Culture, DEMF 08, DEMF 09, DEMF 10, Nonsense

Why I Am Not Attending DEMF This Year


Photo courtesy of Matt Cohen Photography

If you look on the “Categories” sidebar, you’ll see “DEMF 08”, “DEMF 09”, and “DEMF 10”. Before those years when I covered DEMF for this blog, I attended every year from 03 on. Barring a drastic change in how the festival operates, that will be it for me moving into the future. I will still be going to Detroit this weekend: I’ll be supporting parties with Detroit deejays playing at them, I’ll be eating food at Detroit restaurants, I’ll be supporting Detroit record stores, I’ll be picking up freshly pressed records from a Detroit record pressing plant, and I will in general be giving my money to businesses and people in Detroit. But not Paxahau.

My beef with these guys is pretty long-standing at this point. I’m not going to rehash every single qualm I’ve had with their running of the festival over the years, but the last straws were last year when stagehands were prepping shit DIRECTLY IN FRONT of the Moritz Von Oswald Trio during their set and when the Detroit artists were once again relegated to the underground stage where sound and air quality are just not up to par. I’ve had enough.

There has been an argument that I’ve heard some people make for many years, the gist of it being that the festival is NOT about Detroit music, that it is only an electronic music festival taking place there. Looking back at the lineups from the jump-off through to 2005 or so, I couldn’t agree with that assessment. If you take into account the lineups from 06-11, I now wholeheartedly AGREE with that point of view. I am not interested in going to some generic music festival just because it is in Detroit. Especially when the results are more like a crappy rave than anything else! I loved the festival because it used to be a celebration of Detroit music and culture. It has ceased being that, and I have spent more time sitting around being irritated at the low quality of the music and the hassle of leaving and re-entering if I want to avoid paying crazy money for crappy festival food.

My mind used to be blown regularly at the festival; that experience has been declining precipitously every year. It’s not just me, either. My man Matt Cohen has a few words about his experiences photographing (for RA, XLR8R, and here!) and attending the festival that you can read here. Less and less of my people from all over the world have been attending the festival, including the dwindling Pittsburgh crew. It’s sad to see it all go downhill like this, but that’s what happens when the people in charge of the festival are more interested in being cool promoter guys than in the legacy of Detroit’s music. Carl Craig’s continuing association with them is yet another blemish on his already pockmarked recent track record. I hope that that money is awesome for all involved.

I do truly hope that this weekend remains a time when techno and house people worldwide can get together in the Midwest and hang out, even if it is primarily at afterparties instead of the festival itself. I can’t even imagine how much shit has come into being as a direct result of the connections made on Memorial Day weekend every year. I know it has been wildly helpful for me and many of my friends who deejay, play live, own labels, put out music, etc. Having this die off would be even worse than the demise of the festival itself!

Many people have been asking me which afterparties I will be attending this year. The only one I am 100% sold on thus far is Deep Detroit Vol. 3, this year’s edition of Kai Alce’s party that has been one of the highlights of the previous two years. This party has had the best vibe, crowd, and music, and with Omar-S and Brett Dancer holding it down with Kai this year there should be no decline in quality! Sadly it appears there will be no Soul Skate this year, I guess that will have to wait till next time.

I haven’t really done much research into other parties just yet, I’ll see what flyers I find on Friday and talk to my people up there to see what’s really happening before deciding. If you hit me up via email or txt message, I will let you know what I’m getting into on any given night! I’ll try to report back here each day if I can with plenty of pictures of whatever I get into in Detroit during the day as well as the parties at night. Definitely check my Twitter page for the real-time business!

Keep an eye out for the Noleian Reusse record on Love What You Feel in the shops, and we’ll also have copies if you need to pick one up. We may also have some other Pittsburgh Track Authority related goodies, as well as other projects we’ve been working on that will remain on the DL for now, so if you see me, ask!

19 Comments

  1. m50 says:

    Man, that Matt Cohen post is a tearjerker. Some really great shots in there, too. Thanks for the link.

    Have fun in the D, see you in Chi.

  2. Jason Rule says:

    No Soul Skate this year? That’s a bust. I’ll be seeing Moodymann at the end of June, though, so there’s that.

    I know I keep going on about it, but I am still insulted that Paxahau did not make any indication of some form of a tribute to Aaron-Carl. I mean, I didn’t honestly expect something like the J Dilla tribute from 06, but NOTHING? No mention of him? That is just cold.

  3. Phil says:

    I’m still going to the festival, mainly because it’s an interesting place to hang out and I usually see just enough decent sets to justify the price of admission. No high expectations here.

    Deep Detroit is on the top of my afterparty list too. Kyle Hall and Space Dimension Controller at Motorcitywine on Sunday should be a good party too.. will be following that up with No Way Back at Bohemian National Home.

  4. Kenny says:

    Soul Skate is alway only on every 2nd year from what I can see.

  5. pipecock says:

    I believe there’s been 3 in the last 4 years up until this year with the time you came the only skipped year.

  6. Kenny says:

    One question I’m gonna ask. Would you rather the festival didn’t exist anymore at all with the way it’s gone? It couldn’t survive in the old model and if it wasn’t on you wouldn’t have the chance to go to the city for all the other reasons you list…The city would gain little if the festival wasn’t on. Lets face it, Detroit aint exactly no.1 holiday destination in America, so the thousands and thousands who do come in woudn’t be there and the city would lose out on a huge amount of revenue that pretty much no other event generates within the city limits the rest of the year.

  7. pipecock says:

    I don’t buy the idea that most of these people are coming from far away for this. It’s like a big rave in the city’s venue and a lost opportunity to celebrate something that actually came from the city. I can go visit Detroit any time I want to, I’ll only go on this weekend as long as it continues to be a destination for techno and house music. The festival is pretty much no longer that.

    I think at this point the festival is no longer special, and shouldn’t be supported by the city in any way including use of Hart Plaza. If they’re gonna just throw a big rave, they should have to pay for a venue for that.

    I think that there should be a Detroit-centric festival that weekend. Smaller, outdoor, free events in Hart Plaza and maybe Belle Isle would be cool during the day along with the decentralized night time parties to go with it. The idea of a huge blowout festival is the part that wasn’t sustainable so ditch that part. Aim for bringing back the large international crowd that came to see Detroit artists!

  8. Kenny says:

    All the after parties and what not that you attend, people dropping new releases (i know this happens less now) the meeting of folk you don’t see other times of the year, it wouldn’t happen without it. If it stops, the rest stops.

    Your dream festival that you talk of is not gonna happen imo.

    You talk about how they should have to pay for the site. I’m posting an interview soon from a Detroit producer/dj and the festival comes up, and he suggests that it’s because the city doesn’t just give them everything for free anymore.

  9. Kenny says:

    sorry, in the last part I mean there is a ticket cost because it don’t fully come for free.

  10. Tom says:

    If I was back this year, I’d be at that 1515 Broadway party also, and BMG’s No Way Back pack one – Sal P and Carlos Souffront should be exceptional.

  11. pipecock says:

    the problem is that all these good things (new releases, good afterparties, people coming in from out of town, etc) are already CRAZILY declining from just a few years ago. this is directly related to the kind of music booked at the festival and nothing else! this is why something needs to change on that end or it is all gonna go away, whether i want it to or not. i want the good stuff to keep happening, but with no other infrastructure helping out that weekend, it ain’t gonna happen.

    if the city is charging Paxahau, that’s good. they started scaling back Detroit music involvement immediately upon taking over, to me they are not friends of Detroit music.

  12. Phil says:

    So apparently the Detroit stage will be aboveground this year..we will see how that works out.

  13. DEMF is finally dead. A long painful death at the hands of some rich, racist suburban white kids simply out to make some easy money. The last refuge for the Dance Music scene in the US has buckled and now folded. The line up is 95% safe, weak, watered-down bullshit. I can’t totally diss Pahaxau because ’06 and ’07 were two of the best DEMF’s ever, but it’s been a slide down from ’08 on and I can honestly say that after last year I saw this coming. You are spot on about all of your critique over the years, including this article. I have to say that dance music in general is pretty dead. A recent trip to Berlin last summer was uber-disappointing and I realized that the scene I once loved has faded into history and myth. Now all that remains is the memories, vinyl relics and the few good releases that find the light of day, but those seem to come less and less frequently. The scene has been burrowing it’s head up it’s ass steadily for the last ten years (starting with minimal and tech-house)and now it’s choked on it’s own excrement. RIP.

  14. I mean, seriously, there is almost NO Detroit representation AT ALL. Fuck these guys. This year is going to be a bust and it will bite them in the ass. They will realize it after it’s too late that the people REALLY DO want to hear DETROIT techno and electro, not the majority of this crap. The Detroit experience is what people travelled to be a part of all these years and that’s what sustained the festival, not their fukin “business savvy.” I predict they will lose money and there will be no more DEMF after this. Who the fuck is going to travel for this line-up? There are a handful of good artists playing the entire weekend, not enough to justify the trip and $$$ for most people, and nothing you couldn’t find at a single, one night event in any major city. I would be too pissed off about the whole thing to actually enjoy those few acts anyways. Casn’t even imagine the crowd that these acts are going to attract (if there is a crowd at all) Sorry, hate to diss my beloved DEMF, but PAX took something that belonged to everyone and are pimping it out like it’s their own personal $25 whore. Notice the lack of great afterparties, as if the soul has been so thoroughly sucked out of the whole thing that there is barely any vibe left even in the satellite events. PAX are excessively dumbing down their audience/customers and it is a mistake.

  15. josh says:

    I went to the Tech Fest this year and did not attend a single after party. Partly, this is because I am old, but it is also because I find that the majority of the afterparties are full of the same raver crap that you posted about being at the main festival. Also last year, my most anticipated set (Daniel Bell) was preempted because the cops showed up. I hear where you are coming from pipecock, but I also think that Detroit actually needs the influx of people and money that the festival brings. However, I did talk to a bunch of locals and a lot of them are in agreement with you (they didn’t see the event as a celebration of Detroit and the event itself has changed radically over the years: from the door price to the talent at the fest). Anyhow, I had an overall good time because of the people I met (just regular folks wanting to get down), but I thought the music was completely mediocre. Aril Brikha was very good, Metro Area were all over the place (they did play M.E.S.H. by Psychic TV though!), the local jocks were a mix of trainwrecks and classics, Ramadanman played a really boring set full of great tracks, Kerri Chandler started off awesome and then digressed into shitty NYC/trance-style huge build-ups, so disappointing, blah blah. I didn’t see a single headliner because they are all past it IMO. Margaret Dygas started out erratically and ended awesomely. Villalobos was Villalobos. I will still attend the festival next year because I want to support Detroit. It is the city that birthed the music I have been obsessed by for a good 20 years now. I find it deeply ironic that the unknown promise of technology so celebrated in the seminal Detroit tracks has now become manifest and turned into a shitty Twitterfied/Facebookified global blandness.

  16. jason fine says:

    when i heard they were bringing out bass nectar a year or 2 back that pretty much sealed the deal for me. dubstep @ demf? get the fuck outta here with that white hippy nonsense!

  17. Soul Skate 2012 will be taking place on Saturday May 26, 2012 – http://on.fb.me/soulskate2012

  18. Soul Skate 2012 will be taking place on Saturday May 26, 2012 – http://on.fb.me/soulskate2012

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