Time to take a look back at what actually transpired at the parties I so unabashedly recommended. The good, the bad, and the fubar.
Friday Night: Yel3 @ St. Andrew’s Hall
Despite the presence of many friends and some pretty good music, I could not for the life of me have a good time at this party.
Let’s get it out of the way: It was too fucking hot. Unbelievably hot. I can say without hyperbole that it was the hottest party I have ever been to. The entire venue was ridiculously hot from top to bottom, but the basement (housing the Spectral showcase) took the cake. It was beyond absurd. The incredibly warm and humid weather outside no doubt added to the problem, but there had to be something else at play here. The entire venue’s AC system (if it even had one) must have been out of commission. Even so, you’d think they could rent some big industrial fans and place them around the different floors. Nope. Nothing. Fans wouldn’t of made that dramatic a difference in this heat, but at least they would give the appearance that somebody gave a shit. I have no idea how the performing artists didn’t pass out. From experience I know on-stage feels at least 10 degrees hotter than off. I took no pictures, as my camera was permanently fogged up. I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without my glasses sliding off my face from the pouring sweat. My friends and I were constantly moving about between floors, wanting to hear the music in the basement, but not being able to tolerate the heat for more than a few minutes at a time. It was painful. The top floor, with Matthew Hawtin, provided some relief, but it was pretty damn hot up there too. Eventually, there were throngs of people packing the foyer, simply because it was the coolest place in the building due to the open front doors. That’s right – people had rather stand around in the music-less foyer getting screamed at by security than venture elsewhere.
Ok, so you’ve got it by now: it was too hot. What else?
I’ll get through the rest of the negatives first.
Too hot and looking for a nice, cool drink? Good luck. I had lots of fun standing at the woefully understaffed bar for about 15 solid minutes of melting before giving up. Luckily, in the basement, there was a secondary “bar” where you could get a “drink” quickly. I use the quotations because this was as much a bar as something you might find at a low-budget frat party. One of three available drink mixers was mystery juice in a soda jug with the label ripped off. But hey, it’s Detroit right? That seemed to be the excuse I heard a lot of people give. Sorry, I guess I had been giving Detroit too much credit.
There was a fantastic security fondle-a-thon on the way in. This was worse than going through security at an international airport during red alert. These guys went through every facet of my person. Any more and they would of needed latex gloves. I left the party a lot lighter than I went in, not just from water loss but because they threw out almost everything in my pockets. “We don’t even allow Tylenol,” said the guy frisking me. Are there really people that desperate to sneak in drugs that they would manufacture fake Rolaids, complete with sealed packaging? If that’s actually going on, I’d love to meet the people doing it. A friend of mine said security went through his entire case of business cards, card by card. Really?
A final complaint and I’ll move on to the positives. Many of my friends were having trouble (to say the least) enjoying the main room with Speedy J because his music wasn’t their cup of tea. Perfectly understandable. I, however, do enjoy that kind of music on occasion. I couldn’t stand that room either though. Insanely bright lights shining IN THE FACES of the crowd. Who the hell set that up? As soon as I walked in the room, bam, light in my eyeballs. Also, that was one hell of an overzealous smoke machine. It blocked out the entire stage, no joke. You couldn’t see anything at all. Did Speedy J enjoy twiddling the knobs through a dense cloud of acrid fog?
Alright, time for the good things:
Positive 1 – Good sound. Every room had nice, crisp sound.
Positive 2 – Good music. Despite the ceiling dripping with condensed perspiration, all of the artists I heard managed to play solid sets.
That’s it – and it was not enough to be enjoyable.Even though I, in a previous review, once said that the music should be the main focus of an (edm) event, good music alone is not enough to make a party fun when almost all other aspects of it are overwhelmingly bad.
Maybe I should have gone to the Beretta party instead?
On Saturday I strayed off my own party picks for a bit. So first up:
The Other 9 to 5 @ 10 Critics
So very glad I took the extra (terrible) cab rides and checked this party out, because it was one of the few fun and stress-free parties I went to at DEMF this year. I had never been to 10 Critics before, but it made for a nice low-key locale. A fairly non-descript bar/lounge on the southeastern edge of Corktown, 10 Critics consisted of one sizeable main room with a central bar-in-the-round (or square in this case), and a side room housed in an old converted train car. Admittedly, I preferred the open-air deck at last year’s 9 to 5, but that aside, it was pleasant to find that the same relaxed, no-hype vibe had carried-over.
As an added bonus, some delicious bbq hamburgers were being grilled just outside the entrance all night. Considering the frenetic schedule of running between the hotel, various sets at Movement, and afterparties leaves little room for proper dining, it was nice to have this option available just when real hunger might be setting in.
The soundsystem in both rooms was more than adequate and music from all DJ’s was predictably solid. Deserving of special notice was Mark Henning’s stellar live set. It was my first encounter with him and it was a welcome surprise. Unfortunately, as we already had tickets to Centre Street Social, we left the party circa 3am in the middle of Mark’s set. Sadface.
Verdict: Good times.
As it turned out, the party (one of many to suffer the same fate) shut down prematurely just after 4am, so I guess we didn’t miss too much.
Centre Street Social @ The Carr Center for the Arts
From the people that actually made it in to this party, I’ve heard opinions ranging from really good, to mediocre at best. These divergent opinions are all I have to go on, as I was not one of those people.
Since I can’t talk about the party itself, I’ll give a brief recap of what I did experience.
We got there just after 3am to find a long line down the side of the building and some cops milling about outside. Cops are always hanging around big parties and friends inside were still giving the good word, so we thought nothing of it. Some friends were in the line, so we hopped in and began the wait. After the line hadn’t moved in 15 minutes, we began to worry. I guess we got there at exactly the wrong time (I thought 3am for a party slated to end at 9am was perfectly reasonable). We heard rumors that the cops and/or fire marshals were going through the venue and as soon as they were done that people would be allowed to enter again. This continued for a while longer. Eventually some of the promoters came out to try and assuage any fears. At one point a few people were let inside, before the line came to a halt again. This proved to be a fluke. Closer to 4, a promoter came out and said that they had to turn down the music and it would be ok. This soon led to temporarily turning off the music. At this point it began feeling like a sinking ship. Most of the people in the non-presale line had already dispersed. Those of us with presales were getting very antsy. One of the promoters made the bizarre statement that we could come inside and wait and hour or so for the music to be turned back on. At 4am, the doors opened and everyone who had been inside was ushered out. One promoter then informed us that they had made a compromise with the police, and that we could come back and the party would re-open at 6am for Dan Bell’s set. I wasn’t buying it. After inquiring about a refund, we skedaddled.
Seems like after the several shootings that occurred that night, the Detroit police just had it in for every party, and decided that everything was going to be shut down, regardless of where it was or what was going on at it.
I will say that, after the fact, regarding the refund, apologies, and explanation, the promoters were completely professional and courteous. The night of, they did say a few things that were… perplexing, if not infuriating, but with all the people involved, I’m not really sure who said what or why. So although I was mad at the time (whoever was addressing the line could use some PR improvement) I can’t really say I blame them either way. I imagine it was a terribly frustrating and disappointing experience for everyone involved.
This past week, the promoters issued an official statement and explanation of the night to all those presale holders who did not get in to the party and instructions on how to obtain a refund.
Verdict: A Damn shame. It really sucks on all sides when things like this happen, but I don’t think anyone could of really seen it coming. I guess in hindsight, I wish I would have stayed at the VOLATL party, and then moved on to The Works (apparently the only place that didn't get shut down early), but I did have those presales... If there is anyone truly to blame, I suppose it would be the criminals who went around shooting people in Detroit that night, thereby spurring the police in to action (aka, shutting down everything). Despite the positivity that Movement brings to Detroit, the city is still bogged down by the overhanging shadow of crime and poverty.
Sunday Night: Voyage Royale aka I'm On a Boat 2
Initially, this had all the potential to be another great outing on the Detroit Princess. We arrived early, shortly after boarding began, and got inside in no time. The entry process was smooth and quick, likely aided by the majority of the crowd still being at Movement, watching the closing sets.
As we entered, Carl Craig was already pushing great music on the first level, with DJ Sneak soon doing the same on level 3. It always inspires a cheerful feeling in me to see world-class DJ legends passionately opening empty rooms, showcasing their true professionalism.
The boat gradually filled up, and set sail some time after 1am. Finally, the second floor opened up. It seemed everyone on the boat was waiting for this moment, since when it happened, the other two floors immediately cleared out. I was eager to find out how the musical flow of the night in that room would play out, so I left my spot in front of DJ Sneak and ventured downstairs. When the lineup had still been Ricardo Villalobos and Cassy, I had assumed that they would most likely be tag-teaming throughout the night. When it shifted to Richie Hawtin, Magda, and Cassy, I figured it would be a more tiered setup, with Cassy playing an individual set, and perhaps Richie and Magda playing together, since the sounds of Cassy and Minus don’t exactly mesh smoothly in my opinion. What I heard was… well, neither. As soon as I got to the second floor and heard the first few bars of music, I paused and thought to myself, “This isn’t Cassy… it doesn’t sound like Minus stuff either… this is… oh Lord no... it sounds like Marco Carola!!?”
That’s right, there had been another last-minute lineup change. It seems Magda had not arrived in time to play the event, so they had filled her slot with Marco Carola.
I was crestfallen. Although in the past I have enjoyed some of his work, over the last two years or so, I have come to loathe Carola’s music. Magda and Richie had already felt like a fairly inadequate replacement for Villalobos to me, but swapping Magda for Marco Carola was watering it down even further. If a set from Villalobos and Cassy would have been the techno equivalent of a Coen Brothers film, then surely Marco Carola is Michael Bay: all CGI explosions and no substance. Obviously this is just my opinion, and there are plenty of people out there who love Carola. This was evidenced by, if nothing else, the consistently packed-out second floor, and the relatively vacant floors one and three. It was amusing for me, however, to find that upon leaving the party, my friends’ opinions on the music of the second floor seemed to correlate almost directly with how intoxicated the opinion-giver was. If they were on the sober end, like me, the music was lame. If they were completely wasted, it was “OMG AMAZING!”
Apparently, both Cassy and Richie were trading on and off with Marco throughout the night, but even so, the musical climate was decidedly that of Marco. I caught Cassy tossing on a record or two, and those of you who heard me speak about her set at Movement earlier that day will know I absolutely adore her. Here, conversely, her presence went easily unnoticed. It felt as though she was trying to blend in to the sound, but ultimately it came off as awkward. I can’t fault her though. Her and Marco’s styles are almost night and day. Richie’s presence felt a bit phoned-in as well. After putting on the Plastikman performance on Saturday, and then a three hour set just minutes before the boat departed, he might of just been spent. I soon departed for the much more welcoming sounds of the third and first floors. I would check back now and then with the second floor in the hopes that it picked up, but no such luck. More trouble abounded when the sound on that floor completely cut out for an extended period (although the loudly-rattling ceiling while it was on wasn't so great either).
If not for the excellent sets from DJ Sneak, Stacey Pullen, and Derrick Carter, the night would have been all but ruined. Even the crowd managed to irritate the hell out of me. This time around it seemed to be densely populated by yokels who thought yelling “I’m on a boat” was still funny, a year plus after the viral video ceased making its rounds, as opposed to actual music enthusiasts. Yes, this party brought out the snob in me like no other.
The magic of last year’s cruise was absolutely gone, and as soon as the boat docked, I made a b-line for the exit. Looking back, the best part about the night might have been the massive and delicious $5 fruit and cheese plate. That’s too sad to even laugh about, right?
Verdict: Forgettable. I probably should have refunded my ticket as soon as I heard about the Villalobos withdrawal, but hopes that the other members of the lineup would make up for it kept me going. I’ve heard from several people that the ReSolute party was a bunch of fun, so perhaps that was the better option.
Monday Day: Need I Say More? Part V @ The Old Miami
What can I say that I haven’t previously said about this yearly endeavor? Great party, stellar music, excellent vibe. Generally good times all around. Musical highlights this year for me were Masomenos (although I only caught Adrien’s half – still f’ing amazing), and Matt Tolfrey, who I only wish could of played for longer. His short but sweet set, closing with The Gathering – In My System, was probably the most memorable musical moment for me over all four(ish) days.
There were, however, some notable differences this year. When we arrived around noon, the place was PACKED. Hands down the most people I’ve ever seen at the Old Miami. An inside source cited record numbers, with 1,400 people in attendance! Movement itself had record attendance this year, so I suppose it should come as no surprise that the accompanying parties did as well. Previously though, Need I Say More had always felt a bit more like a smaller family gathering. Luckily the surging crowd didn’t have much of an impact on the good times, although some of the bouncers seemed noticeably more aggressive in the wake of it (can’t blame ‘em). A blessing in disguise, the midday rain showers (which temporarily shut down the party) managed to clear out most of the fair-weather scenesters, leaving welcome breathing room for those of us that stuck it out.
Another indicator that this is becoming a more prominent party was the improved sound, with two additional speaker banks at the rear of the yard. There also appeared to be a small film crew (?) covering the event for a portion of the time. I’m not sure if the fire marshal convention (I counted 4) bespoke the party outgrowing its britches either, but any fears were allayed when minutes later I spotted them chuckling over beers inside.
Just after 4pm, during Ryan Elliott & Matthew Dear’s tag-team set (which seems to have become a yearly tradition now), I had to leave due to some personal issues, so I can’t be sure where the party went from there. The 4 or so hours I spent there were more or less the best of the weekend though, once again making Need I Say More the main thing that has my mind drifting towards Detroit every May. Some friends of mine are even talking about flying in solely for it. Hmm…
Verdict: Still pretty damn awesome.
Monday Night: Hot Natured @ Exodus Lounge
Ok, so there was a lot more disco this year (although still not in the very traditional sense). Even so, this party once again proved to be a nice mostly-relaxing wind down for the weekend. I say “mostly” since once again, the bouncers randomly decided to shut down the party prematurely, causing several of my friends some undue stress. I can’t remember quite when they shut it down last year, but I feel like it was a lot later than this year’s 2:30 end time. I get the feeling that if there’s another Hot Natured next year, it will be hosted at a different venue. I don’t quite understand why the management at Exodus would even agree to have another party when they constantly want to shut it down. It seems they weren’t completely full of it though, as there was a decent contingent of disgruntled cops standing around, looking like they wanted to bust the place, as we stepped out of the front door.
Another minor detractor from the night was the presence of a terrible smell, first mild, then progressively worse, on the otherwise wonderful patio. I think it may have been garbage wafting over from the alley of a nearby restaurant. It seemed to hit its peak near 2am, when everyone decided it was unbearable and came rushing indoors.
Despite these two things, I stand by my recommendation, as the party was good fun while it lasted, and certainly the chilled-out atmosphere I had been looking forward to. At that point in my excursion, I don’t think I could of withstood the energy of the unadvertised Richie Hawtin party – the other big shindig going on that night.
Verdict: Fun yet stinky
There we have it, a drastically different outcome from my picks last year. For me, there were obviously quite a lot of disappointments. I’ll be interested to hear if others concur with my assessments, or if perhaps I’ve simply grown more temperamental over the past year. Let us know what you think!