Movement, Detroit's Electronic Music Festival, or DEMF, is back in 2008 for another go around. Taking place from May 24-26 in Detroit's Hart Plaza, I've been told that DEMF 2008 has scheduled one of the most exciting line ups the event has ever seen.
Before we get into this year's event, a small history lesson is in order. When over 1.5 million people showed up at the festival each year, from its beginning in 2000 through 2002, it looked as if DEMF has an incredible future as an annual event in downtown Detroit. Subsequently though, as controversy regarding the festival ensued, and the event's organization changed hands, the future of the festival was in doubt.
The Electronica music scene has been a part of Detroit's history for almost 30 years. Legend has it that Detroit Techno was started in the 1980's by the "Belleville Three," which included members Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May. The three men were black males from the Detroit suburb, although I say that term loosely, of Belleville, Michigan. As fate would have it, all three men bonded over music as they found themselves outcasts in an extremely white town.
After visiting Chicago and hearing the sounds of house music, the three guys decided to take house music's dance style sound from Chicago, and add mechanical sounds by using analog synthesizers and drum machines to form what is now known as Techno. By 1988-89, the European rave scene embraced the sound coming from Detroit and Techno became its own music genre.
While Techno, house music, and Electronica never took off as mainstream in the U.S., to this day, the music is extremely popular abroad, and especially in Europe. Each member of the "Belleville Three" still tours the globe and continues to create new music. European Electronica music has shown its appreciate for what Detroit has done for the genre by honoring it in many songs, including just recently the worldwide hit, "Put Your Hands Up for Detroit" by Ferde Le Grande.
In response to Detroit's great electronic history, the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival was created in 2000 by Carol Marvin, founder of Pop Culture Media, and former sponsorship organizer of the Detroit Jazz Festival and the Michigan State Fair. Carl Craig, influential Techno producer in the Detroit scene, was hired as "artistic director" for the event. The inaugural festival was deemed a huge success as it unexpectedly saw over 1 million people attend. Subsequent festivals in 2001 and 2002 drew even larger crowds, topping off at about 1.7 million.
But controversy soon ensued, as Carl Craig was fired for not fulfilling the terms of his contract. Subsequently, in 2003 and 2004 the event was placed in the hands of "Belleville Three" member Derrick May, who changed the event name to "Movement." Yet, the event's luster was just not there, and in February 2005, May resigned from his post after losing thousands of dollars.
From there, another "Belleville Three" member, Kevin Saunderson, took control of the event, and re-named it "Fuse-In." Unfortunately, like fellow friend Derrick May, Saunderson was not able to create a profit from the event, and by 2006, the event changed hands again, this time given to Ferndale based Paxahau, a electronic record label and booking agency. Paxahau again changed the name of the event to, "Movement, Detroit's Electronic Music Festival." While Paxahau claims that Saunderson, May, and Craig support the festival under Paxahau's management, only May has confirmed this, although I am told Carl Craig will perform at the 2008 event.
Since Paxahau took over organization of the event, all reports have been that DEMF is back on top and continually growing. The fact that the 2008 event is even taking place is a testament to that.
Organizers of the 2008 DEMF festival hope to continually upgrade the quality of the event in order to support its growth. An article on Remix Magazine's website states:
"The festival will feature four distinct stages - each with its own unique personality. The Vitaminwater Stage, the Beatport Stage, the Real Detroit Stage and the Red Bull Stage. This is the first year the Red Bull Music Academy is presenting a stage at any US festival."
The article explains that, "The Red Bull Stage and the Beatport Stage represent two of the most significant improvements to this year’s festival. Both stages feature new structure designs to provide the audience with an optimal listening and dancing experience. The stages include new vinyl roofs and metal structures, ensuring a foundation strong enough to hold the sound and lighting systems. Plus, the stages provide more space, better sightlines and protection against inclement weather conditions. In addition to these new stages, the festival will feature drastically enhanced sound systems to provide attendees with outstanding sound quality."
Like I always say, we don't pretend to be too hip at DetroitArmy, so I won't comment on the lineup, but as stated before, DEMF's 2008 lineup is apparently considered a doozy. With all this in mind, May 24-26 is a perfect time to come downtown, enjoy great weather, and have an incredible time at one of this country's best electronic music festivals. Expect to see technoheads, electronica junkies, ravers, urbanites, suburbanites, and people just trying to have a good time. Electronic music doesn't have to be your cup of tea to enjoy this event, and everyone should take advantage of this exciting festival right in our backyard.
With the expected large turnout and our support, the 2008 event should keep Detroit in the Electronica spotlight, while reminding outsiders of Detroit's status as one of the most influential cities that electronic music has ever seen.
Discounted pre-sale admission tickets to the festival are $40 for a weekend pass or $175 for VIP tickets. The festival’s hours are 12 Noon to Midnight.
For more information on Movement 08 - Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival or to order tickets, visit DEMF or Paxahau.com
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