Detroit is often portrayed as a post-apocalyptic city with one foot tangled in its industrial past and the other feeling through its own bleak present for a sustainable future. Amid this austere environment is a hardscrabble, patchwork community of artists, musicians, and radicals who continue to make awesome music because, well, there’s not always that much else to do.
Like Memphis, Detroit may be known, unfortunately, more for its socioeconomic struggles than its profound artistic output, but the city has a similarly impressive track record when it comes to American music history. The northernmost capital of blues, Motor City is also a major hub for gospel, jazz, and classic rock. Then there’s soul. Detroit is home to Motown Records and legends like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, and the Supremes. Suffice it to say that soul music, and consequently modern popular music, would not be the same without Detroit.
Look a couple decades later, and Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May are humbly creating an entirely new genre of electronic music: Detroit Techno. Electronic music fans continue to revere Detroit Techno and the musicians who made it decades after they revolutionized the art form. Today, people like techno godfather Carl Craig and relative newcomer Kyle Hall continue to do the genre justice. Beyond techno, Detroit’s also home to hip-hop, house, post-punk, one of the country’s best music festivals, and some seriously credit-worthy establishments. So let’s cut the fluff and get on with it. Here is what’s happening in the Detroit music scene today.