Since 2000, techno fans of all stripes have been making an annual pilgrimage to Detroit, MI for some kind of celebration: Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Movement, Fuse-In, and finally coalescing in 2006 as the Movement Electronic Music Festival. But through every name change it’s always been about the music. This year, disciples of the scene were introduced to Micro Movement, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that balanced the levels between public health and large scale public gatherings. Featuring an all-Detroit lineup of local talent across three venues, these limited capacity, mask-required parties gave fans a much needed outlet to let loose and soak up some decibels.
On Memorial Day, Ghostly International co-founder and techno heartthrob Matthew Dear pulled out all the stops for a socially distanced crowd at TV Lounge with a set that stayed true to Detroit’s legacy as a genre originator. Giving the decks a second to cool down after Loren and Jorissen went b2b, Dear started out on an introspective note as distorted vocal samples rattled off a series of questions. “You weren’t there? Where did you go? Why not? You weren’t taking care of business?” the voice says before being looped and submerged in the gently rising beat. From there the set slowly gained steam, as the 4/4 beat went through a series of costume changes taking on elements of acid, disco, and dub, before finally hitting a zenith when DJ Assault’s “Tear the Club Up” dropped in like a party crasher.
A good DJ can read a room, but Dear went a step further by reading the whole city’s collective anxieties. For the first time in recent history, FOMO lost some of its potency in favor of base survival. But for those who see techno and house music as not just an avenue for release, but endemic to a way of life, the questions Dear posed at the beginning of his set take on a profound significance. The placement of Joeski’s “I Miss You” towards the end, with its hard hitting acid leanings set to a voicemail drenched in longing landed like a salute of affection to all those who keep the culture humming on and off season. Because for some, putting in that work just feels like coming home.If you like Matthew Dear, check out ASC, Jennifer Loveless, and Warner Case.