REVIEW: Impulse V: Roots (hosted by MEMCO)

Another unforgettable MEMCO (Michigan Electronic Music Collective) Impulse event at Club Above!! The theme of this month’s event was: Roots. It celebrated and highlighted black DJs, reminding all of us of techno music’s history–it was created by black people, specifically not too far from Ann Arbor in Detroit, Michigan. This event was paired with a film premiere of a new documentary (12 years in the making) about Detriot techno called God Said Give Em’ Drums and a panel discussion with legendary Detriot Djs like Stacy “Hotwaxx” Hale, Delano Smith, John Collins, and DJ ETTA. I sadly was unable to attend the screening and panel but the good news is the film will be in theaters soon! So when you are all able to, go watch it!!!! Then, come celebrate at a MEMCO event. If you haven’t been to one yet this is a great time to start, and if you want a preview of what you could experience…keep reading! 

I go to most MEMCO events, but I was especially excited for this one. I am originally from Los Angeles, California, and coming to Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was hard for me to feel a part of the community. I don’t like sports games, I don’t call soda “pop,” and I’m not sure I could tell you anything about the automotive industry (not to diminish Michigan culture to these three things, but I hope you get the point). Learning about the origins of Techno music and going to my first MEMCO event, I felt right at home and proud to call Michigan my new home. Roots was the first MEMCO event I’ve gone to with only black DJs. It was some of the best sets I’ve heard. There wasn’t a moment that I didn’t want to dance and move my body. Even when DJs switched the transitions were smooth and intentional–there was never a moment of stillness. 

My personal favorite sets were from DJ ETTA and MEMCO’s own NAPHTHA. DJ ETTA’s set was extremely fun, mixing hip-hop music with funky techno beats. She did an amazing job pacing each track and the evolution of each sound, i.e., adding sounds, distorting them, and playing with pacing/types of beats used. NAPHTHA was surely my favorite, though. His set had everyone dancing and gasping at the perfect transitions from track to track. I remember Club Above turning the lights on at the end of the set, and a group of us were so distracted by his set that we wouldn’t stop dancing. It’s one of those things where “you had to be there”. Looking up at the DJ booth, it looked like NAPHTHA was a scientist and was carefully using the mixing board–he knew how to use it so well I swear he could’ve made the board himself. It made me so excited that NAPHTHA is a UMICH student, and that someone so talented gets to share the campus with all of us. He is also currently a junior and will be around next year, DJing for more events so if you get the chance you must hear him play!!! I would not recommend anything more. The next MEMCO event is on April 20th at Club Above. The theme is Femme Fatale, and all of the DJs will be femme DJs!! Another very exciting event ending the semester with a BANG!

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