Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Moogfest Pt. 2 (Asheville, NCโ€”4/24/14)

Janelle Monae speaks (Photo courtesy Moogfest)

Janelle Monae speaks (Photo courtesy Moogfest)

Generally speaking, I’m a night owl, and when I travel I revel in my rare opportunities to own the night–even if owlishly.

That said, my capacity for enjoying the day programming offered by Moogfest was admittedly limited. Out of intense curiosity, however, I was able to rise early enough on Thursday, April 24, to catch some of a presentation by Janelle Monae and her collaborators Chuck Lightning and Nate Rocket Wonder.

The session, titled after Monae’s work “The Electric Lady,” took me to the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville’s Pack Place for the first time. The 500-capacity theatre is a great place to catch a chat or a performance of any sort, and I found myself comfortably listening to Monae recount her experiences on tour, creating a series of paintings on stage during performance depicting the self-titled “Electric Lady” in question.

Monae related some of her experiences around the art (music and painting), her feelings about it and her longing for some sort of perfection. She and her cohorts were humbled to report performing at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama a total of five times so far. It gave Monae perspective and inspiration to hear that the First Lady often listened to her music during workouts; she and the others agreed that it gave them an added depth of responsibility to consider the messages behind their music when they knew such influential people were listening to it.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Moogfest Pt. 1 (Asheville, NC–4/23/14)

Thundercat DJs the roof of the Aloft Hotel (Photo courtesy Moogfest)

Thundercat DJs the roof of the Aloft Hotel (Photo courtesy Moogfest)

I’ve always said that, compared to New York, D.C. is a small, sleepy Southern city. It was interesting then last week to somewhat put my money where my mouth is, and go to Asheville, N.C., a truly small Southern city, to attend Moogfest, the annual festival dedicated to the sounds of the synthesizer, and Moog devices in particular.

For five days, the city of Asheville is anything but sleepy, however, as visitors and residents alike rise at 9 a.m. for lectures, insights, demonstrations, presentations and performances, only to stay out until 2 a.m. every night, dancing their hearts out to the likes of Flying Lotus and Dan Deacon.

For my part, I arrived on Wednesday, April 23, the first day, and journeyed to city center, the location of the Aloft Hotel, a Moogfest sponsor. The hotel hosted the Moogfest Urban Art Installation Activation, a gallery featuring 10 large-scale installations designed to enhance the experience of an audience by engaging multimedia and multi-sensory experiences of sound, structure, light and form.

I headed to the roof for an opening party DJ’ed by Thundercat, a recording artist on Brainfeeder who played at our own U Street Music Hall as recently as last Nov. 26.

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