Dispatches from Moogfest: Day one

We’ve been exploring Planet Moogfest from horizon to horizon; Here’s a roundup of thoughts and photos from day one of the epic musical and cultural event. Moogfest continues all weekend at venues throughout downtown Asheville. Check out our full live ongoing coverage here.

Performer Who Played the Most Hits Award: Moby

Moby led his band with glee, running around the stage and fist-pumping at the crowd as he switched between keys, drums, guitar and bongos. The crowd was huge and into it, a writhing sea of undulating bodies crammed as close to the stage as possible. The music was superb, but perhaps better was just how much fun everybody — on stage or off — was having with it.

His creativity and joy were infectious. At one point he looked out at the audience and said: “Of all the festivals I’ve ever played in my life, this is the one I’m most proud of performing at.” You could tell he meant it.

Other quotes spoken by Moby as he performed:

“Moog is all about thoughtful and intelligent music…this song is neither. I think it may be the stupidest song I’ve ever written, but it’s fun to shake your booty to…” Cue “Body Rock”!

“I love quantum physics and disco. This song is about both.” Cue “Quantum Physics”!

And it was fun to watch his tweets yesterday (@thelittleidiot). A recap:

• just arrived in asheville. playing between holy f*ck and tv on the radio friday. i’m honored. also getting a tour of moog factory! woo!
• Playing acoustic songs on daytrotter.com this afternoon
• Just got an amazing tour of moog factory and store. It might be the greatest place on the planet.
• Now eating at plant vegan restaurant. Asheville is pretty idyllic.
• Thanks moogfest! Very excited to see tv on the radio now. What a great festival. Thanks again!

– J.L., J.F., A.M

Haiku Review: Mayor Hawthorne

Sexy, dance party
Lots of high-pitch oohs and awes.
Organic, live, smooth.

– J.F.

Top quotes from Mayor Hawthorne spoken from band members as they performed:

“Don’t laugh if any of us fall of the stage, man. This shit is treacherous!”
“I’m up here sliding around and I got boogers in my nose and shit!”
“We’re gonna keep this shit moving because it’s f—king freezing out here. Y’all ready for some dancing? That’s the only way to keep warm out here.” 

Haiku Review: Chromeo

Sexy and funny!
A parody of themselves!
Totally rad fun!

– J.F.

Stray observations:

• I saw a lot of costumes: Beetlejuice, Rosie the Riveter, a glow-in-the-dark skunk, but the best have to be the two people I saw in an elk and a giraffe mask respectively, butting heads during Mayer Hawthorne’s potent soul. 

• Speaking of Beetlejuice, Flying Lotus claimed during his set that the Tim Burton flick is the greatest film of all time and that he could debate that point for hours. I’d like to take that challenge. 

• The entrance to the Civic Center Complex is a mess. Make sure to show up early if you want to see the beginning of a set.

• Overheard: “I’m not on drugs. All … the only thing I’ve had to drink is alcohol,” wasted fan being escorted out of Civic Center Complex.

• If you get hungry at Animoog, hit up the Pink Taco Truck. Scarfed down a pumpkin taco with a sweet, spicy glaze and perhaps the best pork taco I’ve ever had. Also, the Dia de los Muertos face paint sported by the staff was pretty cool.

• Missed araabMUZIK because of the insanely long line outside of Asheville Music Hall. Could having the last set each night take place in one of the smallest venues be a mistake?

– J.L.

Fine Peduncle

Saw Fine Peduncle at Asheville Music Hall. I really think that was the highlight of my Friday. He’s such a unique performer — parts Prince, Little Richard and Beck with songs about insects and sex and insect sex. Which is weird. The whole performance is weird, but it’s also wholly authentic. I think its great to see a performer who’s willing to be a rock star and just go there in front of an audience. On Thursday, I met Brian Eno briefly at the YMI center, and when we were talking I suggested he check out Fine Peduncle. Last night, I saw him at the show and asked him what he thought. He said it was “brilliant.”

– A.M.

Biggest disappointment of the night: TV on the Radio

The intricacies of their psych-funk-rock were lost in the echoey chambers of the Civic Center. That the volume was abrasively loud didn’t help.The result was too much grump and growl, not enough subtlety and owl.

– J.F.

Shahzad Ismaily

When the rain started picking up during Mayor Hawthorne’s set, I took a momentary respite in the Diana Wortham Auditorium to check out Shahzad Ismaily. A solo performance, he went back and forth between a Moog synth and a small percussion rig, creating sonic atmospheric space that alternated between really cool and really silly. The more graceful moments summoned a higher musical power; the more clumsy ones sounded like the performance of a 12-year-old trying to figure out how to play instruments for the first time. He ended the set by picking up a guitar and singing a warm song, but stopped abruptly in the middle, perhaps upset after someone’s cell-phone rang.

– J.F.

The Antlers

This Brooklyn indie rock group filled the cavernous Asheville Civic Center with soaring falsetto songs and driving dissonant jams. All the members were careful to wear the indie rock uniform of tight black jeans rolled over black boots.

Quote of the show (Antlers keyboardist Darby Cicci): “Bob Moog’s invention of the modular synthesizer as a musical instrument pretty much defined my entire life and I wish he was here.”

– J.F.

Tangerine Dream

Double Moog synth action!
Chick drummer in black S&M leather!
Old German dude in a cowboy hat!
Smoooooth guitar licks!

I dreamt they tried to take me on a journey, to a musical landscape that I didn’t want to visit.

Top Tweet-review of the set (by @veryanal):

Tangerine Dream is what I imagine riding a unicorn while on drugs is like #moogfest

– J.F.

Holy F**k:

Grimes

Grimes = one girl, one laptop and a microphone. She literally just hits play and sings over her own tracks. Yawn. I left after three songs. She did at least dress up for Halloween, in a skeleton outfit with eerie white face paint, so I give her credit for that.

On a positive note, while I was in the men’s bathroom during her set, every guy in there washed his hands. Every single one. They actually waited politely in a line by the sink. Grimes fans get major points for hygiene.

– M.B.

Assorted day-one photos from the Orange Peel:

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3 thoughts on “Dispatches from Moogfest: Day one

  1. JOHN-C

    Tangerine Dream really needs more exposure… These guys are legends and state of the art performers… Way beyond trends…

    • Jeff Palmer

      Aren’t those cats the ones who did the “Risky Business” movie soundtrack in the 80’s ?

  2. bill smith

    “:Of all the festivals I’ve ever played in my life, this is the one I’m most proud of performing at.”

    Riiiiight.

    Holy F rules.

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