3rd Annual Detroit Electronic Music Festival
by Grimace Virden
The third annual Detroit Electronic Music Festival scheduled Saturday, May 25th- Monday, May 27th is "celebrating electronic music - the world's most popular new music in the city of its origin." The first DEMF in 2000 drew over one million people from around the globe to dance on the city's waterfront. Last year, there were an estimated 1.5 million attendees. This year, once again, there will be 3 days and 4 stages featuring free-of-charge, non-stop dance music with performances by Detroit legends and internationally acclaimed artists that make this a true world party.
It is the largest music event of any kind in North American history. DEMF has also become a world showcase for up-and-coming artists. At the press conference held on Friday, April 12th Carol Marvin said DEMF was a "celebration of Detroit and its creativity." It has "captured the feeling of art, artists, music [and] city". It is cities largest event ever with the least security problems, remarked a city official. Carol Marvin commented "if you could picture heaven on earth, wouldn't it be thousands of people of every race and every age, lifestyle and style dancing together?"
Initially conceived by Carol Marvin and Carl Craig, the festival is in its third year. While other cities such as New York, Chicago, Toronto continue to crack down on "rave" and electronic dance-music events, Detroit took the progressive position of funding a three-year public techno festival on downtown city property. The estimated economic impact of the event in 2001 was $125 million dollars, and some have speculated that DEMF is more important than landing the Democratic National Convention in 2004. The first year included memorable performances by Detroit natives and international techno legends Stacey Pullen, Rolando, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Richie Hawtin among 70 other artists. Most of these artists had to go to Europe to become major stars. This was for many, validation of the 20 years of work by these pioneers of electronic music.
The second years' lineup included John Acquaviva, Doc Martin, Derrick Carter, Laurent Garnier and Innercity who delivered powerful performances as well as 70 other artists. The success of the inaugural year meant that in 2001, 40% of the attendees came from out of state, many from the Midwest, East and West coasts as well as from overseas.
The second year also saw an increase in afterparties which included the Detroit legends Underground Resistance, Tronic (NYC), Mekka (Toronto) and an event thrown by Richie Hawtin at the industrial-goth City Club and 10th Year anniversary for Carl Craig's Planet E label. The dismissal of DEMF co-founder and artistic director, Carl Craig, however overshadowed the second years' pre-Festival hype. This dispute has resulted in a lawsuit and countersuit, neither which have been resolved as of yet. Many said that not having Carl Craig on board would greatly affect the festival and that they wouldn't attract the same caliber of artist without him.
Others heavily involved in the first two Detroit Electronic Music Festivals are not going to be involved this year either, though few artists were invited to perform twice. Among them, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson although Saunderson is hosting "Encore", an afterparty on Monday, May 27th. Motor Lounge, Detroit club icon recently named #1 Club in America by Urb Magazine, will not be an official sponsor this year either. "We decided this year that is wasn't in our best interest to be involved" says Motor owner, Dan Sordyl, in a press release dated April 15th. He explained that Pop Culture Media listed Motor as a sponsor this year due to a miscommunication.
"We are incredibly proud to have worked with the DEMF in the past, especially the first year," continues Sordyl, "but due to a variety of circumstances, this year we are out." Motor will be open for DEMF afterparties, including the now traditional Sunday session with Motor resident, John Acquaviva. "John looks forward to it every year, as do we, " says Sordyl. Their line-up for Friday and Saturday nights will be announced in the coming weeks.
This year, in place of Carl Craig, a seven-member board was responsible for selecting this years' artists. The board members include Detroit dj's Juan Atkins, the "godfather of techno" and original member of the Belleville Three, Eddie Fowlkes, Kelli Hand, Mike Huckaby, Alan Oldham, Mike Grant and DJ Bone. In addition to the artistic directors' board, this years' lineup includes Electric Indigo, Dave Angel, UK techno legend Dave Clark, house innovator Frankie Knuckles, Mike Dearborn, George Clinton, Stewart Walker (live), Paul Johnson and Kenny "Dope" Gonzales of Masters at Work. The lineup also includes Marco Carolla, Roy Davis, Jr., Green Velvet (live), Frankie Bones, Advent (Live), Aux Men featuring A Number of Names (live) and first time ever US appearance for Dutch techno artist Steve Rachmad. At the conclusion of reading the lineup, board member Mike Grant said he hoped this would "squash fears of commercialism". For a complete lineup refer to: www.electronicmusicfest.com.
The DEMF website warns for those who haven't been to Detroit, getting to downtown Detroit isn't always easy. If you're arriving by air, keep in mind that the Motor City doesn't offer much by way of public transportation, so you may want to look into renting a car.
The Detroit Downtown Courtyard by Marriott is the Official Hotel of the DEMF 2002. They are located at 333 E Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. Reservations for accommodations can be made at 1-800-321-2211. Lodging is also available at Marriott Renaissance Hotel, directly next to Hart Plaza. The Pontchartrain Hotel is located at 2 Washington Blvd. in Detroit and rooms are available for as low as $79.95/night. Maxim Magazine recently rated the Shorecrest Motor Inn the best hotel under $100. They are located at 1316 E. Jefferson Ave. Their phone number is (313) 568-3000. With the current exchange rate of $1.56 (CAN) to $1 (US), you may also consider staying in Windsor, ON across the river from downtown Detroit. A shuttle bus across the border is available however a border crossing requires two pieces of identification.