Saturday started off pretty nice for us. Went straight to Submerge and down to Somewhere In Detroit. Had a nice talk with Mike Banks. Bought some choice records from John Collins. Saw Ed DMX there. Such a nice way to start off the weekend. We headed down to Motor City Brewing Company for lunch and a Ghettoblaster, of course. Then on down to Hart Plaza. I really wanted to catch Patrice Scott, but I knew that if I didn't get to Submerge early in the day, I would have a hard time making it there later on. I went straight for the main stage for Mark Ernestus. Sound was weird and really quiet. It was actually hard to hear what he was doing and easy to have conversations with folks. I finally met Lori, the other chick from the 313 list! Proper.
The sound was actually disappointing in general for the festival. Things were uneven and inconsistent, volume and levels turned down often. There were other glitches as well over the weekend. The only time the sound quality was truly beautiful was during Plastikman's set at the main stage Saturday night. Now no judgment to Ritchie Hawtin or his fans, really no judgment, but I was just passing through from Theo Parrish to the NDATL party. I knew it must be crowded in that bowl, but I had no idea. I had no desire to hang out in that. But the sound was pristine, just delicious. Each tone was so precisely sounded, I just felt like I had been let down. Knowing that that was available, but not in use during the day, and not possible at the underground stage, let down. The underground stage sound was better than last year, but not good still. They certainly put a lot of work into the acoustics down there with all kinds of panels and backdrops and acoustic structures. It was still disappointing.
Went to check out Niko Marks, Kyle Hall, Martyn and Scion over the next few hours. Scion was just eh because of the turned down sound. They were much better at the Blank Artists party here in Detroit last November. And it was just exciting to see Kyle play the festival. His father was there to see him! The bit I heard from Martyn was actually disappointing. I was excited to hear him because I like his productions, but I just wasn't grabbed by his sounds.
After a bit of a break from the festival, we got back for the end of Rick Wilhite's set and then Theo Parrish. I had a lot of fun during Theo's set, but I think he lost a lot of people. They just weren't into his Brazillian/jazz tunes. Plus, Plastikman was scheduled to play soon, so that really emptied out the underground quick. But I like to stay where I like to dance, and I always like to dance when Theo is playing. So that's where I stayed.
I'd like to conclude this festival segment with the following statement: just because you're playing DEMF doesn't mean you have to play big room techno (thank you Kent Williams for that one). It is especially disappointing when you produce really interesting, even weird shit all year round. Please don't have an instantaneous identity crisis and think that you have to play to a certain crowd that you see before you. You are on that stage because of who you are, not because of who the crowd is. Thank you.
Larry Heard, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James M. Rotz
Like I said in the previous post, I enjoy my time outside of Hart Plaza way more than my time in it. The NDATL party at 1515 Broadway, the second location for the famed Music Institute, was incredible. Definitely my favorite thing all weekend.
Kai Alce, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James M. Rotz
And I have to say, after we left, I did say that was the best party of my life. My whole life. Maybe my memory has faded and I'm missing something, but it really was excellent. We arrived around midnight and got to hear much of Larry Heard's set. I had never heard him play before, he was just great. Plenty of old disco and garage, Adonis, some r&b. It was excellent. The club filled up quick. It really felt like it came near what the Music Institute must have felt like. I know, total speculation. But it was packed, no alcohol (officially), excellent music, and not all the same bpm/beat/tones/etc, and a generally dance happy and knowledgeable crowd. It was a sweaty sweatbox and I was at home. Kai Alce's set was just great as well. We stuck around for the first while of Theo's set, but by 4am, we needed to close our eyes.
Theo Parrish, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James Rotz
Theo played some lovely tracks, including some lengthy James Brown edits through which he had a great time EQing in his special percussive way. Picked up a couple copies of the special NDATL 45 as well. It's very special.