Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A long weekend in Detroit [3]

This is my final post of a much-delayed report from DEMF.
If your appetite has been whetted, I'd like to recommend a couple of others - pipecock at ISM and kenny hanlon at bodytonic - I know, for example, they had a very different time to me at the Mills thing. And they're top lads with great blogs. Check 'em out. Meanwhile, read on...

Monday (Memorial Day)

The last day was always going to be tricky. I knew that I had to drag my arse off site by 7pm, so I could realistically be in the car and crossing the border by about 8ish, to have any chance of getting home at a reasonable hour to be functioning as a responsible parent for the next day and rest of the week (we'll just not even pretend to think work was even an issue - but a 2 year old is). And there's always next year, and the fact that Detroit's literally a drive down the road from ours these days. But still.

I knew I was going to miss Los Hermanos live - which, if the live UR showcase (Galaxy 2 Galaxy as a full band, etc.) the last time I was here would be anything to go by, would be a real kick in the teeth. Particularly in the light of how relativly underwhelming the day before had been on site.

At last, I finally get to see Flying Lotus after missing him several times in the UK. Holy. Fucking. Shit. Completely mental but totally kicking it. Finished with something that was almost twisted deep house then went down to half-step on a real Alden Tyrell "Phaze Me" tip. Oooof. No idea if that's a big tune of his or if he was just going for it on the spot, but a Movement Moment if there ever was one. Sun's been shining, great turnout, stages all close together so you can go and catch someone even out of curiosity - strolled past Ellen Allien as she was dropping LFO and cutting up Wee Pappa Girl Rappers somewhere in it all. Mental. Dennis Ferrer was pretty good, Carl Craig didn't seem to be doing anything ground-breaking, but maybe next year as musical director he'll get some of the duff aspects of the festival sorted (particularly the Detroit stage piss-poor excuse for a sound system - and the slightly patchy programming).

But it's not just about the actual festival itself. Memorial Day weekend in Detroit is about so much more. Catching up with old mates. Meeting a shitload of great new folk. Record shopping. Bloody great off-festival parties. Rooftop afterparties in Greektown with the sun blazing down as you realise just exactly where you are, looking around,and feeling there's no place like this on earth. And knowing you'll be back. Who's up for a meetup next year?

Monday, 5 October 2009

A long weekend in Detroit [2]

First, apologies for the delay between blog posts - real life got in the way too much this summer. Typed this up with a slapped wrist, promise to do better in future!

An early start was well rewarded with a lovely chilled set from Liz Copeland on the Beatport stage. Can't remember who else I heard for most of the rest of the day, as reconnecting with old mates (and new) from far and wide: Iowa, NYC, Rotterdam, Pittsburgh, Dublin, Atlanta - yup, people travel for this. And it really adds to the good-natured, sociable vibe that makes this special.

An early night was had, cos I wanted to make it along to the Omar S party the next day, which was basically one of the best things of my whole weekend in Detroit - lovely sociable vibe, top sound, 70+ degrees sunshine, and some great tunes from Dave Powers (including some top tunes I later discovered were his own - which will definitely be getting airing on Purple Radio) before Omar S himself. I'd heard a lot about his guy, and wasn't disappointed. House music can mean anything these days, and most of it ain't good - so it was a pleasure to hear someone who keeps the faith, and lived up to the buzz I'd picked up from many different quarters.

Innervisions live were pretty damn good, MK was very disappointing (dire sound on the Detroit stage), Wighnomy Brothers, on the other hand, were amazing - . Missed Octave One and Osunlade, but you can't get to see everything at these things, and apart from the terrible setup and unlistenable sound at the Detroit stage, it was all good, as they say over here.

Ended up that night at a Jeff Mills afterparty which was ultimately disappointing: waiting >30 mins so they could double the admission after midnight. So was fucking cold, $20 lighter, then stepped in to a not-that-busy venue with it banging out in two rooms. Great. It was *incredibly* fucking loud (even with earplugs), and hardly any real variation on an overall theme of bangbangbangfuckingbang. NFM, as they say on a couple of fora. Room 2 was equally banging (to about 10 people), and then by the time Mills came on, the room was packed and pretty uncomfortable to say the least. By which time, I was shattered, despondant, and wishing I'd gone to something else. Overall, a totally overpriced and utterly underwhelming event. Oh well. You live and learn (but I wish I'd fucking well gone to one of the house-oriented parties that was also on - went with the flow, and ended up at something that simply wasn't for me at all. You live and learn..

But fuck it. I think that was an official afterparty, and the promoters seem to be showing themselves as cash grab merchants this year much more so than previous years, from what I could gather (boat party was $50 - same price as the whole weekend ticket - WTF?! - yet sold out within days. Hmm). That said, it merely strengthens the case for checking out the many other parties in town, which have historically been the ones to check out - such as the sublime Omar S the day before.

Another epic win of the day was at the 'party store' ('offie' to our UK readers, 'beer store' to the Canucks). Michigan microbrew heaven, as discovered the first day I got here - so I stocked up as they were going to be closed on Monday (public holiday), and wanted to take some back to Canadia with me. Scored a couple of mixed cases, including: Third Coast Beer; Bell's Pale Ale; Arcadia IPA; and Arcadia Nut Brown Ale.

There's a lot to be said for the exceptionally fine ales you can get in this part of the world. And, indeed, some damn good places to eat in Detroit. Slows is incredible. This was another highlight of the Saturday, and one of my erudite and discerning buddies proclaimed they were some of the best ribs he's ever had. And he's not one to say such things lightly - far from it - so it would be churlish to disagree. Festivals in cities rule for this exact reason :)