Moogfest ’11 Memoirs pt 1: Friday
16. November 2011

Photo: Scott W Lee

When I arrived in Asheville, the city was cold, dark, rainy and like all new places, a bit daunting to get around but not all romances start with love at first sight.

I was sad to have missed Mayer Hawthorne’s fifties infused crooning session but at least I’d get to catch some Little Dragon right? Nope. They bailed. Word on the street was, one of their members got sick but most people I talked with figured they just didn’t want to use their expensive synths in the rain. Shame, either way.

“You guys know how to get to the Orange Peel?” I asked a few kids at a stoplight.

“Ya! That’s where we’re headed!” One of them replied.

We walked and talked our way to the venue which was where Atlas Sound was playing. The inside of the Orange Peel was magical. It had giant spheres with dancing lights projected on them, a bar to my left, a packed crowd in front of me and orange text wrapping around the walls.

Photo: Adam Kissick for NPR

After I came down from my sensory high, I actually noticed the music. Atlas Sound plays a pretty boring set.

Next up was Tangerine Dream across town at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. I’m no die-hard fan of theirs but I wanted to stop by their show out of respect. It took a lot of walking through icy wind and rain but I arrived at the auditorium in time to see a portion of their set.

What I saw was memorable. They were very serious about what they were doing. There was lots of long hair, some intense synth action and a woman banging on a set of drums with viking-like passion.

Photo: Joseph F. Carney III – EarthMusic Photography

It was a little much. I stepped out of the theater and found my way to the arena next door where Holy Fuck were setting up. I snagged a decent spot in the crowd and started zoning out to their psychedelic analog jams. After a bit of this I started feeling drawn to see Chromeo, who were playing over at the Animoog Playground.

It was a couple blocks away and I had seen them earlier that week but it’s Chromeo! You’re not gonna NOT go see Chromeo. I’d see them every day if I could.

The streets were alive with people running around in costumes. Outside was uncomfortably cold and rainy. My jacket was getting wet and my shoulders were set in a permanent flinch.

I found my way over to the where Chromeo were set up. People were rushing through the entry scanners trying to get a decent spot for the show. The flashing lights from stage revealed how much rain was falling.

Photo: Reggie Tidwell

“Hello Mooogfest!” said Dave1. The crowd screamed. “Or Mohg-fest! Sorry sorry! I’ve been saying ‘Mooog’ my whole life!”

Each member of the duo had their own style of warm clothing; Dave’s a little bit more business, P’s a bit more casual.

They made a few cracks about the weather, “It’s colder here than in Canada, where we’re from!” and then proceed to play a wonderfully danceable set.

I had to bail a little before the end of their show find some place warm. Moby was up next at the ACC arena and I was interested to see how that would go over.

When I got there, I expected to see a bald man rocking some cdjs but instead, I saw a bald man on stage with lots of other people playing instruments. Guitars? Drums? Backup vocalists?? This is the stuff of old people!

It didn’t look good when I first arrived but I was too tired to go anywhere else. I found a seat in the rafters and relaxed.

I’m actually glad I stuck around because Moby’s set turned out to be one of the most memorable showcases of that night.

I was reminded of how influential and important Moby’s Play album was for my early years of music discovery. Songs like, “Body Rock,” “South Side,” “Porcelain,” and other anthems of my youth were brought to life on stage.

At the end of each song, he’d say “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” with some sort of thick accent, which was confusing to me. He’s from Connecticut, how’s he have a German sounding inflection?

He closed out the set with a huge version of “Honey” followed by a song which he told the crowd he hadn’t played live in over 16 years.

It was loud, repetitive and fast. At the climax of the song, he stood on his equipment, took his shirt off and slowly raised his arms to the sky. Everyone was screaming. It was a little cultish and bizarre but a lot of fun to watch.

Photo: Adam Kissick for NPR

Flying Lotus, who was up next, was the first show at Moogfest to reach 1-in-1-out capacity. After eagerly waiting in line, I entered the Thomas Wolfe theater and was ushered upstairs. Loud experimental bass music filled my ears. He was a lot of fun to watch. He’s one of the more smiley dj’s I’ve ever seen; interacting with the audience and really getting into the music. For his encore, he opened with Crizzly’s edit of “Hard in da Paint” and the whole place went off.

Photo: Joseph F. Carney III - EarthMusic Photography

That night, I drove around the city for a bit until I found an out of the way location to park and went to sleep.

Additional Moogfest Coverage: Friday // Saturday // Sunday

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