At the crossroads

More to love: This year's Moogfest pairs tech-based day events with nighttime music. Thereminist Dorit Chrysler, pictured, appears as part of the day programming. Photo by Mrs. Lee
More to love: This year's Moogfest pairs tech-based day events with nighttime music. Thereminist Dorit Chrysler, pictured, appears as part of the day programming. Photo by Mrs. Lee

Moogfest’s thoughtful and future-leaning reinvention

Moogfest has evolved since it last took place in 2012. The then-three-day electronic music festival changed partners, took a year off and re-emerged this spring as a “Synthesis of Technology, Art & Music.”

Now spanning five days (Wednesday-Sunday, April 23-27) and more than 20 locations throughout downtown Asheville, Moogfest has also expanded its coverage. The festival’s previous incarnation focused on musical acts and a handful of panel discussions and installations. This year, the focal point broadens to include technology. And not just tech in the pedals and synthesizers sense. Speakers in the ticketed daytime lineup include New Museum director Julia Kaganskiy; cloning, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology expert Dr. Nick Bostrom; and Jerome C. Glenn, co-founder and director of The Millennium Project.

“We have evolved our thinking to create an event that truly celebrates the pioneering spirit of Bob Moog, uniting art, music and innovative technology to explore the dimensions of creative expression,” Moog Music President Mike Adams said in a press release.

Still, this thinking-person’s festival is not so erudite as to detract from the event’s party-ready, hip-shaking potential (which happens to include a dozen local acts, In Plain Sight, The Volt Per Octaves, Hello Hugo and RBTS WIN among them). “The hope is that people will explore the technology and thinking behind the tools that artists use and through that discover the limitless possibilities for creation and be inspired to make something new,” says Moog Music Brand Director Emmy Parker. And, while she’s not certain that the same audience will attend, say, the New Musical Frontiers by MIT Media Lab presentation at Asheville Community Theatre and, say, German electronic band Kraftwerk’s headlining 3-D show in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Parker does think the crossover is important.

Photo by James Murphy & Pat Mahoney
Photo by James Murphy & Pat Mahoney

“Moogfest is for people who want to have their minds expanded by new ideas and technologies and art, as well as discover and celebrate music,” she says. “Hopefully people will leave inspired to create something new.”

That hope extends even to nonticket holders. Moogfest lauds inventor and Moog Music founder Bob Moog as well as his longtime home, Asheville. With that in mind, festival planners added significant free programming — from a daily modular marketplace and tech-based presentations to an outdoor stage on Broadway near the Moog Music factory. It’s a “thank-you to our community and a way that everyone can be involved regardless of whether they have the money or not,” says Parker.

There’s also a ripple prospect to the nonticketed events. “We want people in Asheville to be exposed to these amazing thinkers and performers so our community can be inspired by new technologies and modes of thinking,” says Parker. “But we also want those coming to Asheville to see it in a new light. Not just as a great place to vacation, but also as town that’s supportive of innovation.”

Look for that spirit of innovation throughout the five-day festival.  From stages curated by the likes of Hopscotch Music Festival organizers and record label Ghostly International and an ongoing Moog Film Festival, to offerings like Moog yoga at Go Yoga on Biltmore Avenue and durational performances held at the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, there are a lot of ways to be inspired. “Nile Rodgers, Dan Deacon, Giorgio Moroder, Claire Evans and many others who are performing at night are participating in daytime panels, couch conversations and presentations,” says Parker. “All artists have a relationship with new technology; we are just featuring a selection of those who are excited to talk about it.”

WHAT

Moogfest, moogfest.com

WHERE

Diana Wortham Theatre; Asheville Community Theatre; The Millroom; Masonic Temple; Center for Craft, Creativity and Design; The Altamont Theatre; Fine Arts Theatre; Asheville Art Museum; Renaissance Asheville Hotel; Thomas Wolfe Auditorium; U.S. Cellular Center; Asheville Music Hall; The Orange Peel; New Earth; Emerald Lounge; and Broadway Outdoor Stage at Moog Music

WHEN

Wednesday-Sunday, April 23-27. $199 night program/$249 day program/$299 day+night/$49-$89 day tickets

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts writer and editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs.

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