Night three of MoogFest 2010 quickly flew by in a festival fatigue blur of Halloween costumes and great preformances. I slept right through the Sunday afternoon panels and slowly made my way downtown intending to let the festival take me where it may rather than over thinking the schedule as I normally would. My one constant was that I would be closing out MoogFest at The Orange Peel with El-P. A good judge of a festival line-up is that it should offer you a good time no matter what sets you end up at. Schedule conflicts are par for the course with big festivals, a stress free way to avoid them is to float from stage to stage taking in whatever performance presents itself. After two nights of attacking the festival with the precision planning of a bank heist, I enjoyed a care-free closing night that presented some real surprises that I might have otherwise missed. Continue reading →
My second day of MoogFest began with an afternoon trip to the Moogaplex, to fiddle around with some Moog instruments first-hand and to attend one of the many afternoon discussion panels about the history of Moog instruments. I finally fulfilled a life-long dream of playing a Theremin. I played three different Moog Theremins actually, as well as a few different models of Moog synthesizers. I was not the only one in attendance having fun with the instrument petting zoo. There were about 30 or 40 people anxiously waiting in line to get their paws on a Moog. I can not think of another music festival where the fans get a chance to play with high-tech gear such as this. A very special treat provided by Moog Music.
The panel I attended was a narrated, power-point presentation about the treasure trove of Moog artifacts discovered in Moog’s country workshop and garage after he passed away. Thanks to a Grammy Foundation grant and countless hours of volunteer effort hundreds of documents, artifacts, and recordings have been cataloged and preserved. The panel made it very clear that this is an ongoing preservation effort and that donations would be helpful in saving all of this music history. Within this mountain of Moog documents all sorts of tidbits and trivia are being discovered. One example is that Moog’s first synthesizer prototypes were capable of polyphonic sound.* This was unknown to Moog historians until just a few years ago. The panel was the first time this information was made public; in a most spectacular way. By playing a recording of it.
For about ten minutes, Moog’s sound archivist played selections from rare recordings discovered in Moog’s workshop. These were some of the earliest synth recordings and proved fascinating listens. Two notable recordings were a riotous synth solo by Sun Ra and the earliest known recording by master synthesist Wendy Carlos. I’ll admit it was pretty mind-blowing to hear a recording of Wendy Carlos noodling around with a synthesizer for the very first time!** Hearing some of the earliest synthesizer demo recordings ever made was the perfect way to get psyched up for the performances ahead.
Last weekend, in scenic Asheville North Carolina, AC Entertainment and Moog Music teamed up to present a revamped and relocated version of the annual MoogFest; a festival celebrating inventor Robert Moog’s massive influence on the world of music. The festival spanned Halloween weekend offering three spectacular nights of music and two days of informative panel discussions and Moog instrument demonstrations. The music schedule offered a perfect blend of sonic innovators, high-energy dance DJs, and envelope pushing Pop acts that showcased the wide-ranging world of electronic music.
The festival took over five music venues in downtown Asheville ranging from a makeshift nightclub in a gallery space, to a dive bar, to the Orange Peel (Asheville’s 9:30 Club equivalent), to the classy Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, all the way up to the cavernous Asheville Civic Center. At times MoogFest felt like two festivals in one; the first, a large-scale non-stop dance party for the party hearty; the second, an equally entertaining but more cerebral music geek nirvana of Moog instrument-fueled performances. The beauty of MoogFest 2010 was watching and listening to these two different worlds of performers and audiences cross-pollinate all weekend long.
If you are looking to get out of town this Halloween weekend to avoid the crush of Colbert/Stewart fans, Marine Corp Marathon runners, and trick-or-treaters (have I left anything out?) then might I suggest that you hop on a bus, train, or plane down to scenic Asheville, North Carolina for MoogFest 2010. Trade the Comedy Central rallies’ rumble for the large-scale trip-hop of Massive Attack. Leave those marathon runners behind for an evening with Thievery Corporation. Pull a trick this year instead of giving out treats and head to North Carolina to witness the large-scale weirdness of MGMT.
MoogFest 2010 is a three-day music festival taking place in multiple indoor venues in downtown Asheville on October 29, 30, 31. This unique festival is designed to celebrate the life, inventions, and influence of sonic innovator Robert Moog by inviting over 20 world-renowned, electronic music acts to perform over the course of this weekend. Robert Moog was the inventor of the Moog keyboards and synthesizers, a true music pioneer whose inventions have enabled thousands of musicians to push the boundaries of sound for decades. Asheville, NC is where Moog based his business and his home for the last 30 years of his life.
Every year, there are many Moog Fests around the world dedicated to Moog and his instruments. These specialized events are usually smaller and intended for die-hard Moog enthusiasts. This year the Moog Institute in partnership with AC Entertainment (the organizers of the Bonnaroo Music Festival) have decided to combine all of these smaller Moog festivals into one gigantic celebration of electronic music and sonic exploration. MoogFest 2010 is a high-profile gathering of electronic artists and musically innovative Pop acts that is going to prove to be one of the most interesting, large-scale festivals of the year.