Movement rocks Hart Plaza on Day 1 of 16th year
Detroit — Movement kicked off on Saturday not with a bang but with a steady, pulsating thump that throbbed like a heartbeat in the center of Hart Plaza.
There were six stages of music all running concurrently with rhythms from one stage fading into the next. Yet despite the varied tempos and differences in style, one sound seemed to overrule them all — the block-rocking bass that has been the soundtrack to Memorial Day weekend in Detroit since the underdog festival's launch in 2000.
This weekend marks the fest's 16th year, and it's one of the longest-running events on the summer festival circuit — older than Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza's Chicago incarnation, and just a year younger than Coachella. At this point it is a well-oiled techno machine, with a lineup that caters to Detroit's history as the Mecca of techno music and nods to the city's influence on today's dance music innovators.
Blue skies and glorious temperatures in the mid-70s greeted Saturday's crowds, who came out early and were ready to party. That weather may have been one of the reasons organizers faced a surge of fans in the middle of the afternoon, with approximately 5,000 fans buying walk-up tickets, according to organizers.
First-day attendance figures were not immediately available, but organizers said Saturday attendance was up over last year. In 2014, three-day attendance topped 100,000.
The young-skewing crowd came dressed for a weekend of dancing in Detroit, the flowing dresses and flowered headbands of Coachella traded for black T-shirts, candy-colored wrist-wear and all sorts of neon accents.
The stage set-up was familiar to years past, though the Red Bull Music Academy stage, tucked into Hart Plaza's southwest corner, was turned diagonally (with the speakers pointed toward the Detroit River), which helped cut down on sound bleed and gave fans more grass on which to dance (or lay down, as it were).
The Hart Plaza fountain, which was flowing all day, acted as a meeting spot for kids taking a break from dancing or just hanging out with friends. It's a good spot to stop, look around and take everything in: people eating corn cobs, double-fisting Budweisers, climbing into the fountain, spinning hula hoops, brandishing selfie sticks, giving hugs to friends both new and old. There were dudes in mirror-ball hard hats, Wu-Tang shirts, basketball jerseys, glitter capes, tiger stripe onesies and Metallica tees. At one point near the Underground Stage in the bowels of Hart Plaza, a guy dressed as Jesus bumped into a guy dressed as the devil. They took a selfie together.
Fans were evenly spread throughout the fest's stages, and Carl Craig's Detroit Love showcase on the Made in Detroit/ Thump stage was a steady draw all day long.
English duo Disclosure closed out the Red Bull Music Academy Stage with a 90-minute performance that kicked off with "When a Fire Starts to Burn," the lead-off track of the group's debut album "Settle." From there, their set bobbed and weaved to a liquidy groove, and culminated with "Latch," the smash single that features vocals from Sam Smith and became the day's biggest pull-out-your-cell-phone moment. The group's set closed with a final song that sampled Teddy Pendergrass' "You Can't Hide From Yourself."
While Disclosure was controlling the Red Bull Music Academy Stage, Windsor's Richie Hawtin was giving a techno tutorial on the Movement Stage to a packed crowd inside Hart Plaza's main bowl. Hawtin's minimal sound was accompanied by an extravagent light show, with 12 spotlights beaming high into the sky and forming a tight pyramid above his head. Hawtin was so in his element that his set didn't wrap until 12:10, 10 minutes past Hart Plaza's midnight curfew. No one seemed to mind.
Meanwhile, Wu-Tang Clan rapper Method Man brought his signature energy and cool charisma to his early evening set on the Red Bull Music Academy Stage. He filed through an assortment of solo material and Wu-Tang hits, including "Bring the Pain," "What the Bloodclot," "Method Man," "Ice Cream," "C.R.E.A.M." and "I'll Be There For You/ You're All I Need to Get By," and paid tribute to the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, Notorious B.I.G. and Jam Master Jay during his 50-minute set. Fans threw up W-symbols with their hands and moshed on command, and happily caught him both times he hurled himself into the crowd.