This Memorial Day weekend marks the yearly Movement festival in Detroit, which will see the city packed with electronic music fans from around the globe and a near constant stream of underground music, all happening mostly within the city limits of the town that birthed techno music. Not unlike Sundance or Art Basel, festivities will include many splinter and satellite events, perhaps most notably a Saturday performance by the unrivaled electronic group Kraftwerk at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit. (Kraftwerk will be additionally headlining the main festival.)
The three members of Kraftwerk will attend an official Movement after-party celebrating the 30-year-anniversary of Transmat, the legendary Detroit label founded by techno godfather Derrick May, who also sits on the board at MOCAD. Also on the bill is another techno originator, Juan Atkins, and Salar Ansari. This isn’t Kraftwerk’s first time playing at the museum (or at an art institution in general; over the past decade they have performed at the Venice Biennale and staged a retrospective at MoMA—in fact, it seems like a decent amount of all Kraftwerk performances take place at museums these days). The last time they performed at the institution, in 2015, as part of an after-party for an official show, “they walked around the museum and went to galleries and talked to visitors,” said MOCAD executive director Elysia Borowy-Reeder in a phone interview. “They were not hiding in a VIP room, which they could’ve done but they didn’t.” Keeping in line with the spirit of the weekend, the event will go until 5 a.m. “This idea of staying open late with music is something I’ve been doing for years,” Bowery-Reeder said.
The feedback loop connection between Kraftwerk and Detroit is one that has gone back for decades now. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kraftwerk member Ralf Hütter stated that “the industrial sound of Motor City and Kraftwerk on the autobahn, there’s a spiritual connection. Automatic rhythms, robotic work, robotic music—all kinds of fantasies are going on.” On a similar note, Bowery-Reeder added that it is “really humbling to understand that you need sources of inspiration, you need connection, you need these things in order to be creatively fulfilled, you need these things in order to set the bar high.”
It is important for “younger generations to understand the linage,” she added.