Fans of indie rock and electronic music will find plenty of music at this year's Moogfest that fits easily into common archetypes of those genres. That's not a bad thing. Seeing familiar styles executed to perfection can be one of the most rewarding experiences in music. But what's the fun of spending an entire festival inundated by common styles — even if they are played by a fleet of talented musicians?
Luckily for Moogfest-goers, this won't be a problem. Peppered into this year's lineup is a small battalion of artists who stand out not just because of their skill, but because they play music that defies easy categorization. These include genre pioneers, such as the criminally under-appreciated Suicide, who pretty much invented synth pop in 1977 and continue to redefine the constraints of that genre; and mercurial masterminds such as Dan Deacon, whose Technicolor sound collages appeal to indie kids and electronic aficionados alike — he’ll also flex his funny bone with the Wham City Comedy troupe.
Featured in this section are the artists who cross-pollinate different styles, who push familiar techniques into unfamiliar territory or who have simply mastered styles that aren't otherwise featured at this year's festival. Exploring the familiar can be a lot of fun, and there will be plenty of such thrills to be had over the next 72 hours. But when you tire of the expected and are ready to throw a curve ball into your Moogfest schedule, these are the artists that will help you spice up your weekend. — J.L.
Brandt Brauer Frick: Blending the structures of techno and jazz in an acoustic setting, Brandt Brauer Frick find fertile new ground. Buzzing synths become booming bass lines, and organic keys and strings melt the rigid instrumentation of the group's electronic inspirations into a loose, hypnotic swell that's a joy to get lost in. — J.L.
The Drums: The Drums' engaging post-rock digs into the moody atmospherics of genre hallmarks such as Joy Division, but there's a new wave bounce in their step. Bass lines pogo with restless energy, installing a sense of bittersweet determination into the band's gorgeously melancholic melodies. — J.L.
Childish Gambino: Donald Glover is best known as a hot young star on the NBC comedy Community, but as Childish Gambino he's one of the best up-and-coming MCs in the country. Glover sports a rough, frenetic delivery akin to Tyler, The Creator, but his wordplay eschews his peer's graphic nature, opting instead for a never-ending string of hyper-intelligent punchlines. — J.L.
Moon Duo: Moon Duo's dark textures and perky melodies create a sound that somehow manages to be oppressive and kinetic all at once. Distorted walls of keys and guitar press down onto aggressive rhythms and catchy vocals, luring listeners into their psychedelic squall without forsaking a scary edge. — J.L.
Beats Antique: Beats Antique mix dub and club sounds with Middle Eastern and African elements to create a rich, danceable milieu that avoids alienating listeners even as it expands their horizons. Bold, choppy beats meet with potently distilled international sounds for a mix that's as forceful as it is cerebral. — J.L.
araabMUZIK: As a beat maker for artists such as Cam'ron and Busta Rhymes, araabMUZIK is something of an underground icon. Building from minimalist drum machine beats, his compositions expand in dense, complicated directions that include brash club synths, eerie sound effects and throbbing bass. Now with an acclaimed solo album to his credit (2011's Electronic Dream) he's ready for his time in the spotlight. — J.L.
Terry and Gyan Riley: Terry Riley's A Rainbow in Curved Air is a minimalist landmark. Composed in 1969, it's a dizzying blur of whirring synth lines that chase each other in entrancing loops for almost 20 minutes. It's a forward-thinking burst of keyboard-bound energy, and it still rings true today. At Moogfest, Riley and his accomplished guitar-playing son, Gyan Riley, will perform the work with a selection of other pieces – a rare treat and a fitting tribute to Bob Moog's boundary-obliterating legacy. — J.L.
From glam rock to visual art, Brian Eno has not only participated in most of the major movements of art and music spanning five decades, but has pioneered much of it. Roxy Music serves as his jumping-off point during the '70s; from there he went on to more experimental forms of music, delving into ambient soundscapes while also working with the likes of David Bowie, Devo, Talking Heads. U2, Coldplay and Moogfest performer Hans-Joachim Roedelius' band Cluster. Eno's 3-D art installations (such as his 77 Million Paintings, which will be on display during Moogfest) creates an evolving sound and image exhibit that no two viewers experience in the same way. — A.M.
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