By Adrain Hedden
T-shirts decorated with a lone gunman behind a militaristic cross-hair were among the crowd as an overwhelming sense of foreboding spread across the joyous, synthesized dance music that had dominated Movement 2012 for the previous three days
Many fans wandered around Hart Plaza, seeing these shirts and fearing violence. They knew it would be musical, but it would not be so blissful, so ignorantly gleeful for much longer.
At 11 p.m., Public Enemy and the S1-Ws took the stage and took over Detroit. Thousands of fans piled at the foot of the main stage, hoping to be engulfed in the riot they hoped the apolitical rap group would create.
It seemed strange for a classic hip-hop group to headline the electronic music festival, but as Chuck D pointed out mid-set: “Techno, hip-hop, it’s all turntables baby!” This sentiment was reflected in the set, albeit with a more socially conscience tone than the festival has ever embodied.
The energy at which the duo had narrated the political injustices of the 1980s with was retained at its signature rebellious rate of assault for a whole new generation of concert-goers.
They erupted from the stage, spouting lyrics and rhymes from some of their most classic and socially abrasive tracks at their inception. Techno and electronica fans were blind-sided by the proof of injustice Public Enemy laid before them along with their danceable beat as had been since the 80s.
Absent from the classic energy that defined Public Enemy in its heyday was the innovatively sample-heavy wax work from icon DJ: Terminator X. In place was the devastatingly accurate and pop-sensible DJ Lord. Backed by a live drummer, Lord was left to bring out only the most infectious beats and samples when given pause between Chuck and Flavs stinging rhetoric.
Lord memorably took the opportunity during a break in the rhymes to treat the audience to a well-received White Stripes and Nirvana rock-medley. He flawlessly spun the classic samples that had defined P.E., along with his own catchy flair.
Even more unexpected and applause-generating was the presence of hip-hop superstar and prime-time actor, Ice T. Stated to be the godfather of Public Enemy, T was on hand to double up on key syllables and even took a verse of his own amid the political and dance-heavy fervor.
Public Enemy, Chuck D and Flavor Flav were as monstrously opinionated and scathingly political as they were upon their debut. Their energy and lyrical fortitude was as strong as ever. Movement 2012 got a wakeup call from the political rappers, and just as soon it was shut down.
No act at Movement could compare to Public Enemy’s sonic aggression and lyrically ruthless attack on mainstream music. No performance interacted with the crowd as passionately as P.E.