Why MOVEMENT Detroit is like the PhD of Festivals
Written by Evan Cudworth
“Appropriately set in techno’s birthplace, Movement is arguably the best electronic music festival in the United States.” —Resident Advisor
Ok, please forgive the pretentious title. I’ll get to that in a moment. But first…
I’ve been unofficially preparing for Movement for 4+ years, ever since—as a naive EDM bro—I stumbled onto a side stage with Maya Jane Coles at Ultra’12 and asked someone in the audience, “Where do I see more of THAT?” They said, “Go to the UK. Or go to Movement.” Hundreds of dank basements and arid warehouses later, I finally feel prepared to make my pilgrimage to techno-mecca.
Despite missing the actual festival last few years, I’ve been fortunate to attend a few “aftershock” events (including a scrappy outdoor Carl Craig set at TV Lounge) that occur as DJs trickle out of Detroit after Memorial Day Weekend. And from all the info I’ve gathered, this is a “festival” that weeds out casual electronic music enthusiasts and deserves to be taken seriously. It’s a place where elite specializations meet storied institutions. Where people at the top of their field convene to defend their contribution to the world. And that got me thinking… this is kind of like electronic music’s doctorate program.
Now, most of us have never attended graduate school. But here are 3 things you must do whether you’re preparing for Movement, or preparing for your PhD:
1. Do your Research
Research is the #1 job of PhD students, and I’d argue it’s the #1 job of Movement attendees. While techn(o)ically you could show up and “go with the flow,” this is the festival that both demands and rewards a rich knowledge of electronic music history.
You can start anywhere, but if you’re coming in fresh I recommend these few for starters:
- “The Roots of Techno: Detroit’s Club Scene 1973 – 1985” (Red Bull Music Academy)
- “An Alternate History of Sexuality in Club Culture” (Resident Advisor)
- “Get Familiar With Detroit Techno: 10 Essential Songs” (NPR)
- (or if you’re too lazy to read) “10 Best Detroit Techno Documentaries Ever” (Beatport)
2. Be a Good Teacher
The #2 job of PhD students is to teach precocious undergrads, all the while drumming up excitement for a new generation of PhDs.
The same should be true of Movement folks. Share your favorite artists. Articulate passion for your genre.
Me? I’m a dark, downtempo dude. I think music should rattle our ribcages and tell an old/epic story in experimental ways. That’s why you’ll probably find me dragging friends and strangers to sidestep alongside these favs from my Brooklyn days:
However, I’m looking forward to catching sets from these artists I haven’t seen live yet:
But most of all, I’m looking forward to meeting some great teachers to show me their dancing dissertations and explore artists I have yet to discover!
3. Avoid Distractions
Your typical PhD student wears the same basic outfit every day, and can be found shuffling between commitments, talking only when necessary.
This strikes me as the optimum Movement attendee. Meaning: feel free to leave your crazy festival costumes at home. Dress black, dress for comfort. Act friendly but not obnoxious. Let music take the stage.
For example, here’s a preview of my #techno outfit:
Thanks and hope to see some of the Festival Squad dancing it out in Hart Plaza!