Moogfest 2011, Day Two
Joseph Chapman: So, for the second time in just over a month, I saw The Flaming Lips in North Carolina. What really made this show special was the band’s cover of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Lucky Man,” an acoustic ballad that closes with a ripping Moog solo. Frontman Wayne Coyne gave a brief speech on the legacy of Bob Moog and explained that “Lucky Man” was one of the first examples of Moog synths in rock ‘n’ roll. But the homage wouldn’t be complete without some of the Lips’ own reimagination — so instead of a custom Modular Moog setup like Keith Emerson’s, multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd did the solo on the new Moog iPad app.
Allison Hussey: Two nights down, one to go. Last night was freezing, but it wasn’t raining and that was enough for me. On my schedule tonight is Special Disco Version, M83, Childish Gambino and Gold Panda. It’s a little bittersweet, but it has been an amazing weekend full of great people and great entertainment.
Amon Tobin’s Isam show looked promising, and it definitely lived up to expectations. For those unfamiliar, Tobin’s setup is a cluster of towers of white cubes, with Tobin and his equipment in a middle section. A single projector (with the aid of some major programming chops) covered the complex structure and gave it depth. When the first bass throb dropped, the projected images pulsed, and it seemed like the entire set was vibrating. The size of the cubes was a little disappointing at first – the preview trailer really does make it look bigger – and it seems like upstairs’ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium would have been a much better fit. Regardless, Tobin’s performance was an incredible audio and visual experience, unlike anything else so far at Moogfest.
Battles was another impressive act, finishing out the evening at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Guitarist Ian Williams looked as though he was being electrocuted as he stood between two synthesizers while lights flashed behind him. Accompanying the lights were two huge LED panels. Most of the band’s songs didn’t include vocals, and the few that did featured guest vocalists. None of the guests were actually onstage; rather, they appeared on the panels and were remixed along with the vocal tracks. It was sometimes difficult to figure out who/what to pay attention to: the flashing lights and powerful sounds, or the band itself that was thrashing around onstage. The band brought the night to a satisfying, solid close.
Lucian Crockett: Crystal Castles filled the afternoon slot at the only outdoor stage at Moogfest, the Animoog Playground. Producer Ethan Kath’s glitchy, lo-fi beats kept the motion in the crowd consistent, while lead singer Alice Glass’s indistinguishable, processed vocals acted more as an embellishing instrument than a medium of communication. The Toronto-based duo also brought along drummer Christopher Chartrand for their live show which helped to minimize the eventual monotony that can come along with live electronic music. The Crystal Castles show was definitely a highlight of the festival and they have secured their position as a must-see act in the hit-or-miss arena of live electronica.
Critics and fans alike have been miffed by Sound Tribe Sector 9’s live shows over the past few years, claiming that they’ve lost their sense of thematic jamming and just meander through nonsensical tangents. This was not the case last night when the band filled the midnight slot at the Asheville Civic Center Arena. Classic rarities such as “EHM” pleased the diehard fans, while the funk-laden closer “Unquestionable Supremacy” made it difficult for even the most casual of fans to keep still. Even though their jams can be quite formulaic at times (speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down), there was plenty about this show to enjoy.
The second night of Moogfest brought a lot more energy, and a lot more people, to the table. There was definitely a vibe in the air that something special was going on. Walking around downtown Asheville is always a great time, but with a music festival in town, there’s a special sense of solidarity and not to mention the people watching is just a little more interesting.
Photo credits: Joseph Chapman
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