I got home a week ago from what was once again a truly amazing time in Detroit. It all came and went so fast and there was a lot of other stuff going on, so I’m not sure I’ve had to time to think about how sad I am that it is over and we have to wait 51 more weeks to be back. Oh well, I’ll grow up.
We flew in on Spirit, having had a great experience with them last year. This year, though, I saw what all the fuss is about. Last year we must have had a new plane or something, the seats on this flight were totally cramped. Jennifer got up to pee at one point and I accidentally knocked some old guys seat twice (on the second time I was being careful to avoid it and I still knocked it anyway) who looked quite upset at me. So in case that old man is reading this, I am sorry that I disrupted your slumber not once but twice. Our flight home was delayed about an hour and a half. All in all I would still fly spirit, but next time I will probably pay extra for an exit row seat.
On Friday I continued my annual tradition of meeting up with my Ween friend Max, who lives in suburban Detroit, which we have done every year I have gone to the festival. We went to this awesome dive bar called Cutters and had a great burger. Later on Friday we went to Populux to see DBX and Stacey Pullen, not bad for the opening night. At one point during DBX’s set, I started talking with a guy next to me and we were both saying “ummm….we still have EVERYTHING left. This is fucking awesome”. The club Populux used to be a rock venue called Magic Stick, which I assume is a play on the name of the bowling alley beneath it (Majestic). I’ve been burned by so many after parties in Detroit that I was worried about how this would be….but it was great! They had 6 pillars in the middle of the floor that all had LED lights that went with the stage lighting. Sound was great. Plenty of bars, good beer selection, nice smoking deck area, I couldn’t really ask for more. Had a blast at this party and was happy that it ended at 2, last year we went a little too hard on Friday and I didn’t want to do that again this year.
Saturday we got up and headed out for lunch and to get our wrist bands, we left the hotel around noon. We took the people mover to Greektown and went to one of the worst restaurants I have ever been to in my life, The Parthenon. I’ve walked past it many times before, we went mostly because we just wanted to not be wandering. It was cheesy inside, with greek imagery decorations but that was honestly the best part of this place. Do me a favor and never ever go to this place should you find yourself in Greektown, Detroit.
We then walked to Hart Plaza, where our eyes were filled with horror. It was not yet 2:30 and the lines for wristbands was terribly long. Luckily I had one wristband on the guest list, so I went in that line, which took about 15 minutes. They let me step over to the will call people to get the other one, I would not have waited and some of my friends didn’t end up getting in to the festival until 8 or 9, and I heard tales of people waiting as long as 5 or 6 hours. The line was so long they didn’t know where to put people, apparently. I could go on about this, but there’s no point. Paxahau fucked up, and I hope this is the last we’ll see of the ticketing company they used, Flavorus. Major slops to Flavorus. I was already on the fence about this but next year I’m just buying a VIP ticket and that’s that.
The first day of the festival was pretty fun. I spent pretty much all of my time at the Red Bull and Detroit stages, with a brief visit to the underground stage for Cell Injection. I was very happy that the Red Bull stage had some artists I actually wanted to see, that hasn’t been the case in a few years and it’s a seriously prime location. That first day we sat on the grass for a while, gazing out at the river, listening to Kenny Larkin and Kerri Chandler. I hope they keep it this way next year. The best act I saw there the entire weekend was Octave One, who played Saturday. They closed the Detroit stage Monday last year but I had gone down to get lost with Jeff Mills, I’m glad I caught a good chunk of their set because they are REALLY good. Would see again.
Spent the last few hours Saturday at the Detroit stage, with Floorplan, who I enjoyed just fine but not as much as I enjoyed his set as Robert Hood last year, and then Carl Craig with Mad Mike Banks and someone else (sorry I didn’t catch your name, someone else). It was a really great set, I gotta say dancing to Jaguar, the classic Detroit song, to close out CC’s set, while gazing back at the GM headquarters was truly a highlight of the weekend. It was nice hanging with my friend Max the entire time Saturday too. He has come on Saturday the last few years, normally we hang for a little bit and then head our separate ways, but he followed along this time and as a keyboard player, he was loving Carl Craig’s set just as much as I was.
Went back to the hotel to recharge for a little bit, and then we went back to Populux for Carl Craig’s Detroit Love party. I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed by the surprise guests (none of whom had been announced – so I assumed really big names). The DJ who was on when we got in at 2 was so so, I had a hard time getting in to his set for a long stretch though. Carl went on at 3. He was wearing a tunic. It was cool.
I had not planned on going on my friend Grimace’s techno tour, despite it being a highlight last year. I just thought I could use the sleep. But our roommate Jenny took my endorsement of the tour on Facebook to mean that we were going, and we didn’t want to leave her by herself, plus Grimace was gracious enough to let Jennifer and I on free because he had already broken even (and I gave him a free wristband to the festival, fair trade I think!). So we got our asses up at 9:45 and made it down to Hart Plaza for the tour, and I’m really happy we went.
A few of the places we went last year, but many were new. Additionally, we had a lot more time at the Underground Resistance techno museum/exhibit 3000 than we did last year (it was one of our last stops and we were already way late last year) and to make it even better, we got a tour from Underground Resistance’s John Collins. This was a truly amazing experience. The rest of the tour included some stops to get out and see the inside of an amazing building (The Fisher Building, right across the street from the original GM headquarters) and some outdoor “art parks”, essentially blocks of abandoned buildings taken over by artists – graffiti and otherwise. I’ve heard about places like these, but it was really something else to actually be there. It was very inspiring to see them making something great out of nothing. .
The tour wrapped up around 2:30, we went to get some Thai food which was thankfully a million times better than the shitty greek “food” from a day earlier. Took a nap and didn’t make it down to the festival until around 8, I don’t think I’ve ever showed up that late. Oh well. This day at the festival was kind of a blur. I was really only at the Detroit stage, I went underground for a bit but it was so hot and sweaty even above the stage that I didn’t even consider going down the ramp. Ryan Elliott was someone I was really looking forward to, unfortunately Jennifer really had to go to the bathroom and the portapotties were extraordinarily gross on that day, so I missed probably half of his set. We ended up finding a dominos with a bathroom, and then peed in the alley, at the same time. It was kind of romantic. Went back to the festival and caught some of Matthew Dear and then headed back to the hotel as soon as he was done.
After a quick rest break at the hotel, we went to No Way Back, a party at a gallery and definitely the most unique party I’ve been to in my 5 years in Detroit. I could tell on the ride out there we were going somewhere different, we had to get on a highway! It wasn’t just another downtown club. We got there just as a bunch of Minneapolis people were headed off to another party. It was a very strange vibe, to be honest. It was confusing at first. I wasn’t sure where we were supposed to go. But once we got in there I was really blown away. It was crowded, but no where near as bad as The Works gets. There was actually a little room to dance, and it didn’t feel like it was a million degrees somehow. There was also a cool chill out room with some trippy music. I found myself watching a lot of people dance at this party…one of the many times I thought to myself “God damn I love all these people. They are so cool!!!!!” I also really enjoyed watching Mike Servito and Bryan Kasenic in the chill room DJ. I love watching these world-class DJs twiddle with their knobs and buttons, they are ALWAYS working on doing something. This party really blew me away in all the best ways.
Jennifer and Jenny were not comfortable there, though, and wanted to leave after about an hour. I decided to go with them because I was very confused at that point and I was truthfully not sure if I could find my way home as we were in a very unfamiliar part of town. When we got back to the hotel I regretted my decision a little and considered going back, but I didn’t make it back and later on I definitely was not too upset about that. I was bored so I trekked back out with our other roommate Carissa, who thought she could get us in to a party at the Leland City Club. She was talking with her friend outside, trying to get us in, but nothing was working. While this was happening, a big black Movement van pulls up. A big muscly guy gets out and looks around. I didn’t think much of it. Then Boom: SKRILLLLLLLEX!!!!!!
Everything went silent. It was like time stopped. Skrillex walked in with a posse of about 20 girls and Carissa ended up getting in with Skrillex. Even though that meant I was left outside, I gotta say, that was a totally baller move. I’m glad I got to see that! I tried figuring out how to walk the 4-5 blocks back to the hotel, but I was very confused at that point and hopped in a cab, but not before I saw some probably drunk cabbie keep an uber car full of passengers pinned in between other cars for 5 uncomfortable minutes, while yelling out the window about how uber was killing his business. Drunk cabbies have nothing to do with it. Yeah ok.
I started writing this over a week ago. I got busy with work and other things so I put it aside. As I write this, it’s about 2 and a half weeks after I got back, so the memories are not as fresh. But I will do my best to recollect them.
After I got back from seeing the Skriddler outside, we just shot the shit in the hotel room, drinking beers, laughing like crazy. This was a very good time. I should do stuff like this more, after parties are overrated!
I’m sure most of you reading this know what happened with our friends, their squirt guns, and some off duty Burnsville cops riding a pedal pub. Hearing about what happened made the weekend….unusual to say the least. I found out what happened Saturday night after getting back from the CC party. Most of the day Sunday, I was just kind of pissed off. I posted about it on Facebook and was super aggressive towards anyone who said anything to the effect of my friends deserved what they got. But as the day progressed, I knew I had to take police brutality much more seriously. Just posting about it on Facebook is not enough. I should have done more before it happened to people I know. I went downstairs with Jennifer right before we went to bed so she could smoke, and I was putting those feelings into words, to tell someone else what I had been feeling for the previous several hours and I barely got any words out before I started crying uncontrollably.
We couldn’t sleep that much, so we ended up getting our shit together and going down to the festival earlier than we had any of the days. I got down there around 4. After continued discussions on Facebook both pleasant and unpleasant, it came to me that I should write something and submit it to City Pages to see if they would run it (which they did, you can read it here). Once I decided that, almost everything I wrote came to me in full form, while I was at the festival. The things I would write kept running through my head all day, until I went to bed at around 8 AM Tuesday. It was very surreal. I always get sad at the festival on the last day, but tears were running down my face most of this day, and not just because the festival was ending.
Anyway, the festival was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. Which, I’m happy about because I want the festival to be a huge success and don’t mind them booking the mainstream acts for the main stage, but it also got to be a little too much at times and I ended up not seeing a ton of Minneapolis people, or only seeing them once or twice. Monday got to be a little uncomfortable as it was humid as hell, and usually the crowd is quite thin on Monday but that was not the case this year. We spent a lot of time in the grass by the Detroit stage, a new favorite chill out area that we discovered last year. One of the highlights of the day was seeing Nick Bjeloprovitch (I know I got that wrong!) up on the Detroit stage as he was helping produce the KMS day. Readers of this recap post last year may remember me mentioning Nick and having some strong emotional reactions from a conversation we had via text because he couldn’t make it. So a year later, it was really amazing to see him up there, being a boss man!
Just like the rest of the weekend, I spent most of my day at the Detroit stage. For a while I was dancing next to a dude in a wheel chair who had made his way up front. There are always several people in wheel chairs up front dancing, almost always at the Detroit stage. It’s amazing connections like this, being able to share something like this with someone who I wouldn’t be crossing paths on an ordinary day that make Detroit so amazing to me. I did go down to the Underground stage to catch a bit of Ben Sims set. It was really hard to walk away at 10:30, but I knew I had to. 2 years ago Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May played while Zak was playing the underground stage. That’s a no brainer. But I’ve been wanting to see them since I saw them at the KMS 25 year party 3 years earlier.
When I got up there, it was a serious struggle to get up front, even taking my usual side path to get to the grassy area. I had never seen that stage so crowded, and that makes sense because these guys closed the main stage 2 years ago. I hung out with Jennifer and some other Minneapolis people by the grass for a bit but then I had to try to work my way in. I did not get very far, but at least I was up close and right in front of the speakers. It was hard to see them because their table was right at the edge of the stage, but I had an amazing view of their bongo player Bruce, who Grimace told me is a regular guest of Derrick’s. He was extremely entertaining to watch. The whole set was great, even while they were having some technical difficulties at the start. It was such a celebration. I always try to close the festival out with a Detroit artist, the year Zak played was the only year I didn’t do that.
I was hoping to connect with some Minneapolis people during the set but it proved to be very difficult, several people told me they even tried to find me after I made a facebook post requesting their presence. But towards the end, Nick happened to walk over to the side of the stage where I was, and luckily he spotted me in the crowd and I saw him up on stage. We communicated via hand signals about how amazing the set was. I believe both of our heads were exploded or something like that. After a very difficult and emotional day, this connection with Nick was like a cannon of happiness. It took everything bad, put it in a little compartment to save it for later, and for the rest of the set (about 20 minutes), it was nothing but smiles. It really turned me around in a way I didn’t think was possible. This was seriously one of the greatest memories I have ever had at the festival, and I get really happy just thinking about it now, a few weeks later.
Luckily Jennifer came and held my hand as the festival came to a close, I’ve never been afraid of being a lone wolf at the festival, but that would have been the first time the thing ended without being able to hug someone I know. Phew! She’s a lifesaver! The bongo player Bruce came up to the front of the stage at the very end, his bongo had the Detroit D on it, and a chant of Dee Troit broke out, the first time I have heard that since my first year there. It was a perfect way to end the festival.
After the festival, we went back to the hotel for a little bit. I had been planning on going to The Bunker’s party at The Works, and thanks to taking it easy on Sunday night I felt as fresh on Monday night as I ever have. This was perfect because it wouldn’t be a real movement weekend without at least one visit to the Works. Mike Servito and Derek Plaslaiko were playing a b2b set for 4 hours, and I got in to the Works shortly after 2, right as they were starting. This was one of the most fun parties of the whole weekend. It helped that there was a big Minneapolis crew there, and I had not seen them enough or spent enough time with any of them so I was very happy to get this little victory lap in.
The music was really great, while there I decided I had to interview both of them as they are both coming to Communion in the coming months. In the several weeks it has taken me to finish this god damn monstrosity, I actually have already interviewed them and I am in the process of putting it together. Derek said there were some technical difficulties at the works, I was having too much fun to care much about that. I had a nice little conversation with Mike, my new favorite DJ for the time being until next year in Detroit at least. Check out this set from last year’s No Way Back, I have listened to it 4 times since I downloaded it a week ago.
Left the works at 5:45, didn’t quite make it till the end, but close enough. Had a little hotel party before finally hitting the hay at 8. I was actually very happy our flight got delayed by an hour and a half, we would have been cutting it pretty close otherwise. On the flight home, I wrote out on paper what had been running through my mind about the police back in Minneapolis. I slept for 13 hours when we got home, and the first thing I did when I got up was write it all up and send it to City Pages.
This whole thing weighed heavily on me for days after we got back. I decided I need to do more. A lot more. That weekend after we got home, it hit me that I think I would be able to help out Detroit a lot more than I can help out Minneapolis. This place has been my home for 31 years. It inspires me to no end, and even a month ago I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. But I have been heavily considering moving to Detroit. I’m not sure if I can change the world, but I’m pretty damn sure I can change Detroit. They have many struggles, yes, but the opportunity there is endless and frankly they are on the upswing. There was much talk about their bankruptcy, there was very little talk when they got out of bankruptcy just a year later. I am not 100% certain on this, and it wouldn’t be until late next year at the earliest…..but I’m considering it and taking it very seriously. I think and hope that it will happen. And when it does, I will make sure any place I live has an extra bedroom so anyone and everyone can come visit.
Well, there you have it. Nearly 4,000 words of street trash, and you just read it. Jokes on you.
Until next year,