MoogFest Final Take

Three Days of Plugged in Sound (except Mountain Man): An Echoes Perspective

MoogFest 2010 wasn’t the first MoogFest, but it was the first of a new era of MoogFests that follows the programming pattern of alternative rock music festivals like Coachella, Bonaroo and the Pitchfork Music Festival.  There were over 60 acts in 3 days spread out over  3 main venues and two smaller rooms.  Because it’s indoors and up to a 15 minute walk between the two main venues, the Asheville Civic Center and The Orange Peel, it doesn’t quite have the communal feel of those events,but Halloween weekend definitely gave MoogFest a Tim Burton vibe you wouldn’t find at other events.  Audiences were in full costume all three nights and filled the streets of Asheville, a town that is hip and quaint, even under normal circumstances.

What MoogFest did have is a lot of leading edge dance and electronic music from the last 20 years or so.  Musically there were no revelations, and except for The Octopus Project, there were no artists really breaking out or charting new terrain.

There’s was a certain among of kvetching by people like me that MoogFest had a narrow definition of electronic music which left out a lot of sounds like progressive rock, space, ambient and avant-garde music, genres that share a deep history with electronics in general and Moog synthesizers in particular.  Another complaint was that there didn’t seem to be many people who had much to do with the Moog synthesizer.  Both remained true, but the spirit of Robert Moog filled the music and he got many shout-outs from the stage.  The festival did take chances on experimental projects like Saturn Never Sleeps and Emeralds.    I guess if you want that kind of festival, like Nearfest let’s say, you’ll have to start your own.  But this was a festival looking for 8,000 attendees, not the 1000 that will top out Nearfest.  However, Ashley Capps, the festival promoter, did attempt to book a few of them this year and is looking towards a couple of iconic German electronic bands for next year.  And it appears that there will be a next year. Despite being spread over 5 venues, virtually every event I attended was full or near full.

Hear a pre-Festival interview with MoogFest producer Ashley Capps:

Here’s a shot at some final MoogFest observations

The highlights of the Festival:
Massive Attack
The Octopus Project
Hot Chip
Saturn Never Sleeps (w/King Britt)
Jon Hopkins

Cancellation of Devo
Thievery Corporation ( I may be the only one who thought this, however.)

Best Restaurants
Flash: Posana Café
Funky: Jack of the Wood
Both had great food and service and vibe at opposite ends of the price scale

*The illuminated figures called Freddies, scattered across Asheville and this page, were freaky cool.

*Asheville has the nicest parking lot attendants I’ve ever encountered.
*Asheville has the nicest security personnel I’ve ever encountered.

*Festival attendees and/or Ashevillians smoke too much and allow too much smoking.  I’m not sure if it was because of festival attendees or Asheville itself, but I’ve never seen so many people lighting up on the streets.  It’s against the law to smoke inside public spaces, but there’s no such restriction on outdoor smoking. This wasn’t limited to the usual smoking gauntlet around club and restaurant doors.  The air was filled with a tobacco smoke haze.   I can’t remember a place, even in Europe, where I felt like I had to go inside to escape the stench.

*The audience was mostly in the 18-35 year old bracket.                                                                                                                             *There was about 55/45% male/female split.
It was one of the whitest audiences you’ll see outside a Taylor Swift show which was surprising given acts like Big Boi and DJ Spooky.
*There is electronic music without a dance beat.  Bring it next year please.

A nice chunk of the proceeds goes to the Bob Moog Foundation to preserve the legacy of this influential and pioneering inventor and enabler of all things electronic.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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