What we saw on Night One:
Hip-hop heavyweight Big Boi brought the house down last night with a set of Outkast hits and stand-out tunes from his hot new album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. Highlights of the set included “Rosa Parks,” “Ms. Jackson,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Shutterbug” and “General Patton.” A powerful live rendition of “Follow Us” featured Kyle Lucas of Vonnegutt singing the hook. And during “The Way You Move,” Big Boi invited a group of ladies on stage to dance as he rapped the refrain: “I like the way you move / I love way you move.”
While his Outkast collaborator Andre 3000 was missed, Big Boi was backed by a ferocious posse of live musicians and singers that included a drummer, guitarist, horn section and super hot female bass player wearing knee high black leather boots. He was also armed with a gang of choreographed backup dancers and hype-men that added to the visual spectacle.
During the live rendition of “Daddy Fat Sax,” the sound turned distressingly towards metal-rap for a moment, but mostly Big Boi rode a deeply funky and danceable Dirty South groove.
— Jake Frankel
If anyone had any doubts that Big Boi is one of the most important figures in modern hip hop music, last night’s performance most certainly proved the man’s merits. The Civic Center was packed and the crowd was bumping like there was no tomorrow and throwing their hands in the “aaaeeyerrr.” The set included an enormous catalogue of Outkast hits, tracks like “Ms. Jackson”, “Bombs Over Baghdad”, “Elevators (Me & You”), “Rosa Parks”, and “Southerplayalistic.” Big Boi also performed several tracks from his new solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot. He closed the set with his solo hit song “Kryptonite” and officially set the roof on fire. [editor’s note: the roof fire was put out quickly and no Moogfest-goers were harmed.]
— Par Neiburger
The electro-psychedelic dork-rockers were best when playing their older tracks like “Time to Pretend,” “Love Always Remains,” “Electric Feel,” and “Destrokk.” Both Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser dropped their guitars and keyboard to prowl around the stage and harmonize during an inspired version of “Kids.”
The swirling pastel light show would have been completely transcendental if you were on acid. It was also pretty cool even if you weren’t tripping.
They lost a lot of their crowd as the set went on. The show was a bit mellow for a prime 9:30 time-slot and a lot of folks seemed like they’d rather be listening to something more danceable. At their best, MGMT came off like a modern day Pink Floyd; at their worst, and during a few of their newer tracks, they were like a boring and wimpy version of The Who.
The crowd went nuts for the big hits, and seemed uncertain in between. About halfway through, folks were leaving en masse for RJD2, which ended up being a bigger draw than organizers may have suspected.
Clare and the Reasons
Clare and the Reasons specialize in delicate chamber-pop with quivering four-part harmonies sweet enough to make a grown man cry. So how did they land on the lineup of an electronic music festival? Who knows, but we’re sure glad they did.
Though the turnout for their Friday set was light, those lucky enough to catch the Brooklyn four-piece were treated to an intimate hour of sparse orchestral magnificance pefectly suited for the theatrical atmosphere of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Each of the four multi-instrumentalists contributed to sweeping vocals and a host of instrumentation — including cello, guitar, violin, kazoo, washboard, recorder, glockenspiel, drums and horns — that resulted in a sound much larger than the band’s numbers. At one point, co-founder Olive Manchon illustrated just how much you can squeeze out of four musicians by performing double duty on recorder and glockenspiel simultaneously, one of the more impressive moments of a wholly awe-inspiring show.
And if the carefully crafted arrangements and stunning musicianship weren’t enough, Clare Manchon’s charming stage banter ensured the attentive and adoring crowd remained planted at the foot of the stage in wonder even after the band ended their set with a stunning rendition of their stringed lament to the former ninth planet, “Pluto.”
— Dane Smith
The Thomas Wolfe felt like an oversized psych lounge for the trippy, cascading set of Panda Bear. The video projections reached across the auditorium, illuminating the entranced faces of the rapt crowd — mostly seated in the back, still standing in the front. I’ve read dreadful reviews of Panda Bear’s live shows, and also praising accounts. For me, the concurrent sets of Panda Bear and Dan Deacon were a reflection of Moogfest’s range: the frenetic, heart-pounding pace of Deacon setting off thousands of dancers in the Civic Center, and a few steps away might as well have been a world. Panda Bear was an oasis of loopingly-lovely, more meditative sound. It was fun to walk back and forth between the two.
— Rebecca Sulock
Panda Bear is a solo project from Noah Lennox of the art rock indie-rock favorites Animal Collective. Much like Animal Collective, Panda Bear is a spaced out soundscape of indie-infused electronica. While many of his earlier records were acoustic-based, his more recent work has relied heavily on samplers and electronics. His set at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium showcased his more recent musical directions. The video projections behind him were an integral part of the performance. Much more than the average video projections as a mere backdrop to a musician’s performance, the video work was extremely integral to the performance and created an engulfing atmosphere inside of Thomas Wolfe that was truly captivating.
Dan Deacon played a fairly impressive set of IDM-influenced experimental electronica. He kept the crowd captivated, if not dancing for a 45-minute set in the Civic Center prior to Girl Talk’s performance. At one point he led the crowd in an interpretive dance that entranced most of the crowd. Anyone that can get an entire stadium full of concert goers performing an interpretive dance deserves respect.
I’ve seen Girl Talk many times now and all I can think every time is “Damn, why didn’t I think of this.” Anyone who has spent years DJing can tell you that there’s nothing technical marvelous about what he does. Really, anyone with Ableton Live and the right tracks could do it, technically speaking. But Girl Talk does it so seamlessly and mastered the art of the 30-second sample before anyone else had the foresight to do things the way he does. It’s like the classically cliché reaction to a piece of abstract art: “I could have done that.” The point is that you didn’t, someone else thought of it, and it’s much more about what it means in the broader context of the art form for its particular time and place. Much the way someone like Marcel Duchamp innovated contemporary art by signing his name on a toilet seat, it’s not the technical skill that’s impressive about Girl Talk, it’s his art in this particular context of modern music that makes his sets so impressive. His knowledge of popular music and the way he masterfully blends together tracks that everyone recognizes while crossing seemingly disparate genres, is like a statement about modern music without even needing to say anything. And you have to admire a man who with one laptop and a bunch of samples can keep an entire stadium dancing past 2 in the morning.
The reactions I heard to Girl Talk last night ranged from the indifferent and slightly confused to rave reviews. From my vantage point, about 20 yards in front of the sound board on the sticky floor of the Asheville Civic Center, I saw nothing but a writhing, bouncing, dancing, certifiably into it crowd.
There’s something to be said for anyone that can churn the theme from Ghostbusters into a thumping dance anthem. When Thriller was thrown into the mix, draped over a driving, pulsating rhythm, a good handful of the people on the floor instantly swung into a frenetic, MJ-inspired zombie shuffle.
The artist, who first appeared on stage dressed like Freddie Krueger, periodically leapt onto his equipment table to further (effectually) whip the crowd into a dancing frenzy. Whether the mash-up style of Girl Talk is anything original or fascinating in itself was a non-issue. Moogfesters came to get down.
The spectacle of the wildly dancing group of spectators on stage was entertaining enough in itself. The Easter bunny and a cowgirl held court with a gaggle of indians and a disco queen or two while the DJ bobbed and bounced to his beats.
For pictures of the performance, check Rick Orris’ slide show here.
— Mackensy Lunsford
A word of advice:
The line to get into the Orange Peel to see RJD2 wrapped all the way up to the Hot Dog King and the late-night Bonobo show in the Moogaplex was pretty much impossible to get into. It doesn’t seem like there will be any problems getting into shows at the Civic Center and Thomas Wolfe this weekend, but be warned: If you want to get into some of the smaller venues you should go well ahead of time. Our guess is that tonight’s Four Tet show at the Peel (12:45-2) will be a tough one to get into.
A guy dressed like Joaquin Phoenix from the mocumentary “I’m Still Here.” The guy had the Joaquin turned mentally-deranged hip hop musician aesthetic down. He looked just like the character. It was quite impressive.
I saw so many awesome costumes. So did our photographer Jonathan Welch. Check it.