Maetrik and Nicolas Jaar defy Detroit tempest to close out Day 3 of Movement
In what is now our second festival of the season with a major weather element introduced on the final day, Day 3 of Movement Electronic Music Festival was dictated by rain — lots and lots of rain. What started off as a light drizzle in the afternoon and early evening, quickly progressed to an all out torrential downpour but this did not stop many fans from braving the elements to enjoy a final day at Hart Plaza. The mood was jovial and celebratory, and for a crowd that was already feeling tight knit on the first days, things got even more communal in the inclement elements.
With his decks shrouded by plastic blue tarps, George Fitzgerald owned a 90 minute set in the late afternoon on the riverfront’s Beatport Stage. If Fitzgerald’s style toes a line between house and techno, he took advantage of the opportunity he had in Detroit to appeal to his heavier techno sensibilities, influenced by his friends on Scuba’s Hotflush Recordings. The last twenty minutes of the set were occupied some of his more recognizable records of the last year or so, tracks like his remixes for Close & Scuba’s “Beam Me Up” and Deetron’s “Every Inch” were particular highlights.
Nicolas Jaar provided one of the most memorable performances of the day with his much-anticipated live set on the Main Stage. Manning an Ableton Live controller and singing about vampires in Spanish, the black-clad American-Chilean enigma guided the energetic crowd through climactic peaks and melodic valleys in a dynamic and entrancing show that fully exhibited the unique artistry for which he has garnered so much acclaim.
Donning his Cajmere cap, Curtis Jones, who is also widely known as Green Velvet, followed up Ellen Allein’s punishing techno set with tunes that were a bit more jovial and animated than his predecessor, even adding in the legendary “Coffee Pot (It’s Time for the Percolator)” and “Let’s Dance” with Russoul.
While the weather seemed cooperative when Maetrik first took the stage, the harder techno alter-ego of Maceo Plex soon found himself waging a war against the howling winds and heavy rain that lashed against the stage and drenched all in attendance. Ensconced in relentless rainfall and red strobe lights, Maetrik’s droning and driving set took on epic proportions as stalwart fans braved the elements to enjoy the singular experience. With a towel draped over his head and rainwater streaming from his soaked Sennheiser headphones, the Barcelona transplant fed off his fans’ fervor and seemed to relish defying the downpour as he pounded the Beatport stage with uncompromising bass and signature phased vocal breakdowns. After he finally relinquished the decks to John Digweed, an exhilarated Maetrik described the set as “weird,” but seemed genuinely humbled that so many fans had stuck with him through the storm. Digweed wisely built off the vibe that Maetrik had established, playing hard and high-energy before guiding the crowd into the more melodic territory he calls home.
For those who endured the rainfall, Derrick May & Kevin Saunderson fittingly closed out the festival on the Main Stage, where onlookers crowded under the overhang of the Underground Stage’s walkway for a dry view of the Detroit techno luminaries at work. Although the angle compromised sound quality, there was something special about the spirit in the gathering crowd that huddled for warmth and resisted the storm together. While extending the experience into a metaphor for Motor City’s resilience in the face of economic might sound trite, it’s clear from this moment and countless others over the course of the weekend that Movement marks an unparalleled moment for a very special city.
Photos by Andrew Potter