Eight years into Detroit’s electronic-music festival tradition, the event seems to have secured its future. At Hart Plaza this weekend, the fest audience was younger than ever, packed with teens and early twentysomethings who seemed eager to stamp their own mark on the riverfront ritual.
From its launch at noon Saturday through Monday night’s headlining closing by Speedy J, Movement’s five stages were home to new adventures in sound, as an array of first-time fest performers nudged the fest onto new ground. This was the year Movement went mainstream, with flashy, trendy club music standing out in boldface among the more eloquent, classic styles that once dominated the event.
For purists, it wasn’t necessarily a welcome development. Not all was reflective and poignant, not everything transcendent. The musical romance of previous fests was often supplanted by a fist-pumping party spirit. Acts such as Moby, Benny Benassi and Girl Talk indulged their audiences with accessible, hook-laden sets, gesturing and cavorting onstage like rock stars.
No booking better symbolized the new Movement than Moby, the New York artist who has enjoyed electronic music’s most successful pop crossover career. Saturday night, he packed the Hart Plaza bowl with an animated set that shored up his old-school DJ credentials.
Movement officials said about 53,000 people had passed through the gates by Sunday night — in two days eclipsing the 2007 three-day total of 43,337. Monday’s attendance was 22,397, pushing the weekend’s total to more than 75,000.
“It was a musical experiment, and the response was what we were hoping for,” fest director Jason Huvaere said Monday afternoon. “What happened was, without question, a really defining moment. It was a risk, and what we’ve seen over the past three days is a success for the event and the performers.”
It was the biggest DEMF ever – but does bigger and more mainstream mean better?