Moogfest took over the bars, venues, convention center, and even parking lots of downtown Durham, North Carolina this past weekend, bringing together music and technology nerds from all over the world. As is the case with many festivals, it’s always a conundrum to decide which presentations to attend when trying to pack so much outstanding music and programming in such a short period, all the while making sure you have the sleep and brainpower to understand the complex language and algorithms in discussion during keynote workshops and panels. Taken from a weekend of such educational and immersive experiences, below is a list of just a few of our favorite moments from Moogfest 2017.
DJ Chela and Zensofly’s North Carolina Themed Set
Local talent Zensofly collaborated with NYC mixer DJ Chela and a posse of dancers for a powerhouse set to start off Saturday’s performances on the main stage, Motorco Park. Zensofly rapped over DJ Chela’s beats with words relevant to North Carolina as she led a chant of “Bull City” amongst the animated crowd. Several other guests popped on the stage for a track about the NC-based fast food restaurant, Cook Out, as they threw the establishment’s signature trays, boxes full of burgers and sides, out into the audience. Included in the artists that Zensofly brought on stage was Durham mayoral candidate and afro futurist Pierce Freelon.
S U R V I V E’s Live Score of “Stranger Things”
The elegant venue of Fletcher Hall at the Carolina Theatre quickly filled to capacity for a live score of Netflix’s hit series “Stranger Things.” The large room, complete with two balcony seatings stacked to the ceiling, turned pitch black before Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein took stage under a red spotlight for a very sinister presentation of the duo’s composed soundtrack. A balance of eerie screeches and sound effects left the audience on their toes as if encompassed into the science-fiction and horror show.
Virtual Reality Experiences
Amongst the many workshops and learning opportunities of the weekend was a heavy emphasis on the future and technology of virtual reality and 360 video.
Camouflaged by a parade of food trucks in the center of downtown Durham was a VR truck created by artist Kyle Marler and his interdisciplinary collaborative, Flatsitter. Festival goers stepped inside the truck to immerse themselves in the world of Lily Dale, a community in upstate New York composed solely of psychics, spiritualists and other freethinkers. The experience began with each member choosing two tarot cards which would then determine the journey they would take through their visual, audio and vibration set. All attendees observed and listened to various interviews from Lily Dale residents, accompanied with vivid illustrations, burning herbs and motion. After being transported to an entirely different universe, users simply took off their sets, walked out of the truck and reentered the busy world of the festival with a changed perspective.
Down the street from the VR truck, viewers attended other sessions to learn about the capabilities of VR and 360 in regards to concert experiences. Sensorium Works, a creative studio from NYC, led a workshop on recording and editing musical performances. From setting up the equipment to viewing the finished project, users participated in a video including artists Noveller, Nick Zinner and Greg Fox who led a 25-minute jam revolving around the 360 cameras and spatial sound recording equipment.
Late Night Dance Parties at the Durham Armory
The Durham Armory, a location normally used for meetings by day as part of the Durham Convention Center Complex, transformed into a rave dance party at night. On the lineup was electronic dance icons 808 State, Simian Mobile Disco, Derrick May, Function and so many more. The venue was a spot for everyone to come after a long day of workshops to let loose until the early morning with a huge dancefloor full of energy and flashing lights.
One of the closing musical sets of the weekend was trip metal noise band Wolf Eyes, reigning from Detroit, Michigan. The trio, known for being internet and social media pranksters, took on a more serious tone as they left the crowd of Motorco Music Hall speechless, quite literally blowing everyone away with the amplified feedback and improvised noises. The intense, echoed spoken word of Nate Young layered over drone sounds and synth wind instruments by John Olson to create a mood of anger and melancholy alike. Olson incorporated elements of psycho jazz into the tracks by oftentimes playing both clarinet and saxophone simultaneously.
Moogfest 2018 is already underway for the weekend of May 17-20, returning to Durham. Tickets are available here.
Article and photos by Olivia Wilkes