In spite of my severe aversion to music festival crowds, and an anemic music budget that has seen music purchases this year tumble by two thirds from the previous year, I find myself against all odds having purchased a pair of tickets to this year’s Moogfest on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The first year that Moogfest was held in Asheville, DEVO were slated to appear and though I never saw them ever [pathetic, I know] I really didn’t want to buy a ticket to just see that band. As it turned out, Bob Mothersbaugh cut his hand a day before the event so the group could not play, but only appeared to collect their Moog Innovator award. Last year’s recipient of the Moog Innovator award was Brian Eno. I could not miss his appearance, which was a lecture since he’d given up music performance in the late 7os. In order to assure ticket availability, I got roped into buying two Moogfest weekend passes [not cheap] for first availability for tickets to the Eno lecture.
As it turned out, my wife had a scheduling conflict and wasn’t able to go [though she had a memorable meeting with the man himself!] so my friend Charles flew down from British Colombia specifically for the event. Wouldn’t you? Alas my Eno paranoia was so heightened, so when tickets were available later for the general public, we were still able to get some, allowing me to unload the passes. Much ado, but it was amazing to see Eno lecturing [complete with his installation ’77 Million Paintings’] without flying halfway around the world.
This year it’s strange, but I have bought two passes for Saturday’s lineup. There are four bands performing and two of them, I have already seen on tour this year! And yet I’m still going to Moogfest 2012! Who motivated me to go?
I’ve seen Magnetic Fields twice before. The first time was in Raleigh at the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall in 2008. It was as beautiful an atmosphere as one could ever hope for. The second time was just a few months ago at The Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. There could not have been a more dramatic difference in vibe between the two venues. The former was a perfect performing arts space, the latter was a dingy rock club. Adding insult to injury, by the time the headliners played, I was asleep on my feet since my day began 19 hours and 250 miles earlier. This time, they are playing Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. No comparison to the Meymandi, but whole realms finer that The Cat’s Cradle.
I’d seen Dolby and band at The Handlebar in Greenville, SC earlier in March of this year. It was a real treat to see Dolby after all of these years. This year he is receiving the Moog Innovator award, and while Dolby’s never been a Moog man, per se, he has done a lot more for music and technology than just make catchy ditties. His position as Music Director for TED as well as his development of polyphonic ringtones via his company Beatnik, shows there’s severe geek credibility under the video pose. Dolby will be performing with his three-piece band he toured with earlier this year, according to his website. Hopefully, his 75 minute show will still include highlights from his great new album, “A Map Of The Floating City.”
Cold Cave are a unique band. After hearing their new album streaming last year at The Quietus, I only needed to hear the first song, “The Great Pan Is Dead” to rush out and immediately purchase their CD at full retail. Reader hint: this virtually never happens. While that song is immensely thrilling music of a rare kind, that reminds me of Glenn Branca’s work from over thirty years ago given a modern twist, the rest of the album was more pedestrian. Pedestrian in that it sounded like the album that New Order always threatened to make following “Power Corruption + Lies” but never managed to achieve. When the mediocre portion of your album smokes New Order at their peak, that’s some consolation. When the album’s best song actually sounds like Post-Punk boundary-jumping of the kind I haven’t heard in 30 years, that’s astounding. As far as I’m concerned, this track is Associates quality.
Harold Budd and Keith Lowe
I first heard Harold Budd while still in high school. My friend Charles had purchased Harold Budd and Brian Eno’s “Ambient II: The Plateaux of Mirror” and he came right over to we could hear it. Budd’s piano playing marked him as the modern Erik Satie and a purveyor of crystalline beauty at the keyboard. Over the last three decades, he’s collaborated with a long list of my favorite musicians [Eno, John Foxx, Cocteau Twins, Bill Nelson] in addition to helming solo albums of stunning beauty like “The White Arcades.” In 2006, I had read that Budd had decided to retire from music and he even held a retirement concert, so the news of this performance was more than a little earth-shaking! His was the name on the roster that made attendance this year a must. Not only that, but my wife is accompanying me to Moogfest on the 27th as well! This is an almost unprecedented move on her part, but when will we ever get the opportunity to hear Budd play with the likes of bassist Keith Lowe [David Sylvian tour] ever again? Mr. Budd is 76 years old, and yet we’ll be there in the Diana Wortham Theatre at Midnight on the 27th, hardly believing our good fortune.