Movement Detroit 2017: Festival Review

By | June 6, 2017
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movement detroit 2017 cover

Movement Electronic Music Festival has been and remains one of our favorite festivals. The music is always on point, the after parties are plentiful, the crowd is one of the more experienced groups of concert-goers around, plus we get to see more friends on the dance floor in one place than any other. This weekend was great and we can’t imagine skipping an edition in any foreseeable future.

What we loved seeing this year in particular was just how many people were wearing hearing protection. Whether it was DownBeats or other brands, the percentage of people wearing hearing protection was at least in the double digits if not higher. While we do obviously love our brand, we also love seeing so many people with the wisdom to take an easy but proactive step to protect their hearing regardless of which ear plug they prefer. We started DownBeats close to five years ago because we wanted to share the message that using hearing protection makes for a better concert and festival experience, we cannot express how happy we are to see that message coming through to so many people.

Location, Accessibility, and Layout

Movement Electronic Music Festival celebrated its 11th year running in the heart of Detroit and its usual home, Hart Plaza. Located on the edge of the city and overlooking the river, Hart Plaza is easily accessible by foot, public transportation aka the People Mover, and by car. For the best commute time, we recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb within one mile of Hart Plaza as you’ll be able to take full advantage of Movement’s lenient in-and-out policy. If you have a car, you can easily find parking close to the fest for free on near by streets or in designated parking areas for no more than $10 for the day.

Given its rising popularity, the GA entry line was a ten to fifteen minute wait. For VIP entry, the line was drastically shorter at a 5 minute wait.

The layout has mostly remained unaltered from previous years. However, the Red Bull Music Academy stage was facing the river instead of south and the Made in Detroit stage was moved next to the large set of porta potties immediately entering the fest. All other stages remained the same, including the Main stage, the Underground, and the Pyramid stage (next to those large pyramid-shaped steps).



In past years the weather was generally pleasant with mid-80 temperatures and fast-passing rain clouds, but this year it was mostly in the lower ’70s, with some rain and clouds. Attendees should know that Midwestern weather can drastically change in a matter of hours, meaning you should come prepared dressed in layers with the appropriate shoes and packing a poncho can make a big difference.

Crowd and Atmosphere

Despite the rising popularity levels, Movement continues to attract a respectful and joyful crowd. From children (those aged 12 and under are free) to Grandma Techno, you can expect to see a variety of age groups enjoying house and techno music. We also noticed the increased use of hearing protection as we walked past groups of people who were visibly wearing them, largly due to Movement’s loud sound system. It was quite unbearable without DownBeats and having them was essential to continue enjoying the festival.


Music Highlights

Day 1

It was a sunny day at Movement and Detroit’s very own, Golf Clap, got the party started with their housey set at the Pyramid stage. Moving to the Underground and the highly anticipated Virginia native Matrixxman delivered his hard-pounding and spatial techno on a platter. Everyone there was awed. Moving to the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) stage, the legendary Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers solidified his DJ career with a fun, funky, house set. Over at the Pyramid, the word acclaimed Dusky were on the decks dropping some breakbeats, house, and techno to a sunset. At the Underground, Headless Horseman brought his relentless and experimental sound cementing him as the up and coming artist we’re all waiting to see him become.


Closing out the night, Richie Hawtin at the main stage and Robert Hood (live) at the Pyramid stage both offered a unique and rewarding experience. Richie stuck with his guns and played a house and techno set, while Robert delivered his signature heavy-hitting and exclusively techno set.  

Day 2

It started off as a rainy day and because of it, the crowd was lighter than usual. However, that didn’t stop the rest of us from enjoying the newfound space. Brazilian newcomer ANNA, made her Movement debut at the Pyramid stage with forthcoming releases on her EP. Daniel Avery had us in the palm of his hand while he played some acid-house and techno.  

Moving to the Thump Stage, Seth Troxler played Detroit house showcasing his house-techno roots, while old-school vocals dominated hiss set. Sterac at the Underground was an absolute industrial dream with heavy breakbeats and exhilarating techno.

Closing out the night, Dixon at the Pyramid played his signature of smooth and vibey techno, while Testpilot was having technical difficulties because of the rain, but managed to deliver a unique industrial, spatial and bass heavy set.


Day 3

Detroit native, Asher Perkins, started the party with a fun acid-house and techno set at the Pyramid stage. There wasn’t one moment where the crowd wasn’t dancing. Ambivalent was next and explored all of the techno sounds to showcase his mixing capabilities.

At the Underground stage, Rebekah performed a hybrid set showcasing why she’s another up-and-coming techno artist to look out for. Closing out the Underground went to none other than Ben Sims b2b Truncate which turned the stage into a legitimate rave that brought back memories of how a proper party was thrown.

The immortal Carl Cox closed out Movement 2017 and was quite possibly the best set all weekend. With his impeccable mixing capabilities, he drove the entire crowd into a dancing frenzy by upping the ante from house into techno.

The Verdict

The Music – 5 out of 5

In all honesty this 5 star rating is thanks to the Underground going back to its roots of hosting solely Techno in comparison to last year when OWSLA took over the stage. That being said, techno surely reigned at the festival, and rightfully so, but there was no lack of other genres including house, deep house, acid house, and everything in between. Movement surely heard our cries from last year and reciprocated with this year’s musical experience.


Experience – 5 out of 5

Undoubtedly Movement remains the best techno and house music festival in the States. The atmosphere is contagious and you’ll never stop smiling. While the festival in itself is nothing to miss if you’re a dedicated fan, don’t forget about the plethora of after parties that surround Movement making for a nonstop 72-hour party.

Value – 5 of out 5

A GA pass for 3 days was $150, that’s $50 a day. I can’t think of another festival in the states that continues to bring quality, world-renowned artists all for a cheap price; making it accessible to everyone! Also, as a bonus, you literally see the city of Detroit come to life with people from all age groups flocking to the mecca of techno in the US. The hospitality the community offers is unforgettable and will draw you back year after year.

Overall – 5 out of 5

Need we say more? Look, lineups will always be lineups and they will never please everyone, but Movement remains the best festival experience in the United States for a variety of factors that range from music to organization, crowd and setting and of course all the parties that take place in Detroit over the weekend.

If you haven’t been to Movement you should go and if you’ve been going then we are willing to bet you will be going again.

See you in 2018!

Photo credit: Tanya Moutzalias from Mlive Detroit.

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