After a little unwinding and recovering from a weekend at the Techno City, we truly can not stop thinking about the wonders at Movement Detroit. Now, officially crossing off a festival we have craved for years, and it did not disappoint. The whole venue of Hart Plaza came alive during the Memorial Weekend and with a long list of over 115+ artists to see, we allowed the city to take us in and show us where we should be.
Before stepping into the Movement Detroit grounds – Day 0
Over the years, we’ve heard from friends that the word of how special Movement is to Detroit is always spread amongst the festival-goers. While on a delay from our flight into Detroit, we noticed some fellow festival-goers eagerly waiting for the gate doors to open. A veteran wearing Movement merch caught their eyes and began to chat about the music and culture in Detroit. While they gleefully discuss, another veteran of Movement approached them. This veteran began to explain how much respect there is for the festival, from the attendees to the artists; that Movement is a festival truly about the culture of techno music, and these newcomers are going to see it first-hand. Hearing all of this elevated the excitement for the whole weekend!
Let the festivities begin at Movement – Day 1
Upon passing through the gates, the electricity in the air zapped through everyone. While walking along the paths, noticing the cheerful smiles among groups and individuals meeting up with friends at the central entrance. The first day became a day of mainly exploring the festival grounds and getting a better understanding of what it means to be inside the Techno City. Immediately, we see the warm greeting of the postcard-style photo opportunity where everyone can go and take pictures with their friends. As we slowly walked forward, we could choose to immerse ourselves at the Detroit Stage, where a ton of emerging and rising Detroit stars perform, or head over to the Stargate Stage which also leads to the vendors and toward the VIP area.
Continuing on the adventure, we saw all the vendors, from the official merch booth, DanceSafe, local Detroit merch vendors, Roland, Sweetwater, and many more; this area became a great central hub where everyone could shop. Here, we caught a glimpse of the iconic architectural sculpture in the center of Hart Plaza. Our adventure mainly began at the Pyramid Stage, witnessing a bucket list artist of ours: TSHA. The crowd trickled in throughout the duration of her set, and the crowd’s mood began rising to an all-time high in good vibes. With the stage filling, bubbles flying, and smiles across everyone’s faces, this became a pivotal moment – Movement Detroit is in full motion.
A lot of ground to cover and many wonders to see!
Throughout the second half of the day, the genre diversity was a beauty of the festival’s curation. Over the course of a few hours, we caught: some jersey club love from UNIIQU3; the chill persona of Zeds Dead, Altered States‘ sunset set; some Nashville rap from Three 6 Mafia. As the joyful music tastemakers we have become over the years, seeing this multitude of artists on day one was refreshing. With different energies in the crowds, and capturing small glimpses of stages throughout the festival ground like The Underground and Stargate Stage, we participated in only a small portion of Movement’s total offerings.
Although it’s primarily a house and techno festival, getting some drum and bass from an unexpected Basement Jaxx (DJ Set) in the end on the Movement Stage was an unexpected treat. The bass scene never seems to truly leave us wherever we go, but it was a nice adrenaline boost for the final hour of the first day. There was still plenty to encounter for the remaining days of Movement, but thus far, we couldn’t be happier to be in Detroit!
Got the hang of it, let’s see where the vibes take us – Day 2
The second day was a day to explore without any real agenda – the beauty of wandering through a festival for the first time.
The second day was our chance to feel the energy of the crowd and dance wherever we like. This time, we began exploring the stages we did not get to fully enjoy on the first day. Starting off at the Stargate Stage, Melé brought those luscious beats and sunkissed vibrations into the air. As the temperature rose, it became time to make our way to the Waterfront Stage and cool ourselves off with the river breeze. After arriving, we caught a moment of Mister Joshooa‘s set as we let the brisk air cool us off.
After a brief stint away from the sun under the trees, it was time to escape to the stage we’d been craving to spend more time at: the Underground Stage. On our way there, the art within the tunnels had grown, now featuring charming or cheeky sayings for festival-goers heading underground. We approached, immediately feeling the thumping bass send vibrations through our bodies. Although we were escaping the heat from the sun, this time we immersed ourselves in a different kind of heat. The humidity underneath could be felt instantly. People constantly dropped remarks on this stage being a place for anyone that craved an authentic techno experience. We allowed the environment to fully absorb us, feeling the sweat drip from our temples.
Without hesitation, some of our favorite sets of the weekend arose!
An artist we weren’t too familiar with, Lindsey Herbert, ensured a thundering and hypnotic environment. She captured the essence of techno, giving everyone at this stage a sense of freedom to be themselves, and to escape the worries of the overworld. After getting our much-needed dose of techno, we went back to our favorite stage to cool off: the Waterfront Stage. This time, we were unaware of who we were about to watch perform.
But throughout the cries of the electronic scene, the message was simple, “Don’t miss Ben UFO.”
Ben UFO started off with something out of the ordinary – bringing the grimy darkness of techno, but meshing it with these iridescent synths. As his set went on, we fell further through a sci-fi wormhole into this matrix-esque environment. Once his set was finished, time flew by, and came on another extraordinary surprise, the artist Special Request. Then, Movement crowd emerged and swarmed the stage in order to witness this set. Special Request gave us a seamless transition between the two artists by starting off with similar vibes as Ben UFO, but then transformed his set into a thrilling combination of genres from UKG, drum n bass, techno, and house.
Time to jam the most of the Movement experience one last time – Day 3
The last day arrived quicker than expected. At this point, we can no longer be considered “novices” of this festival. We did, however, have to fight the clock by 6:30 pm on this particular day, due to the many scheduling conflicts between artists we wanted to see. Before then, we had a brief moment to take in all the sincerity of the festival before everyone went into hyper mode. We began with the mysterious and wonderful Underground Stage, where LSDXOXO brought the intensity levels to an all-time high. During this set, the stage already was filling up from side to side. After elevating our heart rates with some much-needed techno, it was time to catch a glimpse of a favorite artist of ours: Mija.
Mija brought her stellar DJ skills to a special VIP birthday party, capturing the essence of exactly what the attendees were craving. After catching only a small portion of her set, the huge marathon ahead of us began.
The biggest scheduling dispute was between DJ Seinfeld, Rebūke, Sara Landry, and Bonobo–who were all performing at the same time, at different ends of the festival. Despite the huge conflicts, Movement was an opportunity to witness a couple of artists that don’t tend to make their way to our state, ever – including Rebūke and Sara Landry. Both gave different atmospheres of acid-house. There were euphoric vibes amongst the crowd at the Pyramid Stage during the first half of Rebūke’s set. Later, Sara Landry hypnotized the spirits in the depths of The Underground Stage during the second half of her set.
Closing out the festival with some memorable moments!
We closed out the festival with the moment we were waiting for: seeing the legendary duo, Underworld.
After staying at the Movement Stage through Skrillex, the crowd slowly dispersed to the other stages to see Kaskade and Fisher. But, we kept the same open mentality as earlier in the day, and stayed for their set, as seeing Underworld live is not an opportunity that we’ve had until now. We were not disappointed from the second that Underworld stepped on stage. The audience was swaying and singing in unison; there was a sense of friendship that grew between strangers in the crowd. The essence of this experience was love and unity.
Underworld placed everyone into a perfect trance. The fog around the stage floor disguised the veteran artists in mystery, making the music the main focus of the event. The luscious sonics, shuttering bass, and electrifying BPM brought the crowd into a cheerful glee. As they approached the final song of the entire festival, the memorable plucks from their beloved “Born Slippy (Nuxx)” began to play. The crowd grabbed ahold of their friends and screamed along to the lyrics. We got goosebumps.
Before we knew it, the building intensity of the finale came. Once the final chords played, all we could hear from Underworld and the crowd were the words, “I love techno!”
Then, came the end of Movement Detroit 2023.
Until next time – this won’t be the last expedition into the wonders of the Techno City!
Overall, our experience at Movement Detroit is something we will always remember. The city came alive with the love and respect for the scene that tends to get lost in bigger-scale events. While wandering around solo, the atmosphere of the crowds gave feelings of immense security and zero judgment. No matter what stage we were at, the crowd was expending love to all of the artists that performed throughout the weekend. Between hearing the gleeful “Happy Movement!” cheers throughout the crowd–as well as constant support for those who were shuffling, showing their talents, or dancing in the back–it was clear to us that everyone was there for the right reason.
Through this festival, Paxhau continues its mission of bringing diverse and authentic talent to the city of Detroit – and continues to gain the respect of all the attendees in the process. The Detroit techno culture is thriving. The love for the genre is felt in shockwaves as the attendees and DJs return home. Movement Detroit is a special festival for everyone that participates; part of the magic is that a piece of the city lives within the crowd.
Naturally, we will be returning to the next installment of Movement in 2024!
And if you’re looking for new music, keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts, or follow us on Twitch. Whether it’s the newest drops from all your other favorite artists, some old school, or underground—we just want you to hear it.