The short version of what seems like the most popular type of fluff piece from the New Financial Apocalypse goes something like, “Look how fucked-up Detroit is; let’s hope things don’t get so bad that we all have to live like that.”
The city’s full of cheap symbolism–neighborhoods abandoned by humans to be reclaimed by nature, homeless people frozen in ice, the gleaming mass of irony that is the Renaissance Center–and its post-apocalyptic aura makes it a perfect subject for fear porn aimed at people who think downgrading from a mini-mansion to a normal-size house puts them just inches away from living in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
I only actually lived in Detroit proper for a little while, but I’ve had many formative experiences in the city, and I hate those kind of stories not only because they’re lazy fearmongering but also because they’re disrespectful of the D. Not everyone who lives there does so because he’s a socioeconomic hostage, and the city has many incredibly attractive aspects to it. The cost of living is phenomenally low, and as long as you aren’t killing anyone or setting anything on fire the cops could give a rat’s ass what you’re doing–which is why amazing things like the Trumbullplex can exist there.
The Detroit Electronic Music Festival is another one of the good things about the city, and even though its rebranding as the Movement fest and the corresponding introduction of admission fees has made it less of a class-crossing populist dance-music utopia than it once was, it’s still a killer event and an amazing example of a city embracing elements of its native music culture that don’t appeal to middle-aged white people.
This year’s fest, like the best previous installments, holds to an impressively broad definition of “electronic music” that includes everything from Bad Boy Bill‘s cheesedick arena trance to the blurry, fractured post-hip-hop of LA beatsmith Flying Lotus; there are also a grip of gotta-see acts (Afrika Bambaataa, Francois K, Ellen Allien, Glitch Mob, Kevin Saunderson) that fall somewhere between the two.
Weekend passes are only 40 bucks, which isn’t bad if you figure that the same amount of money could get you into maybe two or three club dates by any of the fest’s bigger acts. The surprisingly unskeezy Megabus line has tickets available for eight bucks each way. And like I said, shit in Detroit is cheap. You can probably do a weekend at Movement or DEMF or whatever you want to call it for less than a couple nights out in Chicago. I’m making my plans to get up there now.
Here’s some inspiration: the video for Claude von Stroke’s “Who’s Afraid of Detroit” (featuring images of people actually enjoying themselves in Detroit, as well as some DEMF footage) and Mr. De’s ghettotech/drum ‘n’ bass masterpiece “Sex on the Beach.”
Von Stroke video via Redthreat