Detroit's Movement Electronic Music Festival


The Detroit Electronic Music Festival began in 2000 and has been located in Hart Plaza in the center of downtown Detroit for 14 years. That first DEMF event was enormously successful and has since led to annual reprises, improving and expanding its scope. It became the Movement Electronic Music Festival in 2006. The Movement Electronic Music Festival has long been lauded by both fans and city officials, who have witnessed these events as a boon to the city, both in pride and financial returns, bringing in millions of dollars of local revenue to local businesses over the years. From left, Andy Combs, president, Innovative Audio Sales; Sam Fotias, festival director of operations; Jason Huvaere, festival director; Paul Owen, Thunder Audio VP; Tony Villarreal, Thunder Audio president; and Mike Fotias, festival production manager.Past events have also found critical acclaim and awards from the media, including a #1 spot in the New York Post’s 2010 list of “10 Outstanding Music Fests,” “Best Niche Festival” from Rolling Stone (2011); Resident Advisor’s “Global Festival of the Month” (2012, 2011, 2010); and 2008 “Festival of the Year” by URB magazine. Detroit's Movement Electronic Music FestivalIt’s a tough legacy to stand up to, but the 2013 Movement Electronic Music Festival was up to the challenge. Held annually over Memorial Day weekend (May 25 to 27, 2013) — and presenting music from 12 noon to midnight for three days — this year’s event featured five technologically-rich outdoor stages; more than 120 artists; dozens of official afterparties around the city; several art displays to stimulate the senses; and an interactive technology center spotlighting the hottest gear in the industry, with displays by companies such as Moog Music, Native Instruments, Ableton, IK Multimedia, Serato, Vestax, Kurzweil, Allen & Heath XONE, Novation, Reloop and others. More than 100,000 fans kept the festival grounds packed from noon to midnight for three days. As one of the cities where electronic dance music originated, it’s only fitting that one of the genre’s biggest festivals is held in Detroit. And artists performing at this year’s Movement Electronic Music Festival kept more than 100,000 electronic dance music (EDM) fans grooving over three days, with performances by Detroit techno pioneers Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Carl Craig, plus Moby, Squarepusher, John Digweed, Francois K, Big Gigantic and many more.

Thundering Sound System

Delivering the sizzling highs and pumping low frequencies to the electronic music fans, DJ’s and performers who came to party in Hart Plaza along the scenic backdrop of towering glass-and-steel skyscrapers and Detroit’s riverfront were sound systems (and plenty of subwoofers, of course) provided by Thunder Audio ( of nearby Livonia, MI. Established in the late 1970s, Thunder Audio has grown from a regional supplier into an international touring sound reinforcement company counts top acts like Garbage, White Stripes, Metallica and Steely Dan on its roster. And for this year’s Movement Electronic Music Festival, Thunder Audio knew it had to think big for this one, with more than 90 JBL Professional VTX Series line arrays. “When 100,000 people want to dance and get totally immersed in the music, you have to have a sound system that can blow them away completely,” said Thunder Audio VP Paul Owen. “We brought a system that delivered massive bass yet was clean and pure in the midrange and highs, even while pumping out high SPL.” The ground-stacked near-field complement at the main stage included four JBL VT8888’s atop 12 G28 subwoofers arranged in a cardioid array.Now in its ninth year as producers of the Movement Electronic Music Festival, Detroit-based Paxahau Event Productions and Management (, first established itself 15 years ago as an online resource to promote both Detroit and electronic music. Today, Paxahau Promotions Group is recognized across the world by artists and industry executives as a premier production and promotions organization. In 2007, after stabilizing the event and desiring to bring it to the next level, Paxahau engaged with Thunder Audio. By the next year, Thunder was providing sound reinforcement for all five stages and continues to do so to this day. The Detroit Electronic Music Festival “Thunder provides us with unparalleled service and enthusiasm — not only throughout the year, but especially during our premier event — the Movement Electronic Music Festival,” says Sam Fotias, Paxahau’s operations director. “We work on the sound design all year for each stage, ensuring that it is a complete, visceral experience for our festival attendees. Everyone always leaves in complete astonishment at how amazing our stages sound. Many artists who play all around the world tell us that our sound systems are the best they have ever played on.”

Big Stage; Big Sound

Thunder Audio outfitted the Movement Electronic Music Festival’s Red Bull Music Academy main stage with a massive JBL VTX-based system. Eighteen VTX V25 full size line array elements per side were hung on the left and right of the stage, with six V25’s on each side of the stage for outfill. Eighteen S28 subwoofers were deployed — two left and right hangs of nine each, along with 12 G28 subwoofers on the ground across the front of the stage in a cardioid configuration. Two V25 line array elements atop two G28 subs per side handled side fill, six JBL VerTec VT4888 midsize line array elements stacked three across and two high provided front fill and six VT4888’s flown in two clusters of three were used for upstage rear fill. Detroit's Movement Electronic Music FestivalPower to the massive speaker complement was provided by no fewer than 105 Crown I-Tech 12000 HD amplifiers and six I-Tech 4x3500 HD amps. Two dbx DriveRack 4800 loudspeaker management systems completed the system lineup, with everything controlled via JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software.

2014 On The Way

Even the gray skies and cold drizzle that came on the festival’s final day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the fans, promoters and sound crew, who are already looking forward to next year’s event, slated for May 24 to 26, 2014