Posts Tagged ‘MoogFest’

Electronic Bliss at Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit.

November 3, 2013

logoThree nights of electronic music blazed forth the weekend of October 25-27 at the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit in Asheville, North Carolina.  Scattered across Asheville’s compact downtown in five different venues ranging from a bar to an arena, musicians plugged in with a range of electronic dreams.  One musician was 77 years old with sounds that date back to 1968 while others dialed up computerized grooves from the future.  And a few of them weren’t really electronic at all.

MOEMS Halloween revelers Photo: Criss Images.

MOEMS Halloween revelers Photo: Criss Images.

The Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit is the child of Moogfest who was kicked out of the house after three successful years.  The Moog Corporation took back the licensing of their name for their own festival scheduled to be held in April.  But original producers of Moogfest, picked up right where they left off in 2012 without missing a step and only making a name change.

The festival was never a “Moog” festival to start with but with MOEMS the range expanded considerable to embrace music from across music frontiers.  The range of the music could be triangulated in three acts, Jherek Bischoff, Silver Apples and Bassnectar.

Bass Nectar in Space Photo: Crissimages

Bass Nectar in Space+
Photo: Crissimages

Bassnectar was the revelation of the festival for me.  It’s one guy, Lorin Ashton, who stood on stage flanked by two laptops with a mélange of electronics in the middle.  I got there a few moments late and as I approached the Exploreasheville.com Arena (one of the silliest venue names ever), you could hear the building shuddering from the bass inside.  Entering from the back of the hall to a throng of bobbing people in full Halloween regalia on the floor, I felt like I was literally sucked into the crowd by Bassnectar’s hypnotic, throbbing beat.  As I threaded my way to the middle of the arena, Ashton bounced around onstage, long hair flailing as he moved from computer to computer, stopping in the middle to twist knobs, tap pads and swirl around on a Kaos Pad or two.   In fact, he didn’t seem to be on stage at all, but dissolved into a three dimensional landscape of shifting images projected front, back and sides.  Giant butterflies, rotating diagrams, digital noise and landscapes all moved in a constant flow.  Electronic rhythms pounded out of the speakers, as Ashton created drama and movement not through conventional melody but a collection of sound effects, electronic glitches and crushing grooves that dissolved before the inevitable bass drop.  He rebuilt tracks from his albums, including his remix of Nina Simone’s classic “Feeling Good.” I wondered if anyone in the audience recognized the jazz artists who were projected in distorted imagery during that track.  It could be argued that Bird, Diz and Max were the rave artists of their day, although I doubt few there knew who they were, let alone realized that none of them were on that 1965 Simone cut.

I’m still from the “If it’s too loud, you’re too old” school.  But as ecstatic as Bassnectar’s performance was, by the end of his set,  the deep bass and the volume, over 112 decibels, became physically nauseating.

Silver Apples' Simeon @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Silver Apples’ Simeon @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

After Bassnectar’s arena filling audio-visual spectacle, Silver Apples seemed….. quaint.  Silver Apples was a drum and electronics duo from 1968.  Simeon Coxe made all his electronic sounds from an array of audio oscillators triggered with telegraph keys. They released two cult albums before breaking up, but they were unarguably the first electronic pop band.

Silver Apples Oscillations

Silver Apples Oscillations

Now 77 years old, a little frail and bespectacled with short, thin white hair, Simeon is the only surviving member of the group. His technology has been updated, but the sound remains almost exactly the same.  He even uses a trio of audio oscillators on which he plays his lead melodies and noises.  He performed music from those first two albums spinning oscillator melodies with the ghost of Danny Taylor’s drums.  Singing in a reedy voice against psychedelic projections, he intoned the largely trippy psychedelic lyrics of the band earnestly, but also with a bit of humor.  It was a charming performance.

Jherek Bischoff Ukelele Unplugged @ MOEMS

Jherek Bischoff Ukelele Unplugged @ MOEMS

And then there’s Jherek Bischoff.  Ironically, he was the opening act of the festival, the irony being, he wasn’t electronic at all, launching this “Electronic” Music Summit with a ukelele.  But then, there’s a lot of arch irony in this young musician. Standing at 6’3” he seemed even taller with a light brown pompadour and wearing a skinny tuxedo.  He was like a cross between Buster Poindexter and Pee Wee Herman with the overbite of Kenneth from 30 Rock.

Other than his electric bass, which was a hollow-bodied violin-style Paul McCartney model, he was all acoustic, playing with a local string quartet. Bischoff makes a quirky instrumental sound that’s part chamber music, part easy-listening and part bossa nova with a pop sensibility.  His set was mostly instrumental except for a couple of songs where he was joined by singer Jen Goma from People Get Ready. Playing music from his twin albums, Composed and Scores: Composed Instrumentals, Bischoff charmed the crowd with his aww-shucks manner and compositions that suggested a more elegant time.  He also performed a couple of songs from a forthcoming ambient album, one of which ended his set with tremulous strings while small bells rang out from the back of the theatre creating an ethereal 3D soundscape. Performing in the lovely Diana Wortham Theater with its plush seats and vaguely Art Deco décor, it was a long way, in every regard, from Bassnectar’s sweating arena assault

God Speed You! Black Emperor Hide & Seek @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

God Speed You! Black Emperor Hide & Seek @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

You could find this contrast all over Mountain Oasis.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a post-rock who were more guitar metal and noise than electronic although they certainly spent a lot of time adjusting their many signal processors.  They played the big arena but shrunk their stage plot to a small semi-circle barricaded by guitar amps where all the guitarists sat down, staring at their foot pedals or kneeled down on the floor.   Two percussionists were in shadows while the violinist and upright bassist stood impassively.  In the dark, with only their black & white  post-apocalypse urban landscapes and noise projections giving them any light, they unleashed a one hour assault of overdrive guitar glory, occasionally breaking the fog of distortion for some sweet violin melodies or glissando guitar and glockenspiel in the midst of the storm.

Trent Reznor With Nine Inch Nails @MOEMS

Trent Reznor With Nine Inch Nails @MOEMS

Trent Reznor of NIN Ready to Rumble @MOEMS Photo: Criss Images

Trent Reznor of NIN Ready to Rumble @MOEMS Photo: Criss Images

In certain ways, Godspeed is the avant-garde edge of the full frontal assault brought by Nine Inch Nails. Founder Trent Reznor, in biceps baring muscle shirt, fronted his musically muscular band illuminated by an elaborate light array. They played a lot of music from their latest album, Hesitation Marks, grinding out unyielding grooves to back up Reznor’s songs of anguish and angst.   There was little let-up in intensity except for a clunky Reznor keyboard solo and some inexplicable kamencheh, a middle eastern violin.  Other than that it was all slabs of distorted guitar, relentless drumming and electronic screams.

NIN can become plodding at times, but that wasn’t the case with a musician who influenced Trent Reznor: Gary Numan. This isn’t the robotic Numan of the “Cars” era.  He hasn’t been that way for a while.  With his jet black dyed hair, black t-shirt and black jeans, Numan was a Jesus of angst, flinging his arms out like Christ on the cross and jerking his body in tune to the music, often pouring water on his head and shaking it out like he’s just emerged from a baptismal bath.

Gary Numan Croonin' @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Gary Numan Croonin’ @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Numan’s voice is better than it has ever been. He’s lost that nasally whine and replaced it with an aggressive snarl.  He played several tracks from his latest album, Splinter (Songs of a Broken Mind) and several songs from his later period which mixes electronics and metal.  During a public interview session with journalist Geary Yelton earlier in the day, Numan lamented that people still only remember him for “Cars” (and in England “Are Friends Electric?”), but he pulled it out during his concert and played it with passion, albeit with a bit of a heavier edge.  But he didn’t have to.  This wasn’t a nostalgia audience.  They were as ready for Splinter’s “I Am Dust” as they were for “Down in the Park” from Replicas.  Gary Numan has been back for a while.  It’s time people caught up with him.

It was impossible to catch every act at the festival which featured five venues spread across 15 minutes walking distance with overlapping shows.  But except for two regrettable instances, I went nonstop music sets from 7 until 2 AM 3 nights in a row.

Darkside in Darkness @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Darkside in Darkness @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

They were all highlights.  The duo called Darkside played before an impressively large audience in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, considering they only have one album out, Psychic.  Like Godspeed, they favored shadows, standing in twin cones of low, smoke filled light, delivering snarling guitar leads over throbbing electronic drums and sequences like a pong game on acid. They recalled the little known French band Heldon circa 1978 and shared their dystopian vision.  It was like we were all in a bunker with bombs going off outside.

Ron & Russell Mael of Sparks - Life is a Cabaret @ MOEMS

Ron & Russell Mael of Sparks – Life is a Cabaret @ MOEMS

The long-lived band, Sparks,  was more in line with Bischoff than anything else at the festival. The brothers Ron & Russel Mael took the large Diana Wortham stage and planted Ron far left at a single Roland keyboard (which he had renamed Ronald)  while Russell roamed around the otherwise empty stage. They call it their “Two Hands, One Mouth” tour. Apply sexual innuendo here.  Ron has traded in his Hitler mustache for a pencil look.  With his trousers hiked up above his waist, short hair slicked back and scowling eyes behind round hornrimmed glasses, he was like the cranky old geezer down the street.  Russell looked discomfortingly like a Hitler youth which is a good trick since he’s 65.  He had his black hair swept across his forehead Adolf-style, wearing black shirt, black tie and black shorts.  That image was intentionally undermined, however, by his black tights and black and white patent leather saddle shoes with the toes curved up in elfin fashion.

SantasElves-blcphotography11Their show was a cross between Joel Grey’s Cabaret and a Broadway tryout as they romped through their catalog with no accompaniment or backing tracks.  It was an arch performance to say the least with Russell Mael still able to summon that calliope voice.  It highlighted the fact that Sparks aren’t really rock musicians, but performance artists closer to Laurie Anderson than Mick Jagger.  You could easily imagine Anderson singing “Your Call’s Very Important To Us, Please Hold.”  They seemed thrown off early on by monitor sound issues.  At one point both musicians heatedly stormed the offstage mixing board.  But they settled in for an entertaining, if austere set.  And no one loved it more than Jherek Bishoff who sported a happy lunatic grin throughout the show.

Alan Howarth Trick or Death @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Alan Howarth Trick or Death @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

On the same stage, Alan Howarth played his film music.  Best known for his work scoring John Carpenter films, he was accompanied by a manipulated video collage of movie clips including Escape from New York, Halloween II-infinity and They Live.  He assayed his scores with backing tracks while he played electric keyboard and synth-guitar.  It was an engaging medley that harkened back to an older electronic sound.

King Britt Getting Digable @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

King Britt Getting Digable @ MOEMS
Photo: Diliberto

Philadelphia’s King Britt made his second festival appearance with his latest project, Fhloston Paradigm, named for Fhloston Paradise, the resort spaceship in The Fifth Element. Joined on stage by singer Pia Ercole and live visuals from Mike Todd, they created some deep space music that had EDM edges but was more redolent of 70s German space music.  Ercole sang wordless vocals that were looped, relying a bit too much on long oohs and aahs, while Britt played keyboards and computer creating deep throb ostinato rhythms and swirling textures.

Purity Ring's Megan James @ MOEMS  Photo: Diliberto

Purity Ring’s Megan James @ MOEMS
Photo: Diliberto

I only caught a few songs from Animal Collective and Purity Ring, both of which seemed to have lively sets going. AC sat inside what looked like a abstract cartoon gap toothed mouth with projections on the teeth and roof of the mouth.  Purity Ring, a duo called in at the last minute to sub for Tricky, had no staging but diminutive vocalist Megan James held the audience, confidently singing their bright synth-pop.  Corin Roddick held down the electronic side, surrounded by what looked like small Chinese lanterns that the two would strike with drum sticks although their effect was somewhat ambiguous.

Animal Collective Open WInd @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Animal Collective Open WInd @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

I regretfully missed Ulrich Schnauss and William Basinski and I wanted to see them both.  And after hearing Bassnectar, I would’ve liked to have seen Pretty Lights with a full band.  Bands like Deltron 3030 gave massive shows to the rap side of the spectrum.

Alex Patterson & Thomas  Fehlman of The Orb @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Alex Patterson & Thomas Fehlman of The Orb @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

The festival ended with the now venerable ambient avatars, The Orb.  Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, The Orb is essentially the bald-headed Alex Paterson and whoever he can rope in with him.  For MOEMS it was electronic artist Thomas Fehlmann.  On the medium sized club stage of The Orange Peel, The Orb instantly set the mood with an abstract collage opening of found sounds, music snippets, disembodied spoken word, all swirling in a beat-free swirl.  The full house stood patiently waiting, letting their minds rove free in Orb space.  Then the rhythm kicked in and everyone went crazy.

Alex Patterson of The Orb at the controls @ MOEMS Photo: Diliberto

Alex Patterson of The Orb at the controls @ MOEMS
Photo: Diliberto

This was classic Orb as Patterson picked up vinyl LPs, slotted in CDs and mixed and matched his sounds against the beats of Fehlman and the live mixed video projections which were by turns abstract, surreal and deliriously funny.  The Orb dropped in Miles Davis organ, Easy Listening strings, cartoon music, lots of dub, random announcements, old instruction records and a collage of noise. He didn’t play “Little Fluffy Clouds” but he did slip in the sequencer riff.

Like Silver Apples, there was quaintness to The Orb.  Their techniques harken back to early musique concrète of Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer, only with a beat.  And unlike acts such as Bassnectar, they are avant-gardists at heart.  But they kept the room enthralled with the least amount of audience churn I experienced at the festival and proved a satisfying conclusion to a festival that looks backwards and forwards, sometimes simultaneously.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))WorldsBeyond

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Moogfest Gone? Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit Here?

December 10, 2012

A press release was just issued notifying us about a change at Moogfest, namely that it will no longer be called Moogfest, but the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit (MOEMS?)  I could be wrong, but if I’m to read between the lines of the release, I suspect that they couldn’t come to an amenable financial arrangement regarding the licensing of the Moog name.  Apparently it will still be held in Asheville, NC although the time of year may change.

Press Release Below.

KNOXVILLE, TN – AC Entertainment announced today that it will rename its multi-day electronic music festival in Asheville, NC, as the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit for 2013, continuing to build on the success of the past three years when the event has been produced as Moogfest.

“The fans have embraced the festival with overwhelming enthusiasm during the past three years. They love the music, they love Asheville, and we are committed to continuing to evolve with them to create the very best festival experience that we can imagine, ” says AC Entertainment CEO, Ashley Capps.

From 2010 through 2012, Moogfest presented some of the greatest names in electronic music, hosting such artists as Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, Orbital, Tangerine Dream, Jonsi, Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, Brian Eno, and dozens of others. The event has featured educational panels, workshops, talks, installations, and art exhibitions in addition to numerous musical performances. Along the way the festival has received international acclaim from many publications, including NPR Music, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

The re-naming of the festival comes in the wake of Moog Music Inc. electing not to re-license the Moogfest name to AC Entertainment. “We received a letter from them following this year’s festival, so we have no choice really but to re-name it. We have enjoyed booking, marketing and producing our event for our fans and want to continue with them on this creative journey,” explains Capps.”We’re taking this opportunity to rethink the event a bit and challenge ourselves. While we are still focused on Halloween weekend, that time of year has its difficulties and we’ve been encouraged to consider other options. This part of the world is a very special place – hence the name, Mountain Oasis. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and there’s so much more to explore.”

Details about Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit will be released in 2013.

AND don’t forget to vote in the Best of Echoes 2012 Poll NOW!

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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Tangerine Dream Live at Moogfest

January 20, 2012

Is It Safe To Listen To Tangerine Dream Again?

Tangerine Dream's Founder Edgar Froese

This might come a bit late but I’ve come across very  little coverage about it since Moogfest 2011 at the end of October.  Tangerine Dream headlined the festival and did a 2 hour show.  Like many fans, I’ve become a bit inurred to the band.  You can understand why with albums like Under Cover – Chapter One, on which they do covers of pop hits that are often faithful (The Eagles‘ “Hotel California”) and sometimes excruciating reinventions (Kraftwerk’s “The Model”).  Either way: This is Tangerine Dream?

But I just found out that they are in the processing of booking a US tour and that made me look online again.  And I discovered this great performance from Moogfest.  NPR put up their entire 2 hour show, and while it’s not classic-era 70’s TD, it is an extension of that sound with a full band.   The sound, probably a board feed, isn’t spectacular, but the performance is actually worth sitting through.  I can’t remember the last time I said that about Tangerine Dream, and I really want too.

Here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/event/music/141658754/tangerine-dream-in-concert-moogfest-2011

Or you can get this set from TD’s site.

Here’s the reported US dates so far:

THE ELECTRIC MANDARINE TOUR IN USA 2012

July 1st – New York, NY / Whitman Theatre

July 6th – Philadelphia, PA / Verizon Hall

July 7th – Washington DC / Warner Theatre

July 11th – Atlanta, GA / Fox Theatre

July 13th – Cleveland, OH / Palace Theatre

July 14th – Detroit, MI / Fillmore Theatre

July 18th – Chicago, IL / Vic Theatre

July 20th – Milwaukee, WI / Pabst Theatre

July 21st – Minneapolis, MN / Orpheum Theatre

July 25th – Madison, WI – Orpheum Theatre (State Street)

John Diliberto ((( echoes ))) 

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Moby @ Moogfest 2011

June 23, 2011

Moby has just been added to the already impressive line-up of Moogfest 2011.  He’ll be playing with a full band.  His shows in 2009 were stunning.  (See review)  In addition, they’ve added the Lunz Project, which is the ambient chamber music collaboration between Tim Story and Hans-Joachim Roedelius who is already on the bill with a solo act.  It will be great to have this project exposed to a wider and different audience.  With Moby (full band),  STS9, Tangerine Dream, M83, and Lunzproject Feat. Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story, MoogFest 2011 is looking to have a great showing of Echoes-centric artists.

See Press Release below.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

MOOGFEST ADDS MOBY (FULL BAND), AMON TOBIN: ISAM LIVE, DAN DEACON, KODE9, THE ANTLERS, ATLAS SOUND, GLASSER, BEAK>, STICKMEN (TONY LEVIN & PAT MASTELOTTO), LUNZPROJECT FEAT. HANS JOACHIM-ROEDELIUS AND TIM STORY, AND WHAM CITY COMEDY TOUR TO 2011 LINEUP!

 

OCTOBER 28-30 IN ASHEVILLE, NC

 

TICKETS ON SALE NOW AT WWW.MOOGFEST.COM

 

June 23, 2011, Asheville, NC – Moogfest 2011, AC Entertainment’s annual festival of electronic and visionary music, celebrating the innovative spirit of Bob Moog, is expanding on the tremendous success of last year’s reinvented Moogfest concept. Moby, performing with a full band, Amon Tobin: ISAM Live, Dan Deacon, Kode9, The Antlers, Atlas Sound, Glasser, Beak> (Portishead’s Geoff Barrow), Stickmen (Tony Levin & Pat Mastelotto), Lunzproject (Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story), and Wham City Comedy Tour will now join the already exceptional 2011 lineup of electronic music pioneers, contemporary groundbreaking artists, and up & comers further pushing musical boundaries.

 

As previously announced, ‘70s innovators Tangerine Dream, Suicide, and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, will join the Flaming Lips, Passion Pit, STS9, Ghostland Observatory, Crystal Castles, Battles, Tim Hecker, Toro Y Moi, Matthew Dear, Holy F**k, M83, Austra, Twin Shadow, and many more, at this year’s festival. And there’s much more in the works – more concerts, as well as information regarding workshops, talks, interactive experiences, art exhibitions and installations will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

Moogfest 2011 takes place October 28-30 in beautiful Asheville, NC, headquarters of Moog Music, and the adopted home of Bob Moog.

 

Weekend passes for Moogfest 2011 are on sale now exclusively at www.moogfest.com. Visit www.moogfest.com for more information.

 

Moogfest 2011 Confirmed Artists:

Flaming Lips

Moby (full band) **

Passion Pit

STS9

Tangerine Dream

Crystal Castles

Umphrey’s McGee

Chromeo

Amon Tobin: ISAM Live **

Ghostland Observatory

Suicide Performing Their Legendary First Album “Suicide”

M83

Battles

Anika

Atlas Sound **

Little Dragon

The Antlers

Holy F**k

The Naked & Famous

Dan Deacon **

Mayer Hawthorne & The County

Tim Hecker

Twin Shadow

Adrian Belew Power Trio

Beak> **

Matthew Dear (band)

Toro Y Moi

Kode9 **

Glasser **

Gold Panda

Brandt, Bauer, Frick

Lunzproject Feat. Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story **

Stickmen (Tony Levin & Pat Mastelotto) **

Austra

Cant

Wham City Comedy Tour **

Causing A Tiger

Hans-Joachim Roedelius

Oneohtrix Point Never

Ford & Lopatin

 

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MOOGFEST ADDS MOBY (FULL BAND), AMON TOBIN: ISAM LIVE, DAN DEACON, KODE9, THE ANTLERS, ATLAS SOUND, GLASSER, BEAK>, STICKMEN (TONY LEVIN & PAT MASTELOTTO), LUNZPROJECT FEAT. HANS JOACHIM-ROEDELIUS AND TIM STORY, AND WHAM CITY COMEDY TOUR TO 2011 LINEUP!

 

OCTOBER 28-30 IN ASHEVILLE, NC

 

TICKETS ON SALE NOW AT WWW.MOOGFEST.COM

 

June 23, 2011, Asheville, NC – Moogfest 2011, AC Entertainment’s annual festival of electronic and visionary music, celebrating the innovative spirit of Bob Moog, is expanding on the tremendous success of last year’s reinvented Moogfest concept. Moby, performing with a full band, Amon Tobin: ISAM Live, Dan Deacon, Kode9, The Antlers, Atlas Sound, Glasser, Beak> (Portishead’s Geoff Barrow), Stickmen (Tony Levin & Pat Mastelotto), Lunzproject (Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story), and Wham City Comedy Tour will now join the already exceptional 2011 lineup of electronic music pioneers, contemporary groundbreaking artists, and up & comers further pushing musical boundaries.

 

As previously announced, ‘70s innovators Tangerine Dream, Suicide, and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, will join the Flaming Lips, Passion Pit, STS9, Ghostland Observatory, Crystal Castles, Battles, Tim Hecker, Toro Y Moi, Matthew Dear, Holy F**k, M83, Austra, Twin Shadow, and many more, at this year’s festival. And there’s much more in the works – more concerts, as well as information regarding workshops, talks, interactive experiences, art exhibitions and installations will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

Moogfest 2011 takes place October 28-30 in beautiful Asheville, NC, headquarters of Moog Music, and the adopted home of Bob Moog.

 

Weekend passes for Moogfest 2011 are on sale now exclusively at www.moogfest.com. Visit www.moogfest.com for more information.

 

Moogfest 2011 Confirmed Artists:

Flaming Lips

Moby (full band) **

Passion Pit

STS9

Tangerine Dream

Crystal Castles

Umphrey’s McGee

Chromeo

Amon Tobin: ISAM Live **

Ghostland Observatory

Suicide Performing Their Legendary First Album “Suicide”

M83

Battles

Anika

Atlas Sound **

Little Dragon

The Antlers

Holy F**k

The Naked & Famous

Dan Deacon **

Mayer Hawthorne & The County

Tim Hecker

Twin Shadow

Adrian Belew Power Trio

Beak> **

Matthew Dear (band)

Toro Y Moi

Kode9 **

Glasser **

Gold Panda

Brandt, Bauer, Frick

Lunzproject Feat. Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story **

Stickmen (Tony Levin & Pat Mastelotto) **

Austra

Cant

Wham City Comedy Tour **

Causing A Tiger

Hans-Joachim Roedelius

Oneohtrix Point Never

Ford & Lopatin

 

** New additions

 

For more information, contact:

Jessica Linker & Jacob Daneman | Pitch Perfect PR – jessica@pitchperfectpr.com, jacob@pitchperfectpr.com, 773-271-6844

 

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Tangerine Dream Headlines Moogfest 2011.

June 1, 2011

MOOGFEST 2011, OCTOBER 28-30 IN ASHEVILLE, NC, ANNOUNCES INITIAL LINEUP!

THE FLAMING LIPS, PASSION PIT, STS9, GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY, CRYSTAL CASTLES, CHROMEO, BATTLES, UMPHREY’S MCGEE, MAYER HAWTHORNE & THE COUNTY, M83, TIM HECKER, TORO Y MOI, AUSTRA, MATTHEW DEAR, GOLD PANDA & more to play this year’s festival.

In a battle of diametrically opposed electronics, German electronic/spacerock explorers TANGERINE DREAM to present exclusive US performance while punk/electronic iconoclasts SUICIDE to perform their legendary first album in its entirety. Electronic pioneer HANS-JOACHIM ROEDELIUS from Cluster will perform solo. This was a fantastic festival last year and this one looks even more Echoes Effective! You can read reviews of that here.

MoogFest 2010 MoogFest Day 1: No Devo, MGMTdoes Karaoke

MoogFest 2010 #MoogFest Day 2: A Massive Night with Massive Attack

MoogFest 2010 MoogFest Final Day:DJ Spooky, Hot Chip

MoogFest 2010 MoogFest Final Take

WEEKEND PASSES ON SALE SATURDAY, JUNE 4, AT 12:00 NOON EASTERN AT WWW.MOOGFEST.COM Here’s the press blurb:

June 1, 2011, Asheville, NC – AC Entertainment is proud to announce the initial lineup for Moogfest 2011, the annual festival of electronic and visionary music, celebrating the innovative spirit of Bob Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer. Taking place Oct. 28 – 30, in beautiful Asheville, NC, Moogfest’s Halloween harvest of musical delights builds on the tremendous success of last year’s reinvention of the Moogfest concept in the city that Bob Moog called home. This year’s Moogfest lineup highlights a remarkable synergy of classic electronic music pioneers, contemporary groundbreaking artists, and young upstarts who are further pushing musical boundaries. ‘70s innovators, including Tangerine Dream, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Suicide, will present rare US performances as they join a lineup that includes the Flaming Lips, Passion Pit, STS9, Ghostland Observatory, Crystal Castles, Chromeo, Battles, Umphrey’s McGee, Mayer Hawthorne & The County, M83, Holy F**k, Matthew Dear, Twin Shadow, Toro y Moi, The Naked And Famous, Tim Hecker, Anika, Austra, Causing A Tiger, and Gold Panda, with many others still to be announced. The final Moogfest 2011 lineup will ultimately feature performances by over 60 internationally acclaimed artists in numerous venues throughout downtown, including the Asheville Civic Center Arena, the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, and world-renown Orange Peel Social & Pleasure Club. The festival will also host workshops, talks, interactive experiences and art exhibitions and installations. “Last year’s reinvented Moogfest – the first to take place in Asheville – was an amazing experience – and the response from artists and fans alike was extraordinary,” says AC Entertainment founder, Ashley Capps. “We’re very excited and inspired to build upon that success for the 2011 festival.” Weekend passes for Moogfest 2011 will go on sale on Saturday, June 4, at 12 Noon Eastern exclusively at http://www.moogfest.com

www.moogfest.com, for more information.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Ten Best New Music Concerts of 2010.

December 7, 2010

No one can possibly see every concert of the year so this is really the 10 best concerts that I saw in 2010.  And I saw a lot of shows and some astounding performances.  Here’s the list.

John Diliberto’s Ten Best Concerts of 2010

Jonsi at Electric Factory, Philadelphia
Jonsi gave a performance that was transcendent, visually and musically.  The Sigur Ros singer/guitarist created a theatrical work that was  meticulously choreographed,  yet ragingly intense.

Nels Cline Singers at Johnny Brenda’s,  Philadelphia
Nels Cline, erstwhile guitarist for Wilco, turned in a tour de force performance with his trio, The Nels Cline Singers.  The music ranged through moments of tranquility, hard-edged groove and raga-like melodicism, all of which emerged from a sea of distortion.  (see complete review).

Jeff Beck at The Borgata, Atlantic City
The 60s guitar icon gave a retrospective walk through his career and played most of his 2010 album, Emotion & Commotion.  He laid all guitar gods to waste with a riveting 90 minute performance that revealed why he’s the Wizard of the Whammy Bar. (See complete review).

Arcade Fire at Mann Music Center, Philadelphia
With their expanded ensemble,  Arcade Fire launched a big arena-style assault full of energy and passion, grooves that would not stop and melodies that stayed in your head long after they echoed off the Mann Music Center hillside.

Massive Attack at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
Even though they played an arena, Massive Attack maintained fidelity to their sub-down tempo moods.  But make no mistake, this music thundered with a pair of drummers , booming bass and Angelo Bruschini‘s burning solos that cut  serrated edges on Massive Attack’s electronic orchestrations.  Martina Topley-Bird lit up the stage every time she sang. (See complete review)

Martina Topley-Bird w/Massive Attack

The Pineapple Thief at Nearfest, Bethlehem, PA
The Pineapple Thief stole the day for me with the most atypical set of  NEARfest 2010. No extended guitar solos, keyboard orchestrations or complex rhythm designs for this quartet.  Instead they concentrated on songs and arrangements, building tension and release through repetition and nuanced, albeit highly distorted sound.  (See complete review).

The Octopus Project at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
The Octopus Project manage to be effervescent even when sending out industrial chaos with metal beats and buzzsaw synthesizers.  One of the most exuberant performances at Moogfest (see complete review).

Ludovico Einaudi at Angel Orensantz Center, New York City
Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi played a purely solo set lasting over two hours of liquidly flowing solo piano, weaving and reinterpreting his compositions on the fly in the surreal space of the Angel Orensantz Center.  You can hear him do it again on Echoes Sonic Seasonings.

Michael Rother @ International House

Michael Rother & Hallogallo 2010 at International House,  Philadelphia
The German guitarist brought his trio in to reinvent the music of Neu, Harmonia and his own solo works. Elements of surf guitar, Eastern tonalities and acid sustain emerged in Rother’s playing.  You haven’t heard this much fuzzed, phased and filter-swept guitar in years as Rother deployed lines that were minimalist in scope, but epic in resonance.  (Read a complete  review)

10 Hotchip at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
Hot Chip turned in one of the most powerful sets of MoogFest.   Their sound updates 1980s Techno-pop with infectious songs and  long instrumental vamps like “Over and Over.”  It has a chorus that shouts “Laid back! We’ll give you laid back,” which they certainly didn’t.  Their albums will not prepare you for how hard they rock in concert.  (Read full review)

Getting Highly Honorable Mention:
Portico Quartet @ World Cafe Live,  Philadelphia (Read full concert review)
The Album Leaf @ First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia
The  Black Angels @ TLA, Philadelphia (read full review)

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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Nels Cline, erstwhile guitarist for Wilco, turned in a tour de force performance with his trio, The Nels Cline Singers that started with a 35 minute excursion that moved through moments of tranquility, hard-edged groove and raga-like melodicism, all of which emerged from a sea of distortion.  It was like speeding down the highway at night, one station dissolving into static as another moved into range.

MoogFest Final Take

November 3, 2010

Three Days of Plugged in Sound (except Mountain Man): An Echoes Perspective

MoogFest 2010 wasn’t the first MoogFest, but it was the first of a new era of MoogFests that follows the programming pattern of alternative rock music festivals like Coachella, Bonaroo and the Pitchfork Music Festival.  There were over 60 acts in 3 days spread out over  3 main venues and two smaller rooms.  Because it’s indoors and up to a 15 minute walk between the two main venues, the Asheville Civic Center and The Orange Peel, it doesn’t quite have the communal feel of those events,but Halloween weekend definitely gave MoogFest a Tim Burton vibe you wouldn’t find at other events.  Audiences were in full costume all three nights and filled the streets of Asheville, a town that is hip and quaint, even under normal circumstances.

What MoogFest did have is a lot of leading edge dance and electronic music from the last 20 years or so.  Musically there were no revelations, and except for The Octopus Project, there were no artists really breaking out or charting new terrain.

There’s was a certain among of kvetching by people like me that MoogFest had a narrow definition of electronic music which left out a lot of sounds like progressive rock, space, ambient and avant-garde music, genres that share a deep history with electronics in general and Moog synthesizers in particular.  Another complaint was that there didn’t seem to be many people who had much to do with the Moog synthesizer.  Both remained true, but the spirit of Robert Moog filled the music and he got many shout-outs from the stage.  The festival did take chances on experimental projects like Saturn Never Sleeps and Emeralds.    I guess if you want that kind of festival, like Nearfest let’s say, you’ll have to start your own.  But this was a festival looking for 8,000 attendees, not the 1000 that will top out Nearfest.  However, Ashley Capps, the festival promoter, did attempt to book a few of them this year and is looking towards a couple of iconic German electronic bands for next year.  And it appears that there will be a next year. Despite being spread over 5 venues, virtually every event I attended was full or near full.

Hear a pre-Festival interview with MoogFest producer Ashley Capps:

Here’s a shot at some final MoogFest observations

The highlights of the Festival:
Massive Attack
The Octopus Project
Hot Chip
Mutemath
Saturn Never Sleeps (w/King Britt)
Jon Hopkins

Disappointments
Cancellation of Devo
Thievery Corporation ( I may be the only one who thought this, however.)

Best Restaurants
Flash: Posana Café
Funky: Jack of the Wood
Both had great food and service and vibe at opposite ends of the price scale

*The illuminated figures called Freddies, scattered across Asheville and this page, were freaky cool.

*Asheville has the nicest parking lot attendants I’ve ever encountered.
*Asheville has the nicest security personnel I’ve ever encountered.

*Festival attendees and/or Ashevillians smoke too much and allow too much smoking.  I’m not sure if it was because of festival attendees or Asheville itself, but I’ve never seen so many people lighting up on the streets.  It’s against the law to smoke inside public spaces, but there’s no such restriction on outdoor smoking. This wasn’t limited to the usual smoking gauntlet around club and restaurant doors.  The air was filled with a tobacco smoke haze.   I can’t remember a place, even in Europe, where I felt like I had to go inside to escape the stench.

*The audience was mostly in the 18-35 year old bracket.                                                                                                                             *There was about 55/45% male/female split.
*
It was one of the whitest audiences you’ll see outside a Taylor Swift show which was surprising given acts like Big Boi and DJ Spooky.
*There is electronic music without a dance beat.  Bring it next year please.

A nice chunk of the proceeds goes to the Bob Moog Foundation to preserve the legacy of this influential and pioneering inventor and enabler of all things electronic.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

#MoogFest Day 2: A Massive Night with Massive Attack

October 31, 2010

An Echoes Take on MoogFest 2010 Day 2:  Massive Attack assaults, Thievery Corporation raps, Jon Hopkins up-dates Techno.

It was Halloween Eve at MoogFest and there were many treats, no tricks, and some disappointments.   Unfortunately, an interview commitment prevented me from seeing several acts including Jonsi, Caribou and Mountain Man. But I have reports on a few of them from Echoes‘ Kimberly Haas.

Rob Garza & Eric Hilton @ MoogFest

My night started with Thievery Corporation who brought a large live band with horns and multiple singers.  Their first three songs played off the down-tempo mood that dominates their recent anthology, It Takes a Thief, with an appropriately intoxicating take on their dope anthem, “Lebanese Blonde” sung by Sista Pat followed by a dreamy “Shadows of Ourselves,” sung in sultry French Chanteuse mode by LouLou.  From there, they took a turn into the rap and toaster configurations that have dominated much of their music over the years.  Energy levels were much more amped up than on CD and once they got going there was no return to the more downtempo dreamy moods.  Instead, it was a rap rave-up powered by thundering drums and bassist Ashish Vyas’ deep bottom growl that stalked the music the way he stalked the stage.  The rapping and toasting quickly grew tedious for me, especially as it was lost in the cavernous reverb of the Asheville Civic Center which was packed to the back entrance with fans who found it the perfect soundtrack for their Halloween Eve.

3D of Massive Attack @ MoogFest

Massive Attack redeemed the night with one of the best sets of the Festival.  It was similar to their shows a few years ago with the addition of tracks from their latest album,  Heligoland. While Thievery opted to play to the revved up expectations of an arena festival crowd, Massive Attack maintained fidelity to their sub-down tempo moods.  But make no mistake, this music thundered with a pair of drummers (electronic and acoustic), booming bass and easily the best guitar work of the festival as Angelo Bruschini laid down burning solos on several tunes and added a serrated edge to the electronic orchestrations.  Vocals rotated among several singers including Robert “3D” Del Naja and his mumbled monochrome voice of doom, Grant “Daddy G” Marshall’s soulful croon and Horace Andy’s equally soulful, but nasally  Jamaican cry.  But it was Martina Topley-Bird who lit up the stage every time she

Martina Topley-Bird @ MoogFest

came out.  Made up looking like a Nightmare Before Christmas Fairy corpse she brought her sultry voice to bear over the dark beats of “Babel,” “Splitting the Atom” and “Teardrop,” a song originally sung by Elizabeth Fraser.  Topley-Bird doesn’t have her kind of pipes, but she brought the song into her own, intimate range.

Massive Attack used the same LED backing of parallel bars that spit out words, slogans, facts and figures.  It’s a dazzling display that accentuates their powerful, dramatic music. Massive Attack can be overwhelming in their moodiness.   One festival goer commented, “That would have been great if I had some heroin.”

Jon Hopkins @ MoogFest

From the arena sized assault of Massive Attack, I ventured to the cozier Moogaplex, essentially a large, vendor-style conference room where Jon Hopkins was already in motion with his update of pure techno music.   There were no synthesizers in sight.  Instead, Hopkins played tracks off his computer and manipulated the sound live.  It was a pounding pure metal beat set as Hopkins did a finger dance on his two KAOS pads, stabbing and dragging his fingers across the touch screens to alter the sound with slurs, stutters and altered attacks.  Up against Four Tet, the Disco Biscuits and Massive Attack, it was a small, but ecstatic audience who raved to every breakbeat and tempo shift with hand-waving enthusiasm.  If you were wondering where all the aggressive sounds on Brian Eno’s new album, Small Craft on a Milk Sea were from, you could hear it here.

Angelos Bruschini of Massive Attack @ MoogFest

On our way home, we decided to catch the end of Four Tet’s set.  The Orange Peel was jammed to capacity and they were turning people away.  Inside, Four Tet, aka Kieran Hebden, stood behind a couple of computers, spinning sounds from his catalog. I’m sure the music was raging earlier, but we heard him go out on a pretty, serene note.

Echoes’ Kimberly Haas was more fortunate than I and caught several acts I missed.  She thought the dream pop band, School of Seven Bells, played an energetic and engaging set although they seemed to use an inordinate amount of backing tracks.  That might have been because one of the two identical twins, Claudia Deheza (her sister is Alejandra) left the band a couple of weeks ago.

Kimberly was blown away by Jonsi who played a totally immersive concert based on his Go album and the tour he’s been on for most of this year with expansive dynamics and more energy than the album.  Jonsi was completely consumed in his performance, tapping the deep emotions of his music. He brings a detailed sound to the stage and it was good to see him in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium rather than the cavernous Civic Center arena.

Kevin Kissinger & Theremin @ MoogFest

Kimberly also caught the most anachronistic act of MoogFest, the Vermont based female trio, Mountain Man.  They played a charming set, with sweet three-part harmony with just one acoustic guitar passed between the members.  They gave a gorgeous performance of “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies” providing an old time contrast with the ultra-modern high tech festival.

John Diliberto & Theremin @MoogFest

During the day, I checked out events at the Moogaplex, including a Theremin performance and demo from Kevin Kissinger.  I also gave a shot at this instrument which is harder to play than you might think.  Michelle Moog-Koussa centered a panel talking about the Bob Moog Foundation, and revealed some of the early Moog recordings made before the instrument was even an instrument.  The Foundation is benefiting immensely from the festival, getting a cut of the action on tickets and Moog Filtered Ale, created for the event by local microbrewery Asheville Brewing Company, a lot of which was being imbibed.

I’m hoping for surprises in the final day, which, except for DJ Spooky, isn’t exciting me.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

MoogFest Day 1: No Devo, MGMTdoes Karaoke

October 30, 2010

Devo Cancels.  MGMT does Karaoke. King Britt travels the Spaceways. Mutemath does Back-Flips

The first day of MoogFest consisted of tough choices made easy by disappointment.   The disappointment was the late-news that Devo would not be performing. They canceled their entire US tour after guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh sliced his thumb to the bone.  But disappointment yielded opportunity.

Octopus Project @ MoogFest

I missed Dan Deacon so I could go to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and catch all of The Octopus Project, a band out of Austin.  They set the bar precipitously high with an energized, mostly instrumental set that was a bit like Devo meets Mono, sans vocals.  They rocked through songs with complicated,  head-snapping time signatures, minimalist patterns and that soft-loud guitar attack favored by Mono.  But they do it with an ear toward pop infectiousness.   All the musicians switch off on keyboards, guitars, bass and drums, although the focus seems to be Yvonne Lambert, stage center at her keyboard station.   It was Halloween weekend but Lambert didn’t have to wear a costume.  She was dressed in her usual stage attire of an exaggerated flip hairdo and 50s-era party dress.  She played the minimalist keyboard riffs and on a couple of songs caressed the air around  a Moog Theremin.  Unlike most contemporary bands who use it for whooping space effects, Lambert did her best Clara Rockmore impression.  While her band mates bobbed across the stage, she stood stock still, making tiny hand movements to play simple but precise melodies.  But she whooped it up a few times as well, to good effect. The Octopus Project manage to be effervescent even when sending out industrial chaos with metal beats and buzzsaw synthesizers.

At the end of their energized set, TOP was joined by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerry Casale, the two frontmen from Devo.  On short notice, TOP inventively backed them on “The Girl You Want” and “Beautiful World.”

Next door at the Ashville Civic Center, I caught a bit of Big Boi’s groin pummeling live set with multiple rappers, horn and rhythm section and lots of dancers.  The full house was bouncing to their precisely rendered rap although it carried a lot of dark undertones.   I thought the black power salute was an interesting touch to deliver to an all-white audience.

I stepped out of that into the more peaceful redoubt of Bonobo.  He  did a DJ set in place of Devo and he was spinning some entrancing down-tempo moods when I stopped in, but with Devo out of the picture, I was more in the mood for live music, so  I opted for the 15 minute hike down to the Orange Peel for King Britt.  The experimental hip-hop artist has been working a kind of electronic homage to the spirit of Sun Ra for the last year called Saturn Never Sleeps.  He’s played this in Philadelphia with a large band and extensive multimedia productions but he brought a stripped down version to MoogFest.  It was just Britt on various electronic manipulators and Rucyl, an original member of The Goats, singing, playing keyboards and processing her sound.  Based on tracks that Britt seemed to have in his laptop, they moved through slow dirge beds of turgid, glitched scrawls with Rucyl singing mostly wordless vocals, tossing her voice into reverb and echoes and occasionally breaking into a chanted chorus singing lines like, “Give me love,” making her sound like Donna Summer in a fever trance.

Twenty minutes in, Rucyl informed us it was all improvised on the spot.  But that was no news as the music marched engagingly over shifting moods and textures with Britt mashing up tracks in real time. Rucyl is a compelling singer with a smokey, sensual voice, but her vocalise often meandered with a limited palette of wordless vernacular.  Yet, they entered some fascinating spaces including one haunting piece with a train whistle, alien crickets and the growling approach of a dark dawn.  Much of the music attained a certain zombie-lounge groove, perfect for Halloween.

After their set, we rushed back to the Civic Center to catch about half of MGMT.  It was evident immediately that they hadn’t adjusted to the cavernous space.  Their sound bounded off the walls with muddy bass, indecipherable vocals and highs that scalped your head off.   The highlight of the second half was the 12 minute “Siberian Breaks,” the magnum opus from their Congratulations CD.  The song alternates between dreamy exposition and slamming grooves and is their most ambitious composition with a heavy dose of 1960s Brit pop including The Hollies vocal harmonies, The Small Faces pastoral idylls and a nice touch of Pink Floyd space guitar.  They followed it up with one of their two big hits,  “Kids.”

MGMT reportedly had lofty goals from their second album, refusing to release singles from it and claiming there weren’t any  radio friendly hits, as if that was something to be disdained.  So were they being ironic in playing “Kids” as a complete Karaoke song with all of the musicians abandoning their instruments except for a couple who banged on percussion while the synth track played on.  Even the vocals sounded artificially reinforced.  The audience didn’t care.  Decked out in their Halloween makeup and costumes, they bounced up and down, spinning and waving the supposedly-banned glow sticks in the most carefree rave fashion while the infectious rhythms pounded out from the speakers.   MGMT took the song home, however, with a pure psychedelic rave-up of twisting guitar.  There was a mass exodus after that, the crowd apparently having gotten their two hits, with “Time to Pretend” played earlier.

We skipped Van Dyke Parks.  Was that wrong?

Instead we took a break and then settled back in at the Orange Peel for Mutemath.  This New Orleans quartet has been around since 2003 and should be garnering more attention, if for nothing else, their electric live set.  Frontman Paul Meany looks a bit like Perry Farrell and has the same kind of energy, extolling his earnest songs with a showman’s sensibility and a jazz pianist’s chops.  He played mostly Fender Rhodes but also stepped out on a battered Keytar, but with none of the showboating usually associated with fuzak bands.  Guitarist Greg Hill was a wonder on guitar, creating the textures behind Meany, ripping out bluesy space slides,  power chord leaps and Byrds-like jangle.  Darren King is a power house drummer, slamming his undersized kit while wearing headphones with a chin-strap to keep them on his spinning head.  With his below-the-shoulders-hair, beard and 70s sunglasses, bassist  Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas looked like he stepped off the cover of The Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore.   And he laid down an intricate and booming foundation just as solid as that band.  Mutemath careened through their set culminating in Meany doing handstands and backflips on his Rhodes.

Day one is over.  On to day two.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Devo Cancels.  MGMT does Karaoke, King Britt travels the Spaceways, Mutemath does Back-Flips
The first day of MoogFest consisted of tough choices made easy by disappointment.   The disappointment was the late-news that Devo would not be performing. They cancelled their entire US tour after guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh sliced his thumb to the bone. http://www.billboard.com/news/devo-postpones-2010-tour-dates-due-to-injury-1004124223.story#/news/devo-postpones-2010-tour-dates-due-to-injury-1004124223.story
But disappointment yielded opportunity.  I missed Dan Deacon so I could catch all of The Octopus Project, a band out of Austin.  They set the bar precipitously high with an energized, mostly instrumental set that was a bit like Devo meets Mono, sans vocals.  They rocked through songs with complicated, but head-snapping time signatures, minimalist patterns and that soft-loud guitar attack favored by mono.  But they do it with an ear toward pop infectiousness.   All the musicians switch off on keyboards, guitars, bass and drums, although the center seems to be Yvonne Lambert at her keyboard station, a stage center.   Although she wore a mask atop her head as a Halloween concession, Lambert was dressed in her usual attire of an exaggerated flip hairdo and 50s-era party dress.  She played the minimalist keyboard riffs and on a couple of songs, played a Moog Theremin.  Unlike most contemporary bands who use it for whooping space effects, Lambert did her best Clara Rockmore impression.  While her band mates bobbed across the stage, she stood stock still, making tiny hand movements to play simple but precise melodies.  But she whooped it up a few times as well, to good effect. The Octopus Project mange to be effervescent even when sending out industrial chaos with metal beats and buzzsaw synthesizers.
At the end of their energized set, TOP was joined by Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale., the two frontmen from Devo.  On short notice TOP inventively, backed them on “The Girl You Want” and “Beautiful World.”
I caught a bit of Big Boi’s groin pummeling live set with multiple rappers, and horn and rhythm section and lots of dancers.  The full house in the Civic Center main room was bouncing to their precisely rendered rap although it carried a lot of dark undertones.   I thought the black power salute was an interesting touch to deliver to an all-white audience.
I stepped out of that into the more peaceful redoubt of Bonoboo.  He  did a DJ set in place of Devo and he was spinning some entrancing down-tempo moods when I stopped in, but with Devo out of the picture, I was more in the mood for live music, so  I opted for the 15 minute hike down to the Orange Peel for King Britt.  The experimental hip-hop artist has been working a kind of electronic homage to the spirit of Sun Ra for the last year called Saturn Never Sleeps.  He’s played this in Philadelphia with a large band and extensive multimedia productions but he brought a stripped down version to MoogFest.  It was just Britt on various electronic manipulators and Rucyl, an original member of the Goats, singing.  Improvising based on tracks that Britt seemed to have in his laptop, they moved through slow dirge beds of turgid, glitched scrawls with Rucyl singing mostly wordless vocals, tossing her voice into reverb and echoes and occasionally breaking into a chanted chorus singing lines like, “Give me love,” making her sound like Donna Summer in a fever dream.  Twenty minutes in, Rucyl informed us it was all improvised on the spot.  But that was no news as the music marched engagingly over shifting moods and textures with Britt mashing up tracks in real time. Rucyl is a compelling singer with a smokey, sensual voice, but her vocalise often meandered with a limited pallette of wordless vernacular.
Yet, they entered some fascinating spaces including one haunting piece with a train whistle, alien crickets and the growling approach of a dark dawn.  Much of the music attained a certain zombie-lounge groove, perfect for Halloween.
After their set, we rushed back to the Civic Center to catch about half of MGMT.  It was evident immediately that they hadn’t adjusted to the cavernous space.  Their sound bounded off the walls with muddy bass, indecipherable vocals and highs that scalped your head off.   The highlight of second half was the 12 minute “Siberian Breaks,” the magnum opus from their Congratulations CD.  The song alternates between dreamy exposition and slamming grooves and is their most ambitious composition with a heavy dose of 1960s Brit pop including The Hollies vocal harmonies, the Small Faces pastoral idylls and a nice touch of Pink Floyd space guitar.  They followed it up with one of their two big hits,  “Kids.”
MGMT reportedly had lofty goals from their second album, refusing to release singles from it and claiming there weren’t any  radio friendly hits, as if that was something to be disdained.  So were they being ironic in playing “Kids” as a complete Karaoke with all of the musicians abandoning their instruments except for a couple who banged on percussion.  Even the vocals sounded artificially reinforced.  The audience didn’t care.  Decked out in their Halloween makeup and costumes, they bounced up and down, spinning and waving the supposedly banned glow sticks in the most carefree rave fashion while the infectious rhythms pounded out from the speakers.   MGMT took the song home, however, with a pure psychedelic rave-up of twisting guitar.  There was a mass exodus after that, the crowd apparently having gotten their two hits, with “Time to Pretend” played earlier.
We skipped Van Dyke Parks.  Is that wrong?
Instead we took a break and then settled back in at the Orange Peel for Mutemath.  This New Orleans quartet has been around since 2003 and should be garnering more attention, if for nothing else, their electric live set.  Frontman Paul Meany looks a bit like Perry Farrell and has the same kind of energy, extolling his earnest songs with a showman’s sensibility and a jazz pianist’s chops.  He played mostly Fender Rhodes but also stepped out on a battered Keytar, but with none of the showboating usually associated with fuzak bands.  Guitarist Greg Hill was a wonder on guitar, creating the textures behind Meany, ripping out bluesy space slide guitar, power chord leaps and Byrds-like jangle.  Darren King is a power house drummer, slamming his undersized kit while wearing headphones with a chin-strap to keep them on his spinning head.  Bassist  Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas laid down an intricate and booming foundation, With his below- the-shoulders-hair, beard and glasses, he looked like he stepped off the cover of The Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore.   They careened through their set culminating in Meany doing handstands and backflips on his Rhodes.
Day one is over.  On to day two.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

MoogFest-Too Many Choices

October 29, 2010

Getting ready for MoogFest tonight and already faced by insurmountable choices with overlapping bands in venues separated by anywhere from 5 to 20 minute hauls.

Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh in Echoes Interview

The pleasant pop of Kuroma and The Octopus Project each overlap by half an hour, so I’ll start out with TOP but Kuroma will have to depend on how good or bad TOP perform.

I’d love to catch Nortec Collective but TOP ends at 7:30 and Nortec starts at 7:15 at the Orange Peel, a venue about 20 minutes alway, which would mean I’d miss Devo at 8.    I first saw Devo 33 years ago at The Hot Club in Philadelphia.  It was a memorable set and I’m looking forward on both a nostalgic and artistic level at seeing them again.

But then I have a choice between Saturn Never Sleeps, King Britt’s ambient surreal Sun Ra project and MGMT doing their big-time Indi pop, again at venues separated by about 20 minutes with overlapping time.  The only way I’ll catch that is if Devo really sucks, and I don’t have that expectation.  I think it will be a game-time call whether I want another dose of electro-Pop or if I want to have my mind blown.

I’ll probably catch Van Dyke Parks at 11 although I’ve never been a big fan of his arch take on pop.  Then it’s a tough choice between Girl Talk, Panda Bear, and Mutemath.  I’m leaning towards the power pop of Mutemath even if he does play a keytar (one of those keyboards you sling around your neck so you look like a dork).

Anything I should see that I’m overlooking?  Big BoiDan Deacon? Clare & the Reasons?

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


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