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Ghosts and Robots: CoS at MoogFest ’10

on November 01, 2010, 3:58pm
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moogfest Ghosts and Robots: CoS at MoogFest 10You’ll see a lot of things in Asheville, NC. There’s the mountains, for one. Gorgeous, inviting rolling hills of all colors, surrounding the city in all its natural glory. It’s awe-inspiring, to use a cliche. The nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, with its stone-cut tunnels and historic bridges, begs to be driven down, if not for a few hours then definitely for 30 minutes. Then there’s the city’s architecture. Established in 1784, and given its name by Governor Samuel Ashe, the city boasts its fair share of structural beauties. When the sun peaks during the day, it’s hard to dismiss the eye-soothing pinks and reds of City Hall or the Basilica of St. Lawrence, the latter of which will have you saying, “How the hell did this get here?” It’s quaint in the sense that, yes, this is a “small town”, but it’s surprising in that it’s much more than that.

There’s an idea to Asheville. You could say it’s a small town with the heart of a city, but you’d be wrong. It’s not a city and it’s not a town. The most obvious word to use would be “community.” At least judging from its downtown area, there appears to be a sense of pride towards ownership. Dozens of independent shops and restaurants litter the area – everything from creative vegan eateries (Rosetta’s Kitchen) to southern-fried goodness (Tingles Cafe) to snazzy bars (Sazerac) – and yet they all work. People flock to them. Items and goods are sold. Smiles filter everywhere. The stores appear happy rather than desperate. It’s great, it’s inspiring, and it’s 100% American.

That’s why Asheville and MoogFest make such a great couple. Despite being the hometown of Moog Music, the overall mission of Robert Moog’s fascinating experiments and technology fully embodies the spirit of community and positivity that pervades the area. People were meant to use these machines to communicate their music in a way they couldn’t before. Seeing as how you can’t cross a street here without coming across one musician pouring his heart and soul out to passersby and pooches, it makes sense that such an open-door instrument would call this place home.

Although New Orleans’ Voodoo Festival capitalized on the Halloween weekend, this year’s inaugural MoogFest has done one hell of a job in making a name for itself. With sold-out ticket tiers and thousands of natives and travelers flooding the intricate downtown streets, all in various (and ultimately creative) costumes, it’s safe to say that this country can handle two landmark music festivals on All Hallow’s Eve.

Three times the charm?

-Michael Roffman

Friday, October 29th

Although Consequence of Sound and WNC Magazine kicked off things the night before at The Southern, with one chill-out DJ set by Saturn Never Sleeps’ King Britt, the party didn’t officially start until around Friday evening. This let everyone else who arrived early to explore the city and take advantage of time. But, that’s exactly what the festival intended.

If you were lucky enough to snag a hotel room at the nearby Four Points Sheraton (basically the hub for all things press and media), then you set yourself up for an easy weekend. Everything’s within walking distance, really. In fact, you can crawl to the Asheville Civic Center. No lie. Well, a little bit of an overstatement, but if you wanted to, you probably could. Bottom line: Comfort should take precedence at music festivals, so here’s a place to start.

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King Britt [DJ Set] – CoS/WNC KickOff Party
Photo by Cap Blackard

There’s a reason to focus on where you’re staying. Simply because you’re walking everywhere. This isn’t like Lollapalooza and it’s nothing like that other Ashley Capps-produced event. You know, the one in Manchester? Instead, MoogFest works much like SXSW or Capps’ recent endeavor, Big Ears Festival. Several of the town’s venues take a piece of the line up. There’s the legendary Orange Peel, the vintage-yet-endearing Asheville Civic Center, the corresponding Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Stella Blue, and the Moogaplex. Not only does this give festivalgoers a chance to visit the town’s establishments, but it gets folks out into the nighttime air, offering nearby bars and eateries an opportunity to snag some business for themselves.

The first night started with a bang, but there were some issues. Mild confusion led to some disconnect on where patrons could enter or exit – especially for media – resulting in some traffic issues, at least in terms of moving people around. Several folks seemed lost on where the venues were, as well. The festival had attached maps to the guides, but that didn’t stop attendees from shouting out to one another for directions. It was pretty common to hear, “Dude, you know where the Moogaplex is?” Also, and this isn’t the festival’s fault, but the late-night eating was an issue. Actually, it wasn’t so much an issue as it was just non-existent. Save for the Civic Center’s “ballpark” offerings, and a couple of local places like Rosetta’s or The Bier Garden, there lacked a forum for late-night noshing – which is sort of a must given that the fest goes on until three in the morning. Let’s just say a taco truck would have made a small fortune.

But, by now, you’re probably wondering about the music, right?

-Michael Roffman

Dan Deacon
The Orange Peel, 6:00 p.m.

Dan Deacon kicked off the inaugural Moogfest by doing something that he had never done – stepping away from the wild craziness that usually defines his live show, turning it down a few notches, and performing an improvisatory ambient show. Armed with a table of mostly Moogerfoogers – positioned in the crowd and not on the stage, of course – Deacon began the set with a genuine speech about the Moog brand and what it means to him personally. According to Deacon, he was excited to play a festival where the main sponsor is a brand he actually believes in, and something that has influenced his music greatly. He was humbled to be playing in the same room as some of the people that actually assemble the Moogs that he uses, and the hoard of people crowded around his table didn’t help his nerves. After unsuccessfully suggesting to the crowd that they could take a seat if they wanted to – as he explained how this show would be different from his others – he decided to lead the crowd in some exercises to help everyone get “in the zone.” He led everyone in stretching, deep breathing, cartoon noise exhaling, and more. He then made everyone get their own personal space by spreading out to where no one could touch anyone else. Then he “tricked” them into following his lead and sitting on the ground – “pretend we’re at the beach! Just lay down!”

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

Once everyone was seated, he finally began his set. Through a series of plugging in wires and turning knobs, he somehow managed to create wonderful pieces of music right on the spot. He played two “songs” – if we’re using a loose definition of the word – and they each had their own very unique vibe. The first began as a rolling and calming ambient piece, but eventually was overrun by spurts of noise – but not in a bad way. His second piece was more dark and brooding right from the start, with a bass tone that could rattle your chest. A beat eventually kicked in and Deacon used his voice as an instrument until the piece came to a close. The difference between his early set and his late set were enormous, but they each held their own, especially the ambient set – where anything could’ve gone wrong but absolutely nothing did. -Carson O’Shoney

The Octopus Project/Devo
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 6:30 p.m.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Austin, TX’s The Octopus Project is like nothing I’ve ever seen; electro-pop meets Mogwai in a loose sense, a dash of Californian HEALTH, and this is your nutshell. Every song is glazed with instrument change-ups on-stage by the band ñ guitarist Josh Lambert taking over drums, the poetic inclusion of a Moog theremin by Yvonne Lambert, and so on. A long focus on the band’s two latest electronic-heavy releases, Hello, Avalanche and Hexadecagon, had the scarce and costumed crowd discernibly engulfed in bizarre imagery and positive energy.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

As if a giant banana and some colorful fairies seizing to “Truck” wasn’t icing on the cake, Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo made an astounding surprise guest appearance for a brief monologue about the band’s relationship with Robert Moog, the synthesizer factory heaven Mothersbaugh was privy to in ’70s New York, and a grand finale of “Girl U Want” and “Beautiful World”. We wish Devo the best, and though we’re sad to have seen them cancel, this little collaborative effort will be remembered forever in Moog – and spud – history. Now, where can we play their special synthesizer? -David Buchanan

Big Boi
Asheville Civic Center, 8:00 p.m.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

Big Boi’s hype man claimed that they were the “coolest motherf**kers on the planet”. After Friday night’s show at Moogfest, I’m inclined to agree with him. The moment Big Boi walked on stage, he had the entire arena’s attention, and he never let it go throughout the whole show. From song one it was a non-stop party, with Big Boi playing cuts from throughout OutKast’s discography as well as fresh tracks from his new album, Sir Luscious Leftfoot. From “Rosa Parks” and “So Fresh, So Clean” to “B.O.B.” and “Ms. Jackson” – the OutKast songs received the biggest response. Big Boi even dove into his group’s first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, for “Player’s Ball”. That’s not to say the new songs weren’t fantastic live – they were just as huge as he intended them to be. As I looked around the Civic Center, even the people on the top level of the arena could not stop dancing for the whole hour he was on-stage. Big Boi put it best himself in a tweet after the show – “O yeah we just DESTROYED #Moogfest #weoutchea” -Carson O’Shoney

MGMT
Asheville Civic Center, 6:30 p.m.

An act like MGMT has built an accidental pedestal trying to be two things at once, essentially an amalgamation of psychedelic experimentation and modern pop; a clumsy gamble for a band only onto its sophomore release. As an innocent bystander watching the rise of MGMT, you get the feeling that they’re a very confused group of boys, experimenting within certain comfort zones while also branching out into the unknown, which essentially has resulted in a post-modern picture of ’60s psychedelia. Oh, and a few kick-ass music videos.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

For a raging, energetic crowd, maxing out the wide open space of Asheville’s Civic Center, MGMT took advantage of the energy. Early on, “It’s Working” and “Time to Pretend” kept costumed fans dancing and hopping over one another – most were singing the songs word for word. However, towards the middle, and following another crowd favorite “The Electric Feel”, the band turned to more material off of Congratulations and admittedly the crowd diminished. The lull in back to back spacey tracks didn’t sit well for those who came in with glow sticks and a desire to dance and “freak out.” However, for the thousands that remained, MGMT bounced back reliably with “Kids”, working off some lights and sounds that created a cloud of hum and happiness for “Brian Eno” and the meditative ballad, “Congratulations”. A little work on the set’s pulse rate could improve an otherwise tight and enjoyable set, even for this non fanatic. -David Buchanan

Van Dyke Parks
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 11:00 p.m.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

Van Dyke Parks has long been one of pop music’s unsung heroes. Most famous for his collaborations with Brian Wilson, he’s also worked with everyone from U2 to Joanna Newsom. His fans treated him the right way at Moogfest, with the utmost respect. Beginning (and ending) the set by telling the audience, “be nice to each other or I’ll kill you!” – Parks played a set filled with the pleasant songs that makes him such a popular collaborator. Of course, his Brian Wilson tunes received the biggest response. Towards the end of the set, Claire from Claire and the Reasons, the band supporting him on his current tour, came out to do a few songs – including a wonderful version of “Heroes and Villains”. The crowd was appreciative of Parks, and Parks was appreciative of the crowd. It was a big love fest – and Parks looked like he had a great time being the ringleader. -Carson O’Shoney

Dan Deacon
Asheville Civic Center, 12:00 a.m.

Take one part D&D player, one part Skittles bag, and a liberal helping of radio transmissions from deep space, and Dan Deacon is your result. From improvised dance contests to spoken word to commands and vocal distortion – Deacon is like sonic awesome, digitized for consumption, and while he can be a bit much for the lesser eccentric types, the acquired taste is something akin to Mike & Ike’s. As someone just getting introduced to Deacon’s repertoire (Meetle Mice = brain enema), the entire set was an experience that fed off of everyone participating.

On that note, Deacon isn’t so much a one-man band as he is a character with a voice-changer and some trippy lights coming from his mind. Enough said, check the static yourself. -David Buchanan

Panda Bear
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 12:30 a.m.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

To be honest, I was a bit worried about Panda Bear’s live show. I’ve always loved his work with and without Animal Collective, but I had heard mixed reviews of his live shows. Luckily, he laid those thoughts down to rest and came out on top in the wee hours of Saturday morning. With only a table of looping machines and a guitar, Panda Bear put on a show to remember. He only played three old songs – “Ponytail”, “Comfy in Nautica”, and Animal Collective’s “Daily Routine” – but some of the new songs showed the potential to become new favorites. The show’s opener was an astounding number that found him switching seamlessly between harsh white noise and a deep bass beat, all while keeping his voice as great as ever. The new songs ranged from slow, meditative pieces to straight up dance songs – so if it’s anything like his live show, it looks like fans of every side of Panda Bear should be satisfied with his upcoming album, Tomboy.  -Carson O’Shoney

Girl Talk
Asheville Civic Center, 1:00 a.m.

Feed The Animals is, to me, the epitome of party music this decade – Gregg Gillis’ latest foray into full-length album mash-ups. The man known as Girl Talk, infamous for his reputation as “that guy with laptops hosting the big-ass house parties”, is a forefront representative for the new age of DJs (term “disc jockey” used loosely). If you spin vinyl, the purist in you might mock him; if you embrace the digital age, you might see him on-stage, surrounded by dancing fans, and think he’s on cocaine.

Halloween weekend 2010 will go down as Girl Talk’s swiftest letdown in hype: entering dressed as Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare On Elm Street, he jolted the crowd with a Black Sabbath/Ludacris mash, some Halloween-themed pieces, lots of fun pop, and insertions from Feed The Animals, whereas the last half of Gillis’ performance hit a couple of tech snags (me thinks hard for one guy and two laptops) and a lapse in crowd return of energy. When people are dozing off at the second helping of your show, they aren’t full on Thanksgiving turkey or crashing on the candy buzz…they are bored. -David Buchanan

Gallery by Cap Blackard

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Gallery by Laura Helen Winn

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Saturday, October 30th

If Friday felt rough, it’s only because MoogFest decided to unpack the big guns, throw its attendees into the corral, and shoot off the fireworks. Think about it: One Dan Deacon performance could tire your calves, two could put you in a coma, but couple it with a performance by Girl Talk and a raucous hip-hop jamboree by Big Boi and you’re two-thirds from death. So, it’s no secret that plenty of folks would be exhausted, right? Thank god for the early-evening start times.

But, you can only sleep so late, and MoogFest organizers understood this. Sprinkled throughout the day, workshops and films cracked open the Moogaplex, all exhibiting Bob Moog’s fine legacy. In addition to tech panels and theremin performances, attendees had the opportunity to try out the latest Moog equipment, where for a few minutes (that is, if there wasn’t a line) they could feel like a world renown DJ. What’s the old adage? Education can be fun.

Most people celebrate Halloween. Asheville lives for Halloween. On Friday, it felt like All Hallow’s Eve, where nearly everyone showed off their wicked finest. For Saturday, however, everyone came dressed again, ready to relive their fictional personalities once more. Some even arrived with a new costume. Creative? Sure. Obsessive? Maybe. If anything, it added to the already overflowing charm this town offers.

Before we digress on the music, we’ll say three words: Tupelo Honey Cafe. If you were like us on Friday, starved and lost for grub, one healthy dosage of this Asheville landmark eatery will keep you satiated for 12 hours or more. If you have big pockets, take as much food with you as you can. Christ.

Write that down.

-Michael Roffman

Mountain Man
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 6:00 p.m.

When you see a name like this on the bill in Asheville, being unfamiliar, you could be easily misled, but more so pleasantly surprised. This quaintly-named Vermont acoustic trio of beautifully harmonizing birds could make the Appalachians ring ethereal. As the first act of Thomas Wolfe’s Saturday run, Mountain Man is a prize gem, and at a half capacity audience, three things become evident.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

The enormous amount of folks who paid no attention missed all the charm; those who made it received an intensely sensual experience and the taste of a faster-paced new song; the performance of debut material from Made The Harbor did more justice to a three-part harmony than Bob Marley’s back-up singers and the Dixie Chicks combined. This act seems like a wild draw for a festival dedicated to the inventor of the synthesizer, but I believe Mountain Man needs some extra-special attention immediately.

Sensuality and all. -David Buchanan

Nosaj Thing
Asheville Civic Center, 6:00 p.m.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

Nosaj Thing was a perfect candidate to open the second day of Moogfest – he appeals to both the indie crowd (he opened for the xx and jj earlier this year) and, of course, the electro crowd. He kept both sides interested by keeping the tempo high and atmospheric while throwing in samples of everyone from Portishead to Wu-Tang Clan during his non-stop hour-long set. The crowd, which started small and grew larger and larger as the set went on, locked in on what he was doing and never stopped dancing. -Carson O’Shoney

School Of Seven Bells
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.

The Curtis/Deheza front known as SVIIB by the fans has a lot of things going for it this day and age: Curtis’ former act, The Secret Machines, contributed music to a Beatles-based musical film, Across The Universe; his current undertow with SVIIB’s debut Alpinisms is atmospheric, but devotionally weighted in both lyric and love. How does this translate to Moogfest 2010?

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

The presence felt like watching Roxette with elements of David Gilmour or shoegaze, amplified for the setting appropriately. Live, the lyrics do not seem as legible due to volume and layers of sound surrounding them, so throw in some expert chameleon-esque lighting, and you get a show more color-crazed and ethereal than a DJ spinning prisms on the sun. Also, phenomenal music, as expected. The hair, too. -David Buchanan

Caribou
Asheville Civic Center, 7:30 p.m.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

An arena doesn’t seem like the most likely choice of venue for Caribou’s brand of electronic indie jams. But somehow they pulled it off – and had a very sizeable crowd, too. Caribou live and Caribou on record are two totally different animals. Their live show went a lot further than they attempt to go on record. With the drummer going crazy and the rest of the band following suit, Caribou put on a high energy set filled with extended jams and amped up freak-outs, almost turning into an electro jam band. The crowd loved every minute of it – and responded by treating the band to huge applause. -Carson O’Shoney

Thievery Corporation
Asheville Civic Center, 9:00 p.m.

I had no idea where this performance was going to go, nor was I aware of how many collaborators had been involved and on tap within Thievery Corporation. What was, on Radio Retaliation, a well-tempered but eclectic hum of awesomeness had taken on a giant Indian celebration with funk and reggae abound and tribal-esque dance vibes throughout the entirety of Asheville Civic Center. People dancing in elevators, on railings, on seats, and don’t even ask about the ground floor.

The brass accented when needed, the bassist was a madman every step of the way, Sly & The Family Stone received an honorable tribute via “Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)”, and this became the high that everyone needed before delving into our dark, demanding final act… -David Buchanan

Jónsi
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 8:30 p.m.

Let’s just get something out of the way – any words that I could say in this review will not do justice to the absolutely astounding set that Jónsi put on at Moogfest. But since it’s my duty, I’ll try my best. The value of his stage production cannot be understated – the visuals that overtook the stage were visually appealing and emotionally inspiring. At different times subtle and powerful, they fit the music perfectly, and only added an extra level to the show – never took away from it or overwhelmed the actual music.  The music itself was something to behold as well. While Jónsi’s debut Go never reached the same heights that he does his band Sigur Rós, the songs work much better live. The crowd was obviously familiar with the material – once each new song was recognized, a respectful applause arose.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

The set started out with some of the slower numbers, but picked up with back-to-back performances of “Go Do” and “Boy Lilikoi” – which sent the large audience into a blissful frenzy. The applause through the rest of the set was nothing short of rapturous. Jónsi was at his best as a frontman when he was free from the restrictions of playing guitar and was free to roam around the stage, from the edge near the crowd to the back with the rest of his band. At the end of the set – all that was left on stage was Jónsi screaming into the mic while hunched over his pedals as a wall of sound engulfed him.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

When the set ended abruptly with the “thud” of his microphone as he let it fall to the ground – the audience let out an audible gasp of disbelief of what they had just experienced. Once they came back to their senses, the response was deafening. Jónsi came back out for an encore of a few songs that just solidified what everyone already knew – that was the defining set of the weekend. Women cried. Men cried. As I left I overheard multiple conversations including the phrases “religious experience” and “life-changing.” I’m inclined to agree with them – this was an experience I will never forget. -Carson O’Shoney

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Massive Attack
Asheville Civic Center, 11:15 p.m.

A giant wall of LEDs scrolls seemingly random military command text across the boards; a veritable symphony of people enter the stage, followed along by frontmen 3D and Daddy G. The brooding bass and spacious crescendos were on tap, and Massive Attack came to milk it all. Aside from the Mezzanine standards like “Angel” — which was accompanied by our dear Horace Andy on vocals — or “Teardrop” and “Risingson”, the unintentional originators of so-called trip-hop who have graced soundtracks and strolling pedestrian earphones for years brought the house down during Moogfest 2010.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

The boards behind Massive Attack flashed numerous video and alpha-numeric messages, spelling out violence in statistics and news headlines, including a mention of the underpaid African-American farmers here in North Carolina (another matter entirely). As one of the biggest draws all Moogfest long, Massive Attack certainly lived up to expectations, following Thievery’s dark party with a little moodswing of its own.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

I hope, for North Carolina’s sake, 3D and Daddy G and company bring the light back to the Carolinas again sooner than later — maybe an intimate Orange Peel setting? -David Buchanan

Jon Hopkins
Moogaplex, 11:30 p.m.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Although the Moogaplex felt a little too sterile for a dance hall, UK favorite Jon Hopkins worked some magic and turned the office space into a mini underground club. Given the competition – Massive Attack and The Disco Biscuits, to name a couple – Hopkins entertained a handful of costumed spectators, spinning synth lines and hammering out bass punches left and right. The grooves hardly subsided, though when they smoothed out, Hopkins peered up from under his Jonny Greenwood-esque bangs and offered a boyish grin. As the night surged forward, the guru, who recently collaborated with the likes of Brian Eno, sipped his beer and danced just as much as the audience. By the time the midnight hour arrived, there was less office space to share and plenty of atmosphere to wade in. Maybe he’s learned a thing or two from Eno, after all.  -Michael Roffman

Gallery by Cap Blackard

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Gallery by Laura Helen Winn

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Sunday, October 31st

It’s only natural that human beings feel the need to stay connected. Isolation remains one of our greatest fears, and yet, ironically, we continue to widen the gap between two parties. Communication is cheap these days. Industrialization has shaped the world into one reckless social network, where each second millions of people “connect” with one another, typically in the confines of one’s home. We live in a loud society, but you’d never know it. That is, unless you listened intently for the click-clack, click-clack of the nearby keyboards on everyone’s laptop or smart phone. There’s plenty of chatter, only little noise pollution. But to every negative, there’s a positive. Technology not only makes things easier for folks, it enlightens them.

With MoogFest, technology runs rampant. This is essentially a festival celebrating the idea of pushing music past its limits and the media in which to do so. However, unlike the Facebook’s and iPhone’s that flood every tech convention, MoogFest embraces the agenda of using technology to bring people together. Literally. What’s more, the festival surrounds itself with some of the country’s most spectacular foliage and natural landscapes around. So, in a twist of irony, while the technology brought people here, it’s the nature and community that bound them.

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Photo by Michael Roffman

That’s the wonderful thing about MoogFest. Well, that and the dedicated festivalgoers who decided to treat everyday like Halloween wouldn’t return until the next century. Albeit young and with plenty of errors to remedy, the newborn event succeeds in championing a new kind of music festival – one that understands its core principles, while also feeling the need to switch on a few new lights. People bleed their life out at these festivals because it’s an experience that, in hindsight, truly changes their point of view on music. With MoogFest, the weekend excursion shifts your perspective on a variety of things: nature, people, small town life, communication, independence, etc. The list could go on and on, the explanations could deviate and come together, but the truth of the matter is… it’s a meditative escape that expands your mind and yet keeps you grounded, as well.

You also get to wear a costume.

Two Fresh
Asheville Civic Center, 6:30 p.m.

Hailing from Asheville, NC, the twin DJs of Two Fresh are pure southern natives with dancefloor mentality. Others I’ve spoken to say they’re something of a minor living landmark in western North Carolina; judging by Moogfest’s generosity, they really love holding their own. The Civic Center’s arena was not appropriate for the small act’s audience pull, though with nothing but straight rap beats and heavy bass, everyone arriving got to sit back and relax to enjoy. -David Buchanan

Sleigh Bells
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 7:15 p.m.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

Scheduled for an hour, which everyone knew they wouldn’t fill, Sleigh Bells came on about 15 minutes past their scheduled start time. By then, the theatre had filled out quite nicely, and the people in the pit were already freaking out before they even played a note. Once they came out after the hardcore intro and bursted into “Tell ‘Em”, they got the audience jumping early and often – all the way to closer “Crown on the Ground”. The pit for Sleigh Bells might have just been the craziest one for all of Moogfest – but behind the pit, all of the auditorium’s seats made it difficult for anyone to dance, freak out, etc. If anything, this show should have been held at the Orange Peel – where the entire room could have been going properly nuts. But as it stands you had Sleigh Bells playing at an awkwardly large venue for them, but they made the best of it anyways.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

One side of me was annoyed at the fact that about 75% of the music being played was just being played through a recording – the guitarist would add a couple licks here and there – and two whole songs were just Alexis Krauss alone on stage dancing and singing to a backing track. The whole thing felt like you could have just played their album Treats at an extremely high volume and gotten the exact same result, but I think that’s what Sleigh Bells are going for. They’re not there to be technically impressive or flesh out their songs with a drummer and bass – they’re just there to be loud as hell, in your face, and make you move. And if that was the goal, they accomplished it 100%. -Carson O’Shoney

MiM0sa
Asheville Civic Center, 7:30 p.m.

Drum-and-bass meets Girl Talk in a nutshell? Certainly. Stage presence and charisma? Definitely. Music selection? Depends on who you ask, but if you’re choosing between Girl Talk and MiM0sa, the recommendation is the former due strictly on mass appeal. MiM0sa as a live performer is really something to see, and he deserved a much bigger draw, but as an artist, Gillis utilizes far more than straight beat remixes for his arsenal.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Suggestion to MiM0sa: When you’re pushing the crowd, don’t just lace extra bass on extra bass for a reaction…pop snippets minimal regardless. -David Buchanan

Neon Indian
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 8:45 p.m.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Chillwave bands don’t exactly have a reputation for being tight live. The style lends itself to half-assed performances where the audience can’t tell the difference. Somehow Neon Indian continues to break that trend by being a very tight live band – perhaps that’s the reason why they’ve become one of the most popular bands to come out of that scene, as evidenced by the nearly full crowd they pulled at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Sporting some fancy equipment, like an awesome LCD screen guitar – Neon Indian got the crowd grooving and never stopped. The obvious highlight was “Deadbeat Summer” – the crowd just went crazy for it. They are exactly what you hope for live – fun and chill at the same time. -Carson O’Shoney

Younger Brother
Asheville Civic Center, 9:00 p.m.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

This band from across the water works like an adrenalized Coldplay, and really makes its case with little strife and strain. Another alternative rock act that doesn’t quite fall into Moog electronic territory, Younger Brother brings enough artsy flare and visual stun to rock everybody’s night.

In the long haul, we sincerely hope that Younger Brother slams a larger dent in the overall rock scene, maybe try to build some more elaborate chord structures and funk time signatures to the work, avoid later Coldplay comparisons and kill any “everyone wants to be Radiohead” stigma. All in all, Younger Brother roped in a healthy crowd, especially given the competition, kneaded in some organic instrumentation, and became my ultimate find all weekend (aside from a kick-ass record store). -David Buchanan

Hot Chip
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 10:15 p.m.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

One of many finales to Moogfest arrived as an eclectic package of dance, synth-pop, steel pan work, and switcheroo madness on every instrument available. London electro-pop band Hot Chip hosted the final show of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and there was hardly a seat available. Not that it mattered, though, as hardly anyone sat in them. Things felt stuffy and sweaty, especially since the pit area had been closed off, due to it being weakened incredibly from the weekend’s wear and tear. (We’re now accepting all “Ready for the Floor” puns.) Regardless, the tight-knit crowd only kept the rhythm in form, as the bouncy quintet chiseled through its four album-strong discography.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

If they’ve learned anything from touring with LCD Soundsystem recently, it’s that the audience needs to dance itself clean, which is exactly what everyone in the TWA did. Plenty of costumed ghouls sat sheepishly in their chairs at first, but once the heartbeat hitters like “Hand Me Down Your Love” and “Shake a Fist” rolled by, many sneakers scoffed up the floor. Flamboyantly finishing with “Ready For The Floor”, Hot Chip set the building on fire, balconies shook, and a courtesy bow with a flourish gave us all the last taste of time well spent in the Carolina. One of many treats of this tricky-yet-enviable weekend. -David Buchanan, Michael Roffman

El-P
The Orange Peel, 10:15 a.m.

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Photo by Laura Helen Winn

Facing stiff competition from Pretty Lights and Hot Chip, El-P’s set at the Orange Peel didn’t pull as large of a crowd as he could have had at a different point in the weekend – but he made the best of it. While he’s supporting his instrumental LP Weareallgoingtoburninhell-megamixxx3, he came out with hype man The Mighty Quinn in full on rap mode – playing mostly tracks from 2007’s excellent I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead – like “EMG” and “Smithereens (Stop Cryin’)”. Prowling the edge of the stage to rap over top of his audience, El-P and Quinn spit fast and furious for the first half of the show before transitioning into the instrumental segment of the set. Somehow, the energy stayed high throughout the 15-20 minute portion, in part due to the special guest they brought on – Dam-Funk. He grooved with them for one song and once he left they got “back into this rappy shit”. As the last show of Moogfest for some – El-P did not leave his audience disappointed. He sent the festival off right – with one big party. -Carson O’Shoney

Gallery by Cap Blackard

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Gallery by Laura Helen Winn

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It’s About the Fans…

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