Detroit The Independent: — Speakers pumping bass from all corners of Hart Plaza like a heartbeat as thousands of concertgoers returned Sunday for the second day of the Detroit movement’s electronic music festival.
For first-time attendee Amber Millard, the movement was not an exaggeration. She said she bought her tickets in February and that Sunshine at Hart Plaza this weekend was “perfect.”
“It was absolutely full (Saturday) for everyone to see 2 chains,” said Millard, of Whitmore Lake who was one of the first attendees on Sunday sitting by the fountain. “DJ Godfather was nice too last night.”
“It gets very busy around 4pm but the middle of the day at the festival is always slower. We are really looking forward to Griz on Monday.”
Some attendees, such as Millard, said attending the movement is in preparation for Electric Forest, a similar weekend-long festival in Rothbury, Michigan, starting June 23.
Mickey Domiano and Thomas Powers traveled together from Chicago for the event on Sunday, purchased their tickets at the site and said they were excited to see Carl Craig perform.
“This is my first time coming here, but we came here because we love techno and saw that this was infinitely bigger than anything we had in Chicago,” said Domiano, 38.
The festival resonates deeply in Detroit, the birthplace of techno music. It has become a staple in the industry, starting in the year 2000 and being held every year before the pandemic.
The movement consists of five stages, each with different combinations playing at the same time. At the Pyramid Stage, a venue for the festival’s VIPs, a small crowd enjoyed watching Chuck Daniels, who had the skyline of Canada as his backdrop.
About 40 artists perform each day with highlights including Adam Beyer, Blawan, Loco Dice on Sunday, Ataxia, Flying Lotus and Griz’s hometown favorite, playing on Mondays. A full schedule can be found here.
Rerun the festival “Surreal”
Saturday was perhaps the easiest opening day in the 16 years of the festival in Detroit, said Sam Fotias, director of operations. Fotias said around 25,000 people are expected to attend each day of the three-day Memorial Weekend
“We got out more efficiently and I couldn’t believe how many people were here,” Fotias said. “The atmosphere is amazing.” “People were running to each other so happy, hugging and excited to get back as if they had been waiting for this moment.”
But Fotias said restarting the movement after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic has not been easy.
“It’s surreal to be honest,” said Fotias, who has been on the team since 2006.
“The planning aspect over the past few months has been natural, then the reality of starting the upload a week ago led to another realization of ‘this is happening’ after postponing so many times,” Fotias said.
“It was a very difficult week of loading with the lack of the supply chain, the deep surge in goods and services. Then it was a week out of every season Michigan offered,” he said.
“It was really difficult. We dealt with crews of people who couldn’t get their sea legs back to work on an event of this scale.”
He said that during the first two days, there were no incidents or arrests except for some reported sprained ankles in the medics’ tent.
Weed shepherds dominate
As you walk through Hart Plaza, art fills the public spaces including replicas of the “spirit of Detroit” sitting by the circular fountain, a large old English letter D and a slew of flags along the river for pictures.
Green is featured prominently in cannabis sponsors’ banners and kiosks.
Troy-based JARS Cannabis was the main sponsor of the event which also introduced the local artists’ theater. The dispensary brand has 14 locations in Metro Detroit and four in Arizona. Their space included adult coloring under a canopy, temporary tattoos, and an “Instagram-friendly” space designed by artist Kylie Haight.
“No one comes to us upset. If there is anything, it is more curiosity and excitement that we are seeing from the main sponsor, which speaks to how far ahead what has happened during the pandemic. Three years ago, I could not believe this,” said Ali Galante, a Jais spokeswoman. That it be the case.” She added that they will also sponsor the Breakaway Festival at the end of August in Grand Rapids.
Weedmaps, Breeze Dispensary, and Ooze were other notable cannabis marketing brands at the event. Overall, Fotias said, 25% of the sponsorship came from cannabis.
“I think this is a prime example of what has happened in that industry over the last couple of years when it wasn’t happening,” Fotias said. “Many brands have contacted us and we have been fortunate enough to have had the time to check them all out and see who is the right fit for us and how easy it is to work with their teams.”
Tristan Blackett, marketing director at Ooze, a cannabis company founded in Oak Park, said cannabis couldn’t do traditional marketing on social media or television leading to a focus on events, until the epidemic broke out in March 2020.
Blackett, 46, said: “We realized that we had to spend our marketing money wisely while focusing on experiments. A lot has changed nationally, state level and local level because cannabis is no longer the huge, bad thing that it used to be and people are finally coming out of the green closet.” .
James Sissy, now 36, remembers attending the movement in his twenties when the event was just a few steps downstream.
“Last night seemed crazy with thousands of people here to see 2 Chainz. It’s pretty much the same as ever but the main difference is that you see these weed brands take root and you trust their marketing,” said Sesi, one of Ooze’s five partners. “We did 46 trade fairs in 2019 before the pandemic, and now we’re trying to come back. It’s crazy to think about where we started from.
“I used to sneak into this festival, and now we basically walk with a knuckle in our mouths,” he said.