Patterns and structures
By. Derek Ecker
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the magnificent Max Fisher Building for the 8 Days In June Music Festival. I was only able to make it to the fourth day of the festival, which was the Patterns, and Structure series that was homage to the minimalist movement.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised as to what the show had in store for me. By no means am I classical music aficionado, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between Bach and Beethoven but I am a fan of the symphony. Today’s popular music everything is so structured and based on formula which consists of the chorus, backbeat and the bridge which brings it all together. Listen to a song halfway through even the first time and more often than not you can sing the rest. So I look at the symphony as something like an unpredictable journey, sewn together with melodies and tempos, which are ever changing throughout any given orchestrated score.
Patterns and Structures was nothing of which I was familiar with in regards to the Classical music I’ve been exposed to growing up. Even though the title of the event concisely put into context the essence of the entire show I was still surprised as to what was in store. Pattern and Structures was just that a repeated 10 second splice of music played over and over again for about twenty minutes, even the potent beverages I guzzled down could not phase out the predictability as to what was coming next. Which totally makes sense since after all this show was presented as homage to the minimalist movement, which was known for being just that minimal.
So all though I may sound like I totally disliked the show which in some respects was true, I wasn’t hanging at the edge of my seat constantly wanting more. I did however enjoy Steve Reich’s Different Trains, which had such a ghostly quality to it. Tom Allen the host of The 8 Days Of June Music Festival told the story of how as a child growing up Steve Reich was constantly traveling across the United States visiting both of his parents who were divorced. Now on his train rides, which took place during the Second World War, he couldn’t help but think about the Jewish prisoners of the concentration camps who were also often transported by train in most cases to the destination of their demise. So from his thoughts about the prisoner’s travels and his along the rail line, he composed this score, which included actual recordings of Holocaust survivors and trains howling whistles, and the rumble of the trains as the traveled along the rails.
In my opinion that score made the entire two and a half hour minimalist show worth it. The only thing that upsets me is that I was able to record the whole show except that Different Trains score because some public resources lady working at the Max Fisher building made me turn off my recorder.
Over Memorial weekend I chilled downtown in Detroit’s Hart Plaza with thousands of tech-heads while beautiful drum and base blared in the background and candy ravers danced around me. The festival which never seems to disappoint, boasted 60,000 attendees and had big name techno names such as Derek Plastiko, Par Grindvik, and even Moby.
Besides the great music the people watching was amazing. People from all kinds of backgrounds gathered into Hart Plaza, many dressed in neon outfits chomping on children’s pacifiers all while entranced dancing to the music. Sure many were on some sort of mind altering substances, but it was a great sight. Only at the Detroit techno fest would you ever see a grown woman dressed as a sexy polar bear on a hot day in May. Although I must admit this year wasn’t as shocking as others I’ve spent at the festival. About four years ago I saw a man totally naked walking around so proudly of himself until being taken into police custody. Because of the recent addition of entrance fees along with added security, The festival has seemed to have gone through a water-downed commercialized transformation of itself. For the festival goers who have came over the last ten years, this is an obvious observation.
The Electronic Music Festival at a time became an implemented tradition amongst my friends and I. It was a place where we could go and guarantee that you’d meet people from all over the world. From all different backgrounds with a unified love for techno. Every memorial weekend as teenagers we’d meet up with our pre-rolled contraband, along with other mind altering substances and 20 oz. bottles of pop or juice mixed with our liquor of choice. We would spend the entire day on the lawn near the river playing hacky sack, and working on our tans. Then move our party over to the big stage once the sun went down. The environment was perfect, thousands of people partying under the sun and stars, to drum and bass by hundreds of performers for free. Let me just say, that although all good things come to an end I miss those days.
I understand the massive undertaking it is to produce an event at that magnitude of Movement for no admission. But the Hodown is put on at the same venue with just as big names on stage, in a genre of music with an even more widely accepted fan base, and still no longer charges admission. Since the festival has started to charged, it has taken something great away from it. The attendance may have gone up this year from the previous three years but it was nothing compared to what the festival was like when the event was free. Even early in the day the grounds of heart plaza would be packed, with thousands of techno fans.By night fall all you could see in heart plaza would be a sea of people.
So I am making a plea to Paxahau, bring back the glory days of Detroit’s techno festival. There is no doubt that they have done good for keeping the yearly event alive. But there has to be a way that the festival can remain true to it’s roots as a free event and still remain profitable through vendors and sponsors.
So right now I’m doing a series on local jazz performers and street musicians. This piece kind of came as a spin off of that. There was this lady singing with this band at Baker’s keyboard lounge in Detroit. Between sets she started reciting this free verse poem about love. Essentially it dealt with how she was in love with this man and she just couldn’t keep him out of her mind. Contently saying “love makes me sick” throughout the poem. At the end of her poem after proclaiming how much she hates this guy, and never wants to see him she states ” but I have to go get cute he’s coming over at three.” I found it to be a very funny and true to life poem. So from that, as random as it may seem spawned this fat, hairy cupid dude playing a mandolin. So here is a horrible pic of it until I’m done.