In a grassy field in the middle of god-knows-where, all sorts gathered for a day of carni rides and DJs. So much to hear, see, and schmooze, yet so little time. Scared of the freaks and the sea of beer bottles everyone was falling over, I nestled in to watch the reaction to the latest craze in imported music- Detroit techno.
Kids flopped and pissed against the tent in relief. Thousands danced to the ‘hometown sound’- hoping to create a vibe they have only heard about. Upon picking up my accent and learning I was from Detroit, an inhabitant of the tent proceeded to treat me like I was from sort of glossy music haven where the streets where lined with white labels and people dancing. I informed them that potholes and bums line Detroit’s streets and we only have three record stores within city limits- not one on every corner. The other people who I had a chance to talk to would chop a leg off to be on the level of musical privilege that Detroit has. The reaction to the DJs and the music was like something I had never seen in Detroit. Only when AUX 88 came on did people stop and scratch their heads. They couldn’t understand a sound or a group that is as much as a part of Detroit as traditional techno because it wasn’t the sound they had glorified.
Then it happened. The ‘Detroit’ tent closed in respect for the Grand Daddies of electronic music. Nearly 3,000 piled into a one ring circus tent to hear THEM. The curtain opened and four Germans in black started playing ‘Numbers’ live. They tweaked and turned knobs resulting in a set of greatest hits and one track never heard before. Kraftwerk produced nearly two hours of sounds and emotions that in the 80’s helped plant the seed that would give birth to ‘Detroit’ techno. I had never been so excited to be in a field with so many strangers, but at the same time I missed my friends and home.
After spending two weeks in London, I missed the potholes, bums and warehouses of Detroit. London will never be or understand Detroit as a city and vice versa. Detroit’s darkness has produced a beauty of rhythm and beats London only wishes it could posses, and one Detroit is still learning to recognize.