DEMF 10

DEMF 2010: Pipecock’s Wrap-Up

This is LOOOOOONNNNNNNNGGGGGGG so it is going behind the cut. Click through to read more and to see more great pix from my man Matt Cohen!

THURSDAY

I arrived in Detroit on Thursday afternoon to get an early start on record shopping on Friday (the records shit will get its own post, probably tomorrow and probably with an accompanying mix!), but also so I could check out my man Todd Weston’s Hot Pot night that goes down at Pulse every Thursday night. As I rolled up to the club, I almost ran a couple cats over pulling a U-turn. It turns out that those cats were Derrick May and Omar-S! Apparently there was a little get-together for Carl Craig’s birthday at the club, and it was an all-star cast out to celebrate. I saw KDJ, Rick Wilhite, Kyle Hall, Carl Craig, Derek Plaslaiko, and more. I ducked in the back for a bit to chill out and catch some music, but DEMF weekend is a marathon not a sprint, so I retired early. This was a great way to kick off the weekend!

FRIDAY

After getting in a full day of record shopping on Friday, we decided to rest early while the movie/Timeline thing was going on (Apparently a mistake, as me might have been the only people in the city to not go. All reports were that it was awesome!) before heading out to Bert’s for Rick Wilhite, Theo Parrish, Wbeeza, Boo Williams, and Glenn Underground. The space was really cool, right in the middle of the Eastern Market and with really sweet murals of great black leaders on the wall. Rick Wilhite was playing when we came in, and he was dope as usual. It’s kind of a shame that he ends up playing early at these parties, but I guess that’s how it goes. After him was DJ Masahiko Uchikawa, who went from playing kind of blandish house to finishing off with deep disco like Sylvester’s “Over & Over”. Things were building up at this point when Wbeeza went on. He was playing a live set from a computer, and while it started out decently enough, his music just didn’t have enough character to make it captivating. Combined with a quick mass exodus of people going outside to move their cars so they wouldn’t get towed, and the energy level dropped off precipitously. Theo came right after, mixing in an edit of Bob James’ “Spunky” (aka the track the keys of “Shades of Jae” are jacked from) and then rolling into full Ron Hardy mode. “Peaches and Prunes”, “Catch Me on the Rebound”, “Anger”, and many more classics were dropped, though the energy level never did quite get back up to where it had been. The place was properly packed though, with lots of nice dancers and even a couple cats on roller skates getting down. After that, Boo and GU started up a tagteam set to close out the night, which we rolled in the middle of as not to wear ourselves down too early. All in all, not as hot as Rick Wilhite’s Friday night party from last year, but still a good time.

SATURDAY

Saturday was the first day of the actual festival. Mark Ernestus was playing at 2pm on the main stage (An aside: I will not be referring to the sponsor names for the stages. The main stage and the underground stage are pretty self explanatory. The grassy stage is the one with all the mnml, and the tent is the one up by Jefferson. Finally, the waterfront stage is the one near the water! Look them up on a map if you really need more info to know which was which…) and that was the first thing I needed to catch. The concrete bowl at the main stage tends to act like a frying pan when it is hot like it was on Saturday (about 86 F!), and I’m sure that kept people away. Us die-hard dub fans lined the front where we could catch some shade from the stage and stand in front of the bassbins at the same time. Unfortunately, the sound was VERY VERY low for Ernestus’ set. We could easily have conversations right by the speakers, and the bass was not rattling anyone’s innards which is NECESSARY for dub music. Eventually, this irritated me enough that I had to go check out some other stuff.

First I stopped through the underground to see Niko Marks. The setup down there was similar to ’03, with the stage lining the far wall. There was some acoustic treatment on the ceiling to try to kill some of the boomy bass, but any increase in sound quality on this stage was most likely due to the lower volume and the stage placement. The sound was still horrible on the upper lever, so you had to venture down into the pit to be able to actually hear anything. Because all entry and exit to the pit is from one small ramp, this makes getting in and out irritating even when the stage isn’t packed. This is still my least favorite stage for many reasons, and I wish they would have put the Detroit artists somewhere else since I spent so much time down there. That said, it wasn’t nearly as horrible as it was last year when it was completely unlistenable. Niko’s set was odd, seemingly playing tracks from vinyl and others from a computer and then jamming over them with his keys. Not nearly as dope as his full-band live sets from a couple years ago, but just kind of weird. Next up, Kyle Hall was banging a set of clubby house/techno with a couple bass tuns thrown in. Nothing super-special, and I wanted to check out Martyn on the waterfront stage so I jetted pretty quickly. The waterfront stage was the best stage overall. It had the best soundsystem (when they felt like turning the volume up), the best view, nice shade, plus the cool breeze coming in off the Detroit river. Martyn’s set was a bit hit or miss, though. When I first got over there, he was playing some house with a samba-style beat. He proceeded to play a few more rhythmically diverse house/techno/2-step cuts, before descending into bland minimal techno. By this time, I was ready to check out Kirk Degiorgio.

One of my personal highlights this year was getting to meet Mr. Degiorgio in person. Kirk and I have had some good discussions online over the past few years about the use of computers and other technology in deejaying and live performances, and I finally got to see what his sets are like in real life. What it was like was some of the best TECHNO I heard all weekend. Melodic but a bit banging, the computer was honestly not much of an issue for me aside from a bit too much EFX a few times (though generally he was pretty restrained with that). I had to jet for the middle of his set to grab my sister from the hotel, and apparently I missed a computer crash in there somewhere, but I was back for the end of it. What I caught was really good, and I have to give it up to Kirk for that. He worked that shit!

Once Kirk finished, it was back to the dungeon uh, underground stage to catch the end of Rick Wilhite and then Theo Parrish. Rick was banging it much harder than he did the night before, and people seemed into it. I had been hoping for more deep house, as this festival seemed almost completely devoid of it.

Theo cleared out the room a bit at the start of his set with some Brazilian records, but then settled into some slow funk, soul, disco, and house. Marvin Gaye’s “Heavy Love Affair” was a highlight, but the crowd was generally not that down with this kind of music and REALLY cleared out once Plastikman started up. Lack of a good vibe, the smelly underground air, and the fact that I would be seeing Theo again in just a few short hours led me out of the hellhole underground and back to the hotel for a little R&R before the Music Institute party. The first day of the festival was very hit or miss, with nothing seeming to really stand out aside from Kirk Degiorgio.

Saturday night we hit the NDATL/Sound Signature party at the old Music Institute building. Last year’s installment with Andrés, Chez Damier, and Kai Alcé was dope, and I had high expectations for this year’s which featured Kai, Theo, and Larry Heard. Of course this ended up being one of the best things all weekend! Larry Heard was already killing it when we walked in. Then Kai was up next, playing all sorts of deepness before veering off into some ill disco cuts like Elektra “Feels Good” and Billy Ocean’s “Nights”. Theo finished it off with a set heavy with his own edits, most notably the James Brown “Body Heat”/”Doin’ It To Death” joint that tends to go on forever. Hopefully this will become a regular party! The space is great, and the crowd that shows up for this is very knowledgeable and ready to dance.

SUNDAY

Sunday was a bit of a late start for me, as I slept in a bit from having too much fun at the Music Institute party. I had planned on hitting Recloose and then the ghetto tech, but I arrived at the festival too late for Recloose so I headed straight over to the waterfront for DJ Godfather. Usually, shit is CRAZY for the ghetto tech. This year, due to the heat and the fact that once again the sound system was NOT LOUD ENOUGH, it was much more restrained. Hudson Mohawke no-showed, so Godfather kept going, dropping a set of Detroit dance classics (“I’m Ready”, “Night Drive Through Babylon”, “Cosmic Raindance”, “Groove La Chord”, etc.), sadly the only time I heard most of these over the weekend.

At 6pm we headed over to the main stage to catch Larry Heard. As one of the few people who actually played deep house over the weekend, it was very refreshing in a sea of mediocre techno to hear him play old Chicago jack/acid cuts as well as more modern deepness. This was all mixed up flawlessly, and with great style. Of course Mr. Fingers only got one whole hour, sandwiched between two hours of DJ Pierre and two hours of DJ Sneak, neither of whom really delivers the goods at this point. This reeks to me of more lip service paid towards the truly great artists without actually giving them any respect.

Then it was back to the underground for Shake. Shake is always one of my favorite deejays, and this set in particular was very dope. He started off harder, which got people worked into a frenzy, before taking things more abstract. Highlights included a long mix out of a vocal dubstep sounding cut into “Phylyps Trak II”, and D-Train’s “You’re the One For Me”. After Shake came Rolando, who was banging things out in a housey tip, including “Shades of Jae”.

I was tired of being underground, so I went to check to see if Villalobos had somehow showed up at the grassy stage, but he hadn’t. Then it was over to Mr. Scruff, who was playing a set of wobbly bass heavy housey tunes that all sounded like his productions to my ears. Not sure if they really were, but regardless it kept me entertained on that crazy system that was finally PUMPING. If they had that stage sounding like that all weekend, it would have been awesome. Instead, this was the ONLY set in which the bass really felt present.

I dipped back down to the uncomfortable underground for a little of Robert Hood’s live set. What I heard was pretty cool, but I was over the festival by that point, and especially over the underground stage, so I headed back to rest for Soul Skate.

Soul Skate is absolutely the best thing you can do over DEMF weekend in Detroit. It is the place where you are guaranteed to see the most Detroit locals doing what it is that they normally do, and you get to go roller skating to great music courtesy of Moodymann! I have been getting more into skating over the past few years, partially due to the first Soul Skate and partially due to my son getting into skating now. Just before the festival, my wife and I finally got our own skates since we were tired of the limiting set-ups of the rentals as well as the painful blisters that come from using them.

It was awesome to get to use my own skates, and I’m hoping that by next year I am an even better skater than I am now (I did hold down the backwards skate pretty well this year though!). The soulfood was excellent, and the vibe was awesome. I saw Piranhahead, Omar-S, and KDJ out on the floor as well!

MONDAY

The weather had been crazy hot on Saturday and Sunday, and Monday actually cranked up the humidity while adding in crazy storms without much less heat. I held off going to the festival until Moritz Von Oswald and his trio were about to go on. It wasn’t much of a surprise, but the set featured special guest Carl Craig manning a modular synth on which he made crazy space noises. They were running a little late, but aside from that and a technical glitch that resulted in a few minutes of downtime in the middle, it was well worth the wait and the journey into the nasty elements. The music started out dense and foreboding before breaking out into something a little more straightforwardly rhythmic. The end of the set took things into a dubbier realm.

While this was musically one of the best sets of the weekend, it suffered from other problems that detracted from it. Once again, the sound was just not loud at all. Even more irritating, however, was the fact that throughout the performance there were stage hands standing in front of the performers in order to set up turntables or whatever. Like this couldn’t have been done in 10 minutes once the MVO3 was finished? It was pretty disrespectful.

After them came DJ Koze. This guy needs to learn how to mix two records together. After him was Michael Mayer, who played a trance record. I left the festival at this point, because I was just done with it.

Monday night’s afterparty of choice was DJ Harvey playing at the TV Bar. This place is a FANTASTIC venue. It has really nice sound (big stacks of Cerwin-Vega bassbins in the back, sound flown in around the front, speaker stacks in all the corners and in the bar area, etc.) and just seems like a really cool place to hang out. The unnamed warm-up deejay was playing many of my jams (Disco Circus “Over & Over”, etc.), and did a good job setting the stage for Harvey. Once he came on though, he kinda meandered a bit through some disco edit sounding things before finally latching onto a sweet groove that was building up energy just as the cops came in to shut down the event. Why they shut it down is a mystery to me; the spot was a licensed club in a place with no residences anywhere near it. Apparently the cops had been a problem all weekend, though thankfully they had not shut down any of the parties I attended until this one. A very disappointing end to a pretty disappointing weekend.

SUMMING IT ALL UP

Previously, I have given Paxahau their propers for being strong on the organizational tip. I can no longer say that is the case. There were sound issues of all sorts, ranging from the bad sound resulting from using the underground to the lack of volume for no good reason, to technical glitches nearly every time I went to check something out. There was no real flow to the sets on the stages, and the diversity we might have expected from Carl Craig being artistic director was just not there. And when something that wasn’t bland techno was being played (Mark Ernestus, Theo Parrish, MVO3), the crowd was small and seemed mostly uninterested. Also, one of their biggest headliners, Ricardo Villalobos, did not show up.

Possibly the most fucking irritating thing was the fact that the security was not letting people bring in records and CDs. This is one of the most important functions of the festival! People who don’t get to see each other often get to network and exchange new vinyl. Records were not allowed in because of some shit about “taking away profits from vendors”. The fact that these were promotional records did not register with these people. So not only have Paxahau almost completely snuffed out Detroit culture at the festival, they are now also trying to snuff out vinyl culture as well. The only vendors who stocked vinyl this year were the Mahogani booth and the Ghostly booth. Thankfully they continue to hold it down, but Paxahau’s attitude is just insanely stupid.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I saw all this coming, but DEMF was such a life-altering event for myself and so many people that I thought it would eventually right itself. Carl Craig coming back to be artistic director? Surely this would be the catalyst to positive change! Alas, it was not meant to be. In fact, this was by far the worst DEMF of the ones I’ve been to (every one starting in ’03), and it will be the last one I attend. I will most likely be present in Detroit on Memorial Day weekend every year, but I won’t set foot on the ground at Hart Plaza as long as it means Paxahau gets even a single fucking penny of my money. This shit is now so far from what it once was that it is hardly recognizable as the same festival. The first-timers I knew this year were NOT blown away as others have been so many years here.

I can no longer recommend going to the festival itself, but definitely go and support Detroit’s record stores and the parties/clubs that support local Detroit deejays. There was a free event this year that went on during the festival that I did not get a chance to check out. I saw that Moonstarr, Archtype, Ibex, and more were playing. Hopefully next year they will do that again, and I will be happy to support it. Something needs to be done to return this shit to the roots of what it was all about in the beginning. Detroit is still as vital as it ever was, but you wouldn’t know it from going to the DEMF, which is just SAD.

The final highlight this year was meeting people and hanging out with cats I don’t usually get to see. Shout outs go to Scott Grooves, Specter, Alfonso/José/the rest of the Downbeat crew, Kirk Degiorgio, Rick Wade, Todd Weston, Whodat, Rob Theakston, The Butcher, Rick Wilhite, Omar-S, Recloose, Malik Pittman, Moonstarr, Todd Sines, Charles Noel, Aaron from Fit Distro, Kai Alcé, DJ Dez, TJ Dumas, Kuri Kondrak, Steve Mizek, Jacob Arnold, Bernardo, Minto, Ricky, Andy Stone + crew, all Pittsburgh crew (Kelly, Blot, Will, Andrew Burger, Jwan Allen, Shawn Rudiman, Adam Ratana, Preslav, etc.) and the usual DEMF crew (Matt Cohen, Chris O’Connor, Mikebee, Wojtek, Count Zer0, Carleton Gholz, etc.), and anyone else I might be forgetting. These are the cats that make this weekend essential and fun, even when the festival itself is not up to par.

Thanks again to Matt Cohen for all the sweet pix, and thanks to everyone else who helped the parts of this weekend that didn’t suck!

48 Comments

  1. Cody says:

    Wow. I read the whole thing and I hate to sound like a know-it-all but I’m really not surprised. I had a bad feeling about this year, hence I went a graffiti jam in Baltimore instead which was dope as hell. It sounds like there were some super dope moments though, thanks for the insight into the weekend!

  2. Whodat says:

    It was cool to hang with you as well. Thanks for all of the support. See you next time or when I come to the Pitt.

    Peace

  3. Edgar Um says:

    brutal, man.

    sucks u missed Recloose and what happened to Harvey.

    somebody forgot to throw the mayor’s office some cash…?

    not being able to carry vinyl promos around…wtf?

    it’s all disheartening.

  4. Edgar Um says:

    also, yeah, Kirk D. is a cool dude. i used to speak with him online a bit years ago. he’s a wonderful producer who keeps evolving.

  5. MEK says:

    Good report Mr Pipecock – good suggestion to keep supporting Detroit but not necessarily the festival. It sounds like it’s lightyears away from the original vibe of the first years.
    And only giving Mr Fingers an hour but Snake 2 hours? What the hell is wrong with these people?

  6. I only went to the festival Saturday… and I could see the way things were headed so I chose to skip it the rest of the weekend, and instead hit TV Bar Sunday during the day, and Old Miami on Monday.

    I must say I have no regrest with my decision… TV Bar was pretty good when I arrived though it died out a bit early as people headed to the festival. But the Old Miami day party just has a vibe that nothing else during the weekend seems to replicate, and I quite enjoyed the music there this year too, it seems to be quite a bit better than it was last year. The previously mnml guys seem to be coming around, and to my ears the tracks being played now actually have a pretty nice house vibe and some funk to them.

    The Hot Natured disco party may have also been good, but sadly I was too tired to catch it.

  7. Steven Tang says:

    Hi Tom. Hope all is well. Nice read. I have one comment… You say that this is one of the worst DEMF that you’ve been to and it’s not the same any more, and it’s moving away from what it once was. Well I like to point out, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but is this festival not called Movement now? If it’s Movement, then it’s not DEMF. There, that’s why you had a crummy time. LOL!

  8. pipecock says:

    honestly, i can’t tell what the fuck they call it anymore. i guess the official name is “Movement”, but whatever happened to “Fuze-In” or whatever?! i dunno. all i know is that Paxahau have been responsible for the death of the big festival with dance music in Hart Plaza every year, and it’s not okay no matter what it is called!

  9. cerpintor says:

    Good report, pipey.

  10. hissnlissn says:

    Nice writeup full of bad news. Thanks for the heads up.

  11. m50 says:

    Welcome back. Bad news about the vinyl promos, but I guess that just serves to push the festival out into the city, which sounds like the direction things are going anyway. That doesn’t sound like such a bad result.

  12. kuri says:

    Great write up Tom. It was a pleasure to meet and hang with you and the Pittsburgh crew. Planning on getting my recap completed and up soon.

  13. cz says:

    Malik Pittman? That dude was around? Or, you mean Alston, right?

  14. pipecock says:

    No I mean Malik Pittman. I was chatting with him a bit at the Music Institute party. I did see Malik Alston at the Harvey joint too, though I forgot to mention him!

  15. Paulina says:

    Nice review! Thanks!

  16. damn good review. it is sad that after 10 years, this is what it’s become, but for sure, the real reason to go is to enjoy music, and spend time with friends you haven’t seen for a while. at any rate, I’m considering SXSW next year, interested?

  17. frank says:

    Ah crap. I wish you would have introduced me to Pittman!

  18. kenny says:

    yeah, i can understand why newcomers to the festival weren’t blown away by it, I certainly wasn’t last year, but it ended up playing a minor role in my weekend over there (though it took up the most time) so I didn’t feel bad after. Of course I’d have loved to have made it during it’s prime, but so be it. You’re crazy for not watching more of Rob Hood live though. And missing Timeline 😉

  19. I looked at the pictures from resident advisor. I recognized about 6 artists… The rest I have no idea who they are… Shake said it best “Like Sade says, ‘Its never as good as the first time’.” Better luck next year Tom…

  20. matt cohen says:

    >I looked at the pictures from resident advisor. I recognized about 6 artists

    this had more to do with access than the lineup. there were plenty of recognizable artists, but i couldn’t get close enough to shoot many of them. with a press pass.

  21. Chris O says:

    Nice summary Tom.

    For me, the sets of the weekend were Kirk Degiorgio and Mr. Scruff. My most anticipated set of the weekend was Mark Ernestus based on how much I loved the Rhythm & Sound set a couple of years ago; however the low sound level on the main stage for that set was criminal. That ruined his set for me and I didn’t stick around. I didn’t want to have to stand at the front, hoping to feel some bass. that was a set to sit and chill to, but my expectations were too high.

    The sound on that stage was s a little better for Recloose the next day, but still not nearly loud enough all weekend.

    Now the sound for Mr. Scruff was a different story. They had the same type of system from the Rhythm & Sound set a couple of years ago, and he used it to the fullest, and killed it. I could have done without the crowd surfers and the seemingly incessant line of people that decided that the path to the front was through me. The crowd surfers are lucky they didn’t surf near me, because they would have dropped…

    I checked out Marco Carola for a bit after Kirk D. I wanted to see him since I haven’t in a long while. Man, I remember the early Question records back in the day, and around that time, seeing him rocking it out on 3 turntables. Not anymore… Every mix was 1. kill the bass for a few measures 2. bring up the static effect to distortion, and 3. drop the next minimal bass line. 4. Repeat. Maybe the computer aided DJ=’ing has mad him lazy, but even my boy Chad (who is new to electronic music) said “every mix was the same”.

    The same can’t be said for Kirk Degiorgio. He worked hard on the laptop, sweating, and he never stopped moving during his set. It was inspring to see him rock it out. There was a small crowd there at the time, unfortunately…

    Chris

    p.s. It seemed like everywhere I went, I smelled weed.

  22. Mr. Twon says:

    Scruff’s kinda KILLIN’ it rite now. Ive been reaLLY feelin his records as of late. Great post T.

  23. Mr. Twon says:

    ohh btw, Big Big ups to Matt C. Really great photos! The C.Craig is my fav. Good work.

  24. Thanks for coming back to tha D again!!

    It truly is difficult to watch DEMF slip away year after year. The end result will be Pax focusing more on international headliners again to sell tickets for the next 2 years.

    The underground stage was horrible again. However, the vibe and energy from that stage and the Movement Torino stage were the best by far.

    I wish the best for C2. Maybe it will get in course.

    A piece of advice/warning- if all promoters threw a free afterparty with top DJs from Detroit and around the world, what would Pax do?

    Imagine 10 free afterparties going from 12p – 12p the next day, with solid line-up, with clean bathrooms, with excellent sound systems in all venues.

    It is coming down that…..and when it does…

    THE BUTCHER
    http://www.detroitfightclub313.com
    IT ALL BEGINS AGAIN……

  25. dr giggles says:

    This seems like a fairly harsh review and I hope it doesn’t discourage folks from heading to detroit for future memorial day weekends.

    Paxahau does have shitty taste in music but they have kept the festival going for years and the line-up was very good (or great) compared to most other electronic festivals this year. Look at Sonar for example, which has hipster-scum magnets LCD soundsystem and hot chip headlining and is guaranteed to attract an extremely obnoxious crowd. And the big festival in LA, Electric Daisy, is 90% crap outside of a good drum and bass/dubstep stage.

    There’s a number of good points brought up here, but it could be much worse (ie sonar in detroit), and the weekend always has incredible afterparties. Wish I had been able to make it, maybe next year.

  26. josh says:

    great write-up. I went to the festival for the first-time this year and I have bruised feet from dancing so much. I liked the marathon aspect, but it means you inevitably miss stuff. I didn’t have a car and I could see how that would be very helpful although walking around a city is always a good way to get to know the place. The downtown parts of Detroit seemed pretty ok although I gather the festival had something to do with that.

    For me the festival highlights were: Larry Heard, Cassy, Minx, Derrick Carter, Michael Mayer (his set was perfect for that weather) and Scion. Also, there are seriously good dancers that go to this thing.

    I am bummed that I missed Derrick May, Shake, Magda and Kirk Degorgio. Also, the Saturday Centre Street party got closed down before Levon Vincent and Daniel Bell could play, but Ben Klock and Reference were great.

    The lamest parts of the fest were the crowd surfing/mosh pit crap (WTF!), glow sticks, too many people interested in taking photos instead getting into the music (see also dudes staring into their phones while awesome dj goes off. WTF is this – I understand the need to SMS, but take it off the dancefloor), and the shitty beer. Also, if the sound in the underground stage is an improvement I’d hate to hear what it sounded like in previous years.

  27. Myron says:

    Movement definitely had its ups and downs ths year. I do agree that the musical diversity was relatively lacking. It would have been nice to hear more Deep House, however most of the Deep House DJs were playing Techno. That might be due to the crowd of young kids that dominated the Made in Detroit stage. Saturday was the only day I spent most of my time at the festival. I mostly spent my time with friends and making new ones. I do wish the pacing of the acts were much better. Overall I had a good time. Time will tell if I go next year.

  28. pipecock says:

    i mean, i think the tone of my review is to not support the festival, but to support the Detroit acts, parties, record shops, etc over that weekend. i guess i see the future of this thing being heavily decentralized if it is going to continue to attract real music heads. like the festival itself can be the draw for the uneducated masses or whatever, but it would be nice to see a better organized city-wide (hopefully with daytime outdoor action going on, since that is a great way to listen to good music!) festival that operates completely outside of the realm of Paxahau. this year i heard people complaining that the best way to get people to come to your afterparty is to be an “official” party. it seemed to me that the afterparty spots that i went to generally had a large local contingent coming out, which is why they did not have attendance problems.

    the main problem i have in comparing DEMF to any other festival is that it is not just a random location. this festival is in Detroit because that city has been and continues to be one of the primary hubs of electronic music for 25 years. the fact that it is becoming something that can even be compared to a Sonar or anything else shows exactly why it is pointless! imagine having a dubstep festival in London where all the big stages have like Justice and Moby playing while the actual local dubstep guys are stuck in a shitty basement. that’s the best kind of comparison i can come up with to the travesty that is what Paxahau has done to a great festival….

  29. Patrice says:

    What a shame. Too bad you couldn’t enjoy the festival. However, when you pick at detail it’s easy to miss the big picture. I am not challenging your opinion. Just calling it what it is, an opinion.
    The bigger picture goes beyond us. Things like budgeting, licensing, by-laws, weather. These all factor into what “makes” the festival what it is- from planning to execution.
    One thing to consider, Paxahau aside, is that this festival brings business and activity to Detroit. It revives the electronic scene in the Motor city. It puts money into the city, and the pockets of small business owners too. These points are also part of the bigger picture I’ve already mentioned. These things are as important as the music, to me.
    Have you ever offered your time and volunteered for Movement? Many people do. That is because Paxahau is 6 people deep Monday-Friday from June to March- then body count goes up, as do the hours in their work week.
    My point is that while I likely saw more glitches than you- I didn’t see as many. I saw work being done. Nearly dead bodies working sun up to sun down. I saw devoted people- you must have missed- making the festival happen. It’s extraordinary- if you look at it from that side.
    I want to mention the Underground stage because sound is an issue. However, it has always been priority one. My advise to you is, if you can’t party don’t take that ramp. Like, if you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen…
    The dungeon/Underground happened to be my favourite stage this year. The talent was great, and the energy is always busting down there. So this year I felt a great deal of synergy between the DJ’s and the crowd. Punisher’s set was a rage! I don’t suppose you caught that set?
    I think it’s ironic that you couldn’t bring your mixed tapes in with you. I received a good handful of vinyl from people like Punisher et al. Perhaps, that was because you had to enter through the gates on Jefferson? That’s a shame! You should have given them to one of those names you dropped, and had them carry them in for you. Simple algorithm!
    I think it’s really great that you wrote about… The record stores… which ones? You neglected to mention any. You did do some shout outs, so now we know you know people from Detroit. Cool.
    Your critique is not fresh. Your article says little about the talent, new talent, new parties, new features in the city of Detroit. In my opinion your article is self serving- their is no journalistic merit in what you wrote. You have written pendantic, elitist, gibberish. You have.
    Whether it measures to Coachella or any other fantasy you bring with you, consider the whole. Yes back to the big picture.
    You took strip out of the biggest electronic music event of the year in Detroit. It’s the umbrella to all things good on Memorial Day weekend. Now you’ve gone and let the rain in. 🙁 Next time call ahead, and we’ll get you into VIP for free so you can hand out your tapes and such.

  30. Patrice says:

    btw- above is not related to Paxahau or Paxahau employees and stuff like that

  31. heather feather says:

    Where is the love?!?! What I love about the festival is how everyone comes together for great music and no one is judging anyone..everyone just wants to be merry and listen to some dam good music…..
    I have so very music savvy friends,and I might not be able to call out a track and what label it was produced on , but if its a hot beat and I can shake my ass and hips to it I’m happy as hell!!
    I’ve played insurments for practically my whole life! Why can’t we just enjoy music for how it makes us feel inside and not have to me a music snob and disect it all the time till there is nothing left!!!
    The yel party was hotness, the old miami was more hotness, andthe hot natured party was a great end to a weekend of greatness!

  32. pipecock says:

    no one had “mixtapes”. i own a vinyl only record label, as do two of my friends who were denied entry with their promotional vinyl to hand out. playing games to get around retarded security measures is not cute, or fun.

    the fact that you saw great synergy between the crowd and Punisher says a great deal to me about what you expect from this festival: a rave. she is a rave deejay, not even a particularly good one.

    you might want to look into reading comprehension, as it was in my very first paragraph from Thursday when i said that a full post on the record shops and my finds over the weekend would be forthcoming. try not to hurt yourself.

    what is this talk about Coachilla? i compare this festival ONLY TO ITS PRIOR INCARNATIONS. not coincidentally, my major qualms with the festival have all started since Paxahau took over.

    i am only interested in the big picture for Detroit. a generic rave does nothing outside of a temporary economic boost for the city. shit, Paxahau could do that any other weekend of the year in any other venue under any other name, and not only would i not give a shit but i probably wouldn’t even notice that it was happening. the fact is that they do this under the pretense of it being about Detroit, when clearly it no longer is.

    if you don’t like my journalistic merit, feel free to go fuck yourself.

  33. pipecock says:

    having no taste makes it very easy to be amused.

  34. bernardo says:

    Good round-up… I’ll put mine up a bit later this week. Overall I still had a fantastic time. I think I was just relieved the Underground was at least bearable this year as I spent probably 80% of my time down there. By Monday though my ears were about to collapse. My biggest gripe is that its virtually impossible to play house music down there as the kick drums drown out any melody / nuance… As a result you get non-stop techno which wears thin after a while and really screws house-focused DJs like Rick, Theo and others. Hell, even Kyle Hall looked pissed off having to blast non-stop techno b/c the room couldn’t handle anything else…
    I’d definitely agree the Red Bull stage is the best one up and if we could get some Detroit action there the festival would almost be immediately redeemed for its other shortcomings. The whole vinyl promo thing though is ridiculously wack…wtf! That’s just not right!

  35. I was not criticizing the photographer, I was simply saying that the people that I am interested in are not very well represented…

  36. kenny says:

    In terms of the city’s economy did the festival pre-paxahau offer the city anything more than a temporary boost either though?

  37. matt cohen says:

    >the people that I am interested in are not very well represented…

    and i explained why, access.
    a combination of pax’s absurd “credential everyone and then figure out how to manage them” media policy, cranky stage managers on 3/5 stages, and the artists’ own often bizarre restrictions.

  38. and the fact that they booked a lot of people I am not interested in…

  39. pipecock says:

    i’m talking about something more important than the temporary economic boost in the higher profile of Detroit’s local artists. look at RA’s DEMF oral history and check out how many people were talking about their families and friends finally getting to see what it is like for them to play in Europe and shit like that! the record business alone used to be crazy over that weekend for Detroit labels, that has been slowly dying off due to the type of people showing up for the festival.

  40. detroitio says:

    +1 on Degiorgio rocking out and the constant and persistent smell of weed. we must’ve had the same guy walking around and lighting up behind us 😉

  41. Mr. Twon says:

    WHOA. speaking of electric daisy… WTF. Just be thankfull DEMF has not turned into this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u-vmk9iapQ

  42. pipecock says:

    MI has medical MJ now, I saw cops checking people for their card saying they can smoke. Wild.

  43. having no knowledge about Detroit’s electronic music history and no taste makes it very easy to be amused.

  44. ballyhoo says:

    “taste” is a red herring. the tenable argument is what it means to be passionate about detroit’s musical history and questioning whether the festival is still meaningful to that extent.

  45. pipecock says:

    the thing is, i don’t expect EVERYONE to already know about detroit’s electronic music history and to be passionate about it. that isn’t gonna be the reality. but you need people who are looking for something a little bit deeper, someone who isn’t just gonna be entertained by whatever nonsense is thrown on stage. at this point, Paxahau is catering to the lowest-common-denominator almost exclusively! these people would have as much fun at a Dave Matthews Band show, or a Jimmy Buffet show. what was great about DEMF in the past is that it was just putting the good, real shit out there, and it was received amazingly. there was no need to dumb it down to sell tickets to morons! random people from the city (and elsewhere of course!) were there getting down just as hard as all the worldwide Detroit nerds who flew in en masse to get an experience they couldn’t get elsewhere. of course, the music overall was much more soulful in nature at that time, even though there was always some representation of the more mainstream/ravey end of things.

    what it boils down to for me is this: do i REALLY want to go to a festival where a large number of people think that Booka Shade is something to give a shit about? the answer to that is “not really”! it used to be that that kind of music was in the minority, and the kind of people who dug it were in the minority. if you don’t want to call it “taste” that’s fine, but i don’t know what else you can call it.

  46. ballyhoo says:

    true, if you were to put detroit acts on the main stage, i wouldn’t doubt laypeople would appreciate it as much as booka shade if not more. certain people are going to have a good time regardless.

    but if i were to substitute red hot chili peppers with dave matthews band in your argument, you get the same dynamic of the mainstream/populism subsuming the local, but only this time it’s a band you (pipecock) like, so would you be okay with it? tastewise, you probably wouldn’t have much of an issue, but in principle, you’re wise enough to know they have little to do with detroit, let alone electronic music.

    at this point, electronic music is well established to the point where there’s little mystique or novelty. this is where i think your argument about “all the worldwide Detroit nerds who flew in en masse to get an experience they couldn’t get elsewhere” is still valid, but doesn’t have as much steam as before. we don’t live in those times anymore. anyone, practically anywhere, can get their detroit fix on regular basis. the question is, why come to detroit, the geographic center of a bigass country when you know wilhite or theo is coming to your town next month?

    i’ve never been to detroit, and part of the reason is because this weekend i’ll be seeing huckaby and rick wade here in my town. if i were to go to detroit, it would be because it’s a fascinating city from an architectural and urban perspective with a shitload of unique record stores, and i’ve never rollerskated to moodymann or went to afterparties with such ridiculous lineups. you’re not going to get these things anywhere else.

    i think we can push the argument without resorting to insults like “dumbing things down to sell tickets to morons”. that’s pretentious, and to me, isn’t in the spirit of open-mindedness that’s essential to this type of music.

    it seems to me where your argument is at its best is how we can support detroit’s music infrastructure, whether that’s putting the local artists front and center (if that’s ghostly, derrick may, carl craig – whoever who makes a contributions to the region, regardless of who you or i think is good or sucks), getting people with special products (records) face-to-face with customers, and ensuring local events won’t get shut down, instead of promoting mindless tourism and cheap, loud (maybe not so this year) thrills.

    anyways, keep fighting the good fight.

  47. […] some good music at the festival and even more at the after parties that we attended. The husband has a good round-up of the music that we saw/heard/got down to while we were there. Not surprisingly, his criticism of […]

  48. Adam Vana says:

    “what it boils down to for me is this: do i REALLY want to go to a festival where a large number of people think that Booka Shade is something to give a shit about? the answer to that is “not really”! it used to be that that kind of music was in the minority, and the kind of people who dug it were in the minority. if you don’t want to call it “taste” that’s fine, but i don’t know what else you can call it.”

    Ok – I am a huge fan of Kirk DeGiorgio as well, and a self-professed “head” (and probably a snob at times too) – but why should “people” give a shit about him any more than Booka Shade, or Dave Matthews? I’d like to hear your reasoning here – is it political? cultural? What defines ‘importance’ for you? It seems to me that everything you’re railing against comes down to taste, so let’s just call it what it is and not judge others for what they choose to find important or interesting.

    As far as representing local detroit, discouraging people from attending the festival with a review that is bitter and elitist doesn’t seem like the best way to encourage people to check out the locals either, while they’re in detroit. Let the festival be the ‘gateway drug’ . Let these “masses” stumble into an afterparty and hear D-Train, Roy Ayers, or Arthur Russell for the first time. I started digging somewhere – everyone starts somewhere – you can only dig deeper. If you’re unhappy with the way the music is going, I think the best thing you could do would be to plan, book, and promote your own party with music and musicians you respect, to both cater to the heads and educate “the masses”.

    I didn’t attend the festival this year precisely because I expected things to be just as you reviewed them to be (i share many of your opinions), but I just don’t see that it will be fruitful in any way to rant elitist about it. I understand it as much as marketing and branding your blog and ‘voice’, but when journalism is all ‘voice’, i’m afraid it’s just one step away from entertainment.

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