The weekend of Asheville’s premier technology, music, and arts festival, Moogfest, was a Mecca for all walks of life. This vintage city was outlined with street musicians of the mountain folk traditions, hidden graffiti, and a stunning skyline. The scenic mountain background, navigable streets, various cuisine, and earthy personas make it a suitable fit for festivities and good karma.
One of the more favorable qualities of Asheville was the amount of people who spent more time savoring their surroundings, whether in a coffee shop or at the various Moogfest jollifications, instead of their cell phones. Another was the breeze of walking to almost all locations. If a car was needed downtown, parking was also quick to obtain.
Upon our afternoon arrival, we were quick to sink our ears and eyes to our surroundings. Just under the interstate bridge were three hands-on art experiments for all ages. A block from the main stage on Broadway Street was the Moog Store, a collection of instrumental testers, clothing and accessories, and live performances. Just outside were a line of beer and merchandise tents that led up to the performance. Phone charging stations were just behind each tent with hand crafted wooden seating blocks.
Headliners Egyptian Lover, Mix Master Mike, and Giorgio Moroder were crowd pleasers, from toddlers to grandparents alike. Mix Master Mike was apart from the three, very renowned for his scratching skills but equally unmatched by his mixing techniques.
Festival-goers got to brush up on creative skills of their own on various synthesizers and visual aids. Google Creatives did Q&A’s at the Asheville Community Theater while Dan Deacon did a remarkable performance at the Center for Craft, Creativity, & Design.
Deacon’s set up of several speakers, plus synthesizers, all attached to a piano took hours but was worth the wait. He was able to control the piano by means of his mixers; attracting a massive crowd. His partners in crime, Hisham Bharoocha & Jesse Hlebo accompanied him on visual backgrounds.
A swift trip up to the mountains to catch the sunset was refreshing as we geared up for a jam-packed evening of music.
Electro junkies Zeds Dead were a fruitful bunch lighting up Broadway Outdoor. The headliners drew in a younger mass complete with hula-hoopers and hacky sack dancers. With the completion of their set, the crowd flocked toward the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium for the majestic M.I.A.
The buzzing build-up of energy entering the maxed out auditorium was matched by a zestful performance. Maya’s DJ was well received; paralleled by her backup dancers/vocalists. M.I.A., herself was, as always, dynamic and very mobile.
Her rapid lyrics of political/philosophical references are combined with her electronic sample sounds. Background visuals represented her Sri Lankan heritage and album artworks. She was also interactive with her fans, which is always a plus for any entertainer. The sweet sticky sweat of dancing patrons amplified the overall performance. Whether one was a fan or side-liner, M.I.A. live is stimulating.
Once again, the masses made their way towards the last few Moogfest performers of the night. This included Mark Farina at Asheville’s Music Hall, Blondes at Diana Wortham RVNG INTL Showcase, Patten at the New Earth Main Room (apart of Afropunk series), and DLX at the New Earth Side Room. Despite the array, we chose to book it to The Orange Peel for RJD2.
If there were an award for the friendliest music venue, The Orange Peel would take the lot. The staff was mindful of patrons and media and took turns at various stations. The line for RJD2 took up an entire street and once inside, it was clear to see why.
The conceptual live experience of this multi-instrumental DJ was as if one were in the studio hearing and seeing all instrumentalists at once. His percussionist had such rapid movement; it was difficult to see his hands. Each attendee was in an individual state of mind creating one groovy atmosphere.
Sunday served up several house DJ’s, last minute panels, and VIP closing parties. If you want to experience a festival without the traffic, overbooked hotels, and overpriced attendance fees; Moogfest is a must. The cuisine is divine and has favorable tastes from around the world. The mountains are just a 20-minute drive from downtown and well worth spending time gazing over the city. Overall, Moogfest and Asheville are an experience all their own, respectively. Together, it makes a lifetime memory.
Photos by: Maria Boutzoukas