DEMF 09 Preview: DRMF – Detroit’s Rave Music Festival?!?!

Movement 2009 – Electronic Music Festivals | Detroit May 23rd-25

Well that is enough to make me want to blow chunks all over my keyboard. If you want to listen to music that sounds suspiciously like trance being played by all sorts of white guys from all over the world (with DJ Minx as the lone Detroit resident, black artist, and female representative), you probably want to be in Detroit two weekends from now. Not that this promotional video should really be surprising to anyone, at least if you already checked my man Frank’s awesome statistical breakdown of the lineups of the DEMFs gone by (read them here, here, here, and here). This makes Paxahau’s direction pretty clear to anyone when they see what trends have taken place since Pax took over festival production.

That said, this year’s lineup is definitely better overall than the previous two years. House music is finally back in the house (ha) this year, with the Beatdown crew (check the link for a new mix by them for the Bleep43 cats!) getting a big chunk of time along with Rick Wade and Mike Huckaby. Why this kind of thing doesn’t happen every year is beyond me; even in 07 when the 3 Chairs and Alton Miller played in a row it was all lumped in the early afternoon, hardly the best time slot for what they do. House artists from outside Detroit are pretty well represented with Osunlade, Dennis Ferrer, and Quentin Harris (who technically hails from Detroit!) all playing on the main stage. This year also sees some more interesting Detroit artists like Al Ester, Kevin Reynolds, Jay Denham, Marc Kinchen, and others who definitely deserve the stage getting a chance to do their thing. Ghetto tech is annoyingly given the early time slot, but they make up for that by booking Slugo and Deeon to play their ghetto house music alongside the typical Detroit characters. Even the cheeseball stuff seems more restrained with nothing as egregious as Moby or Deadmaus, though bafflingly Benny Benassi is making another appearance?!?!? Thankfully Richie Hawtin isn’t playing this time, and the actual European cats booked make slightly more sense to me: the Wighnomy Bros., Steve Bug, and Anthony Rother especially. Still, can we get some Pepe Bradock? How about some Sound Stream? Addings cats like that to the lineup would strengthen things for just about everyone interested in techno. Throw in a little Afrika Bambaataa and Flying Lotus, and the lineup almost seems pretty decent, except when you compare it to the diversity of sounds and styles in the earlier years. What here compares to the Detroit Experiment? Fat Freddy’s Drop? Tortoise? 4 Hero?

Possibly my main concern with this year’s lineup is the lack of “can’t miss”, very special performances. 07 had Rhythm and Sound for 6 hours, which to be honest justified going to the festival all by itself. Last year saw DBX live and Carl Craig live on the main stage, which were both mindblowing spine-tingling sets. Los Hermanos should be awesome if previous UR live band performances are any guide, but they got stuck in a pretty weak timeslot. Ditto Octave One.

Regardless, I will be attending as usual. Kenny, Jwan, and Wojtek will also be in the house, so there should be no end of post-festival ramblings here on ISM. Hopefully the slight upswing in lineup diversity this year is a sign of things to come, not just a pandering to the old school because of the festival’s 10 year anniversary. Without question, having someone as organizationally strong as Paxahau running the festival has been an improvement in many ways. The sound systems have been pretty much awesome since they took over, the lineup on paper usually ends up being very close to what happens on stage at the proper times which reduces confusion, and the question of “is the festival even going to happen this year?!?!?!” has basically been erased. If only their bookings were a little bit better, I think everyone could be happy about the festival again while money could still be made to keep everything afloat.

As usual, there are some afterparties planned that are so dope that I can hardly believe it. The hottest party announced so far is definitely the joint with Kai Alcé, Chez Damier, and Andrés on Saturday night. Man, that is just gonna be off the hook. Sunday night will be “The Homecoming” featuring Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Traxx, Suburban Knight, and Buzz Goree for only $10. Only in Detroit, baby. An early morning rooftop set by Omar-S will be going down at Soul City 313 on Sunday, that should be some wild shit as well. Sadly there has thus far been no word on Soul Skate for this year, hopefully that will be going on as usual.

Finally, we will be record shopping like fiends. The usual spots will all be raided: Melodies and Memories, Buy Rite, and Record Time. New joints like Detroit Threads (which is where Submerge’s stock will be sold from) and Whodat’s new shop Ya Digg Records which will be opening just in time for the festival are also on the list for any rabid vinyl hunters. This year is special because there will be not one but THREE releases from Pittsburgh labels around the festival. Keep your eyes open for two new Technoir Audio limited white labels, as well as promo copies of my label’s debut release.

If you wanna meet up to hang out (or buy a record), you can find me at the Shorecrest Motor Inn (and at the Clique for breakfast every morning!) or at the festival and dope afterparties. Hit me up via email before the festival and I can get your numbers in my phone for easy texting and whatnot. So give me a holler!


  1. cerpintor says:

    I hope for your sake that Bambaata plays different music to UK and US crowds. His set at Bloc was nothing short of disgraceful.

    Bloc paid for 2 or 3 lackeys to be flown over with him, who between them couldn’t put his set up together for him less than an hour late. Then when he did come on we were treated to an hour of one of them shouting “put your hands up, put your hands up” over and over and over again, while Bambaata played commercial dance and hip-hop that you’d expect to hear on very very bad mainstream radio.

    He played “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem.

    And that was one of the highlights.


  2. j.fine says:

    goddamn, sounds like the afterparties are where the real shit goes down.

    “Sunday night will be “The Homecoming” featuring Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Traxx, Suburban Knight, and Buzz Goree for only $10. Only in Detroit, baby. An early morning rooftop set by Omar-S will be going down at Soul City 313 on Sunday, that should be some wild shit as well.”

    holy shit!

  3. pipecock says:

    yeah i heard something about MC Hammer from Kenny. hopefully he knows how to represent in Detroit. we shall see. regardless, he is the kind of artist who is from outside of the D but is relevent to their history that SHOULD be being booked at the festival. they had similarly good bookings last year with Newcleus, Egyptian Lover, and the cat from 2 Live Crew.

  4. simon says:

    fuuuck not even 1 turntable in that damn video
    The last DEMF was in 2005 afaic

  5. kuri says:

    that NDATL Muzik party looks amazing. wish I could make it out for that as well as the Homecoming one. full report requestd Tom.

  6. j.fine says:

    props for noticing that as well. the art of the vinyl dj is all but lost from most of this scene.

  7. m50 says:

    Actually, it looked to me like DJ Minx was also representing the vinyl minority…

  8. TB says:

    The NDATL party does look great, but my Saturday will be spent at the Bohemian National Home for the Blank Artists afterparty with Tim Sweeney and Osborne. has a pretty comprehensive list of all afterparty activities.

  9. pipecock says:

    you know, tim sweeney and osborne would probably be awesome any other night. but when it’s going up against two deejays like Kai and Chez who are pretty much as good as it gets for house music, plus one of if not my all time favorite house producer Andres, there is just no competition. also, the respective crowds will help make those gigs.

  10. Matt C says:

    Only 5 days away and the final lineup looks great, I cant wait for Steve Bug and Mieka Du Franx!

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