Movement fest: 5 highlights of the techno celebration

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Movement thumps into Hart Plaza this weekend, continuing the Memorial Day techno festival tradition that has been going strong since 2000.

The three-day electronic music celebration will attract tens of thousands of fans from across the globe to pay tribute to techno in its birthplace, and scores of festgoers will party until all hours of the night at after parties scattered across the city’s club scene.

DETROIT MAY 28: Seth Troxler performed at Movement in 2016. This year’s festival will take place Saturday-Monday on Hart Plaza.

At the fest, more than 100 artists will perform across six stages for three days, making Hart Plaza a techno utopia for the weekend.

Here are five highlights from this year’s lineup:

Richie Hawtin, 10:45 p.m.-midnight Saturday, Movement Main Stage: Hawtin is a staple of the Movement festival, and he’s always innovating with his performances. This year he’s presenting “Close,” a performance that’s meant to demystify the live aspect of techno music, removing the elements that so often obscure the human element of what electronic music performers actually do on stage. Rather than playing behind a huge table that cuts his legs off to the audience, Hawtin will position himself between two production rigs, and open up the live process as much as possible to the audience. Many electronic musicians are accused of pushing a button and aping the rest of their performance; Hawtin is proving that’s not the case by bringing fans as Close to the himself as possible.

The Belleville Three, 9-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Movement Main Stage: Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins are regulars at Movement — pore over the lineups over the years, and they’re at most of them — but they’ve never played the festival together, which makes this grouping of the three techno originators a top draw. The group performed together for the first time in eons last month when they played the Coachella festival, earning raves for their soulful, human performance, even if they didn’t draw the same size crowds of Travis Scott or DJ Snake. But real recognizes real, and it doesn’t get much more real than the Belleville Three.

Testpilot, 10:30 p.m.-midnight Sunday, Movement Main Stage: The name Testpilot may not ring a bell, although the name deadmau5 certainly does. Testpilot is the techno-leaning alter ego of deadmau5 (which itself is the alias of Toronto producer and artist Joel Zimmerman), and he’s expected to make a big splash at Movement with this highly anticipated, super rare performance. It’s only his second official performance as Testpilot to date (following a set alongside Richie Hawtin at the South by Southwest festival in 2013), and the Movement crowd should be a safe environment for him to indulge in the music he loves without the trappings of his mouse helmet or the mind-blowing production fans are used to from his deadmau5 performances. This set should be pure and special.

Thundercat, 8-9 p.m. Monday, Red Bull Music Academy: The bassist and Kendrick Lamar collaborator (he won a Grammy for his work on “These Walls” from K Dot’s “To Pimp a Butterfy”) has a freaky album of funk-soul out this year in “Drunk,” which includes an honest-to-goodness collaboration with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins in “Show You the Way.” Noted for his work with Flying Lotus, a Movement veteran himself, Thundercat is known to make people move, and should have no problem doing so performing in front of a loose, party-hearty Movement crowd.

Rap highlights: Hip-hop and Movement have always had a positive relationship, and this year a handful of marquee stars lead the lineup’s rap contingent with headlining gigs on the Red Bull Music Academy stage. Earl Sweatshirt, the Los Angeles wordsmith and former Odd Future member, performs from 11 p.m.-midnight Saturday; the strip club Shakespeare himself (and Oscar winner with Three 6 Mafia, don’t forget) Juicy J performs from 11 p.m.-12 a.m. Sunday; and Detroit rapper (and Dave Chappelle troublemaker) Danny Brown closes out the stage from 10-11 p.m. Monday.


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Dog Blood, combining Skrillex and Boys Noize, performed at Movement electronic music festival in 2015. This year’s festival will take place Saturday-Monday on Hart Plaza.



Hart Plaza

Tickets $175/ weekend, $85 daily