Dog Blood rules Movement's second day
Movement is a festival that can connect the dots between Juan Atkins and Skrillex.
Sunday at Hart Plaza, the techno godfather and the current EDM king were programmed opposite each other in headlining spots, and the difference between the two was night and day.
Skrillex ruled the festival's main stage at the close of Movement's second day with Dog Blood, his project with German DJ Boys Noize. The pair's rowdy 90-minute set played to a packed crowd that was as dense as that for any headlining performance in memory, with fans filling Hart Plaza's main bowl, the grassy areas around it and anywhere within eyesight of the main stage.
Meanwhile, a few hundred feet away, Juan Atkins performed for a much smaller but respectful crowd as Model 500, his alter ego that dates back to 1980 and now teams him with "Mad" Mike Banks, Mark Taylor and DJ Skurge. The four of them stood behind their keyboards looking classically cool as vintage "Hair Wars" clips aired behind them, silhouetting them as they banged out vintage, old-school techno sounds. "The future is here!" exclaimed the chorus of "Future," though that version of the future was rooted deeply in the past.
For Movement, the programming of the two acts felt significant. Skrillex last played the fest in 2011, when he was at the cusp of becoming an EDM superstar and the genre was forging a mainstream revolution. He played one of the smaller stages and put on one of that weekend's most memorable sets, and his graduation to the main stage on Sunday was an acknowledgement of his huge profile in the dance music world.
Movement organizers often shy away from giving main stage slots to crossover stars, but the reaction of the crowd during Dog Blood showed they made the right move. It was a lively, hard-partying crowd that gave the duo a rock star's welcome, especially when they dropped "Wild for the Night" late in the set.
"Hands up for Detroit!" Skrillex shouted to the crowd, which had no problem responding. Skrillex was the more animated of the pair, jumping up on top of the DJ table numerous times and hyping up the crowd while Boys Noize kept his feet planted on the stage. Along with a mix of modern EDM stutters and drops, the duo mixed in elements of Kanye West's "All Day," Kendrick Lamar's "m.A.A.d. city" and Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At?" rarely easing on the throttle. The energy level was teeming throughout, and after the group took a bow together to close the show, the crowd responded with chants of "one more song!"
Skrillex is a divisive figure in the dance world, and those who would rather have nothing to do with him found plenty to admire in Atkins' Model 500 performance, which catered to techno purists. His audience also skewed older -- not surprising, considering Model 500 celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, which is twice the age of many who make up Dog Blood's target audience.
Earlier in the evening, Hudson Mohawke's performance Sunday was so lively that even the cops got into it.
The British DJ was looping vintage Detroit soul samples, including the Miracles' "Ooo Baby Baby" and Diana Ross' "Keep an Eye," with raucous trap beats and mixing in bass drops that fell like 10 kiloton nuclear bombs.
Apparently the police took notice, because soon a Detroit police officer had hopped the barricade at the side of the Red Bull Music Academy Stage and was approaching the DJ in the middle of his performance.
Was it too loud? Was he there to shut down the performance? Quite the opposite: Officer Frederick Youngblood turned to the crowd, raised his hands in the air, and led the fans in a massive cheer.
It was a highly unusual moment, but the fans ate it up, and so did Youngblood. At a time when police tension is mounting due to several incidents of violence across the country, Youngblood was there to show the fans that we all — fans, police — are in this together.
"I was just letting the crowd know that we love them," said Youngblood, 25, after he came off stage. The 25-year-old joined the Detroit Police Department three weeks ago, and the moment was somewhat spontaneous for him, he said.
"We have no problem with (the fans)," he said. "I'm just letting the community know we're there for them, and it feels good to interact with everybody."
Mohawke's set was one of Sunday's liveliest, and he whipped up fans with his colossal soundscapes. Midway through his set — when he dropped his hit "Higher Ground," which sounds like Pharoahe Monch's "Simon Says" colliding with a Zeppelin — he dropped the sound out of the hook and started it over, just to tease the fans a little longer.
Sunday's weather was a little hotter and more overcast than Saturday's, but fans packed Hart Plaza's six stages early and partied hard as day turned to night. The ticketing problems that had long lines of fans wrapped around Hart Plaza the first day had been cleared up, and fans were able to dance their cares away on the festival's hump day.
Mohawke's set led into a wild homecoming party for Detroit rapper Danny Brown. As soon as Mohawke was finished, the packed crowd at the Red Bull Stage began chanting Brown's name, and he delivered with an engaging, energetic set that united the crowd the way his colorful T-shirt united the flags of the U.S., U.K., Japan and Italy.
Joined on stage by members of his Bruiser Brigade posse, Brown hit the stage and performed ribald party anthems such as "Smokin' and Drinkin'" and "Molly Ringwald" early in the set. He bounced in place, rarely standing still as he slid back and forth across the stage, soaking up the adoration from the crowd at one of his biggest hometown showings to date.
"Hi, my name is Daniel," he told the crowd at one point, but they already knew that. Near the end of the set, he took a swig of water and turned to his DJ, motioning to him to just play "whatever" he had in mind.
His DJ dropped the "Watch the Throne"-sampling "Dip," and the crowd went bonkers. At that point, they would have gone mad for anything -- Brown had them in his clutch.