit) for a late meal and drinks. Got to bed around 3:00. Got good sleep! Would need it…
Saturday/Sunday: Wandered downstairs to meet Traxx and Casey @ 2:00 to run errands and get food while Lindsey woke up. Wound up not getting any food until 7:00 when we ate @ the Loco Bar & Grill (another of my favorite places in Detroit). The grilled cheese and fries was the only food I got all day… Went back to the hotel and started to work on a bottle of Rum & Coke. Went to the party soon before 11:00. The venue (2030 Grand River) is the old submerge building – a place with tons of musical history. The sound was very echo-y, and people still weren’t showing up. Lindsey went on @ 12, and played a nice set. Unfortunately, there still were very few people although it looked like it might fill up for a while. I got on @ 1:30 and played til 3. Traxx brought a Minidisc recorder and we got discs earlier in the day, so I have a recording of my performance in Detroit! Things were slightly shaky at first, between getting the bass out of the monitors, to cranking them up and adjusting the weight on one of the tunrtables, which skipped and ruined one of my first mixes, but after that it went really well (I think – still need to hear it). I had at least one nasty mix when Cali and Steve were saying goodbye in the middle of an already ill-conceived mix. People were mostly watching T. Linder in the other room for his set – most of the crowd were his freinds, but I made one bartender very happy, and I had a blast. I don’t think I’ve ever put that much of myself into a set, regardless of how the outcome may have been. Anyway.. I can’t wait to hear the set! The bit I heard last night got me excited.
Traxx came on after me, and played 2 1/2 hours of really tight, minimal chicago-y beats with proliferous layers. It was crazy… The cops showed up at 5:30 and closed the party down. We got back to the hotel really late, and didn’t get to bed ’til around 7:30 after hanging with Traxx and his friend Tiny in their room for a while. Great people! Casey called just after we fell asleep, then we woke up @ 11:30. We didn’t really get on the road after breakfast until around 2, so… we just got home @ 11 after returning the rental car and all that. Crazy weekend! Much to do this week…
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 high 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 expected 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.