Live review: Starscape 2009


By some guesstimates over 6,000 revelers from as far as Michigan, New York and North Carolina gathered under a luminous full moon to the 11th Annual Starscape Festival on June 6th at Ft. Armistead Park for 18 hours of music on five stages on ten acres of beautiful Baltimore park land on the Chesapeake Bay. Despite torrential rains that plagued the area for days before, Starscape enjoyed partly cloudy but starlit skies.

Had it rained, as it did in 2006 when rains of Biblical proportions all but flooded the early part of that year’s Starscape, Steez Promo & Ultraworld were prepared this time with tents for the dance areas. Despite scattered obstacles (technical and mud-related) which were overcome, production-wise they triumphed with a top-notch experience for the record turnout which was taken in by hundreds of bright-eyed first-timers who came to see for themselves if the stories they’d heard lived up to the legend.

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Guy Gerber’s DEMF Diary


Tel Aviv’s Guy Gerber is a force to be reckoned with in the DJ booth and studio. When Big Shot found out that Gerber was making his debut appearance at DEMF, we asked him to keep a diary of his trip to Detroit. He enjoyed himself so much that he can’t wait to return to the Motor City.

After playing a fun show with Save The Cannibals at Rebel in NYC on Saturday, I headed to DEMF on Sunday to close up the Beatport stage. It was an exciting prospect. I had played in Detroit only once before three years ago, and I was naturally exited and honored to have the chance to go back and visit and play the spiritual home of techno.

I’ve always heard great things about DEMF from friends like Richie Hawtin, so I was looking forward to seeing what changes they had made for this year’s event. What’s great about festivals like Detroit is that they give you chance to connect with your peers. Lots of friends from the DJ community all in a small space. It was really cool to catch up with the Tiefschwarz boys, Luciano and Loco Dice and to say hello to my friends at Innervisions. It’s always fun to swap some stories and have a few drinks together.

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Live review: Peaches at Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver


You know you are in for a crazy night when Peaches comes to town. Sunday night saw the Toronto-born, electroclash singer thrust her hips and then some in front of a sold-out show at Vancouver’s Commodore. The lady of the night glided onto the stage dressed in a pink pom-pom and gimp face mask. During the first few songs she slowly stripped away the layers while running, jumping and rolling over anything that came in her way. Several costume changes occurred on and off the stage—a floral, silk bath robe and hair towel; a white, Kylie Minogue-esque, gown that saw her face projected onto the wings for “Lose You”; a black swimsuit with an image of a hand giving the finger but pointing down to the thing in between her legs for “Boys Wanna Be Her,” and numerous leotards, XXX-rated capes and bling-bling chains.

Just when things couldn’t get anymore surreal, she told the crowd that she has cousins in Vancouver, and their names are Cousin Itt. Peaches was then joined by a  half-naked, caveman style couple with gigantic Cousin Itt wigs who writhed around the stage during “Talk To Me.” To go along with the naked theme, Peaches demanded that the crowd take all their shirts off and wave them in the air. The crowd were hesitant which seemed to offend the in-yer-face singer, but she continued to shout at them and within a few seconds nearly everyone in the Commodore was swinging their shirts above their heads throughout “Set It Off.” Peaches’ keyboardist must have felt left out as he followed everyone else by removing his shirt, grabbing a blonde wig and providing an awesome impersonation of Iggy Pop for the hit song “Kick It.”

To go along with the naked theme, Peaches demanded that the crowd take all their shirts off and wave them in the air.

Peaches performed songs from her new album, I Feel Cream. Known for her bawdy lyrics about sex (which are less prominent on this record), her voice sounded more mature than on past albums. When I stopped paying attention to the circus-style show, I could actually hear the strength of her voice and ability to hold a note. It made me curious to see her perform with no costumes or crazy naked people running around dressed in wigs. Peaches finished the show with what she does best—performing “Fuck The Pain Away” dressed in a flesh-colored leotard with a neatly trimmed pubic area and flashing white lights. She proved once again you can take the girl out of the fuck but you can’t take the fuck out of the girl.

Words and images: Lauren Keogh

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Live review: Movement 2009


It’s been more than two days since I’ve eased myself back into life in New York after Detroit’s tenth annual Movement Festival, formerly known as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. I’m not sure what it is about the experience that makes writing about it so hard. Maybe it’s my lack of distance from the event — the fact that I came of age in the Detroit techno scene in the late ’90s, the festival the culminating event of every summer for the past ten years. Maybe it’s the joy of revisiting the cultural space that once provided the only meaningful context for my young life I could find. Or maybe it’s the bittersweet satisfaction of seeing, no, hearing and feeling the violent outcry of a city that never seems to get a break ringing out from its damaged core, the specter of recent blows to its already ailing automotive industry casting an uneasy shadow over the festival’s vibrant lights (The General Motors building is, after all, adjacent to Hart Plaza. It figures as a vague reminder of the once great city’s ongoing struggle.)

Because Detroit has always been a place where one can experience, in a deeply visceral way, the sharpest of contrasts between life, death, anomie, and post-apocalyptic decay. When I first heard the sound of techno 12 years ago, stepping into a rave at the infamous Packard Plant, I discovered in those pounding, anarchic beats a startling palimpsest of soul and warmth — a warmth Derrick May brought back during the festival’s closing set this past Monday when he dropped Aril Brikha’s 1998 breakout record “Groove La Chord.” But yes! About the festival…

This year’s personal highlights include:

Steve Bug rocking the main stage with his trademark funky grooves
Derrick May’s closing set, which would have blown off the roof, had there been one.
– The crowd a spasm of fever and arms during Loco Dice vs. Luciano
Ryan Elliott rocking the Red Bull Music Academy Saturday
Octave One: ’nuff said
– Ghostly’s Todd Osborn and friends tearing shit up with a brutal mix of minimal, electro and acid house at the Blank Artists showcase (Saturday night festival afterparty)
Los Hermanos rocking the main stage with a sublime live performance of Detroit’s own DJ Rolando’s classic “Knights of the Jaguar”
– Ghostly’s Mike Servito and Derek Plaslaiko along with New York’s own Bryan Kasenic (aka Spinoza) of Beyond Booking throwing down mad beats at No Way Back (Sunday night afterparty)
– And, of course, Audion dropping dark, wicked grooves Monday evening at the underground (or Made In Detroit) stage.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend. Techno-philes, if you didn’t make the trip to the D this year, be sure to book plans for next year now. Hotels are reasonably priced and there’s nothing quite like experiencing the spirit of techno brought back to its roots. And when you hear the pounding rhythms of Jeff Mills’ “Steps to Enchantment” filling all the Motor City’s majestic and tragic evacuated spaces, you’ll know that your recession dollars were dollars well spent.

Words & images: J.Peter

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