Moogfest 2018 is history – and here are the highlights

Also Moogfest 2019 announced : scheduled for April 25th to April 28th, 2019 and update on ticket prices

Moogfest 2018 is now in the history books.  It will immediately be remembered as the year the rain took over.  A tropical disturbance formed in South Florida that was forecast to affect the Carolina’s in a big way and it wasn’t lost on downtown Durham. Waning thunderstorms aside, the rain was plentiful albeit intermittent throughout. Friday night felt the most affected to the point my opportunity to bounce to as many venues in one night was throttled.

First off, if you want to know what its all about, instead of explaining what Moogfest is, i suggest the The Five to look forward to at Moogfest 2018 to catch up.  If that’s not enough there’s a couple of articles leading up to it.

Moogfest 2018 Lineup has been released. Check out the eclectic schedule and more.

Moogfest 2018 – guitarist Wes Borland heads a list of five conceptual and contrasting Durational Sound Installations

Moogfest 2018 adds Michael Stipe to conversations plus Hip-Hop Legends Pete Rock and Ali Shaheed Muhammad join Moses Sumney in Moogfest’s Final 2018 Lineup

Next this won’t be a review of the macro concept, collection of ideas, theories, blueprints and theories and the results of them all, nor the microcosmic details of what made Moogfest work and what didn’t and how one affected the other.  I went because the line up looked impressive at least at the supportive or feature act level and yes i would count Chelsea Manning’s discussion as part of the line up too. Still I wanted to merge as many workshops, installments, discussions and movies as possible knowing my limitations -access, distance and time. I could argue those with an engineer pass would probably have an impossible time juggling a 9am to 2am schedule too. Speaking of engineer passes and day workshops, now is a good time to share some pictures from the day workshops mostly exclusive to engineer pass holders.


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That said there’s good articles discussing Moogfest at that level though should you wish to partake.

Besides Moogfest is ubiquitous for better or worse.  At one moment, a workshop is happening on one side of the festival and a 4 hour durational is happening at another.  Performances are staggered at different times and venues.  Some decide to settle at one place and others like myself move around because two performances of interest happened to be part of the staggering. The inclement weather didn’t help either. Also the common discussion i overheard relating Moogfest was that its a ritual involving little sleep. Unfortunately sleep won out despite the attempts and trust me, effort was made to experience more than what i was here for(chill related site) and what i personally anticipated….to transcend the landscape of the Moogfest itinerary.  And to ease that, I was kinda thankful the top end of the performance line up wasn’t that eye opening or rare.  It definitely wasn’t like 2016. KRS-One already toured Orlando twice this decade. Kelela has impressive write ups and reviews but perception wise doesnt match with where Grimes and Odesza was at that year. That said, that freed up opportunities to focus on the under card and admittedly even that was overwhelming. I understand Jon Hopkins and Mouse on Mars was part of the headline but that’s glorified in my view so i label them high under card – anything to prove my narrative.  All jokes aside, definitely more impressive in my opinion than 2017. To use a cliche, its a good problem to have.

Although there was so much to anticipate and revel in, here’s my list of highlights.

Randhaus Stage – Thursday afternoon set from 4pm to 7pm 


After publishing my Moogfest preview, I made sure to check out the Randhaus Stage to start off the festival and i wasn’t disappointed.  The Parts and Labor’s old garage style made for a good set up for a spring festival and the Randhaus label lived up to its billing – although to be honest i wasn’t able to check out Nay Fong or any of the Randhaus roster afterwards.  That said, it was a fun, brisk and hazy sample of ambient, soul and experimental vibes by the line up of Miniluv, ABZ, AXNT, Tony G, Kyōju and Gappa Mighty. During one set its haziness approached a standstill, with guitar riffs of Miniluv reflecting off the partially humid afternoon offset by some comforting breeze, evoking a Robin Guthrie/dream pop style that took me by surprise for a bit as i took a sip of the adult beverage to cool off.  This was chill.

No Eyes 

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photo by Meg Cowan IG megcowan

The atmospheric chip tune samples of No Eyes continued the brisk and hazy theme of Thursday afternoon towards the evening.  That said, some of the witch house and ambient influences faded out and thrusted into subdued drum n bass and overall happy beats. The insistence to dance was there and some of the audience had no issue in picking up on it.  From the stage on Thursday to the classroom an otherwise slow but weather improved Sunday afternoon, his Introduction to Chiptune and Nanoloops was a class worth staying until the end regardless of the technical difficulties between the Super Nintendo and the overhead projector.

Emily Sprague and Pamelia Stickney at First Presbyterian Church

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Pamelia Stickney photo by Stephanie Leathers IG-itsfeathers
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Emily Sprague photo by Brian Livingstone IG blivingst

As i stated in the preview, a highlight of Moogfest will always involve a performance at the First Presbyterian Church.  Last year, Colleen’s performance at the church was arguably the best of the festival. Although Thursday evening’s line up was sparsely attended, it was an opportunity for the seekers of aural levitating bliss to satisfy their desire for the ambience and the atmospheric. It first started off with Emily Sprague’s liquidy and luscious synth loops under a sea of blue flooding the high end of cathedral. Pamelia Stickney went on next and would do the same, as the thereminist’s sounds would levitate in a sea of multi colors. While i missed the Tesseellatum appearance by Nadia Sirota and Liam Byrne of the Bedroom Community afterwards, it apparently would be the shape of things to come for their sleep concert later.

Author and Punisher


The doom industrial Author and Punisher was the first performance i viewed under the Spatial Sound/A3 set up at the Armory.  Its a surround sound set up with 24 separate outputs meaning more splicing, more extraction of sounds and directing them to different outputs in the set up.  Keep in mind, some of Moog’s durationals are surrounded with four speakers which made for a splendid late night at the sleep concert that hosted 50. This was 24 outputs engulfing a venue that holds less than 1000 at a distance of over 100 feet with the speakers probably 10 to 20 feet high. Although the intent of the set up was to focus on the sounds surrounded within, the audience will always be interested in watching the performer, whether they have a joystick, a guitar, a laptop or a theremin. That said, with his distorted crunchy low bit guitar riffs overwhelming the stage, some of the audience realized its best to experiment his doomsday devices in the middle of the GA floor. Out of all the performances, i was pleasantly surprised with this one. Throughout, I could only think of the Justin Broadrick remix of Agoraphora Nosebleed.

Bedroom Community


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If there’s anyone at Moogfest 2018 that greatly benefited from appearing, it had to be the Icelandic record label/collective Bedroom Community. They seemingly performed at almost every venue, participated in conversation and screening of their documentary appropriately named “Everything Everywhere All the Time” and topped it off with an impressive Saturday night Spatial Sound/A3 programming showing at the Armory by Liam Byrne and the label founder Valgeir Sigurðsson named Dissonance, unleashing its symphony inspired soundscape unto the 360 degree sound system each meticulously fed into the 24 independent sources. Joined by Francesco Fabris they even returned the annual sleep concert durational back to its Robert Rich envisioned theme (minus the no tolerance for cameras at any time) and away from the meditation focused Larajji concept, by taking their moody soundscapes and reducing them into ghostlike afterthoughts.  At times the spacey sounds gave into soft sweeping violins before alternating back meshes of crumbling undertones, with four speakers surrounding the lines of mattresses provided by Nest Bedding which were comfortable by the way.  At three and a half hours, it was the longest i’ve stayed at a sleep concert.

Yves Tumor


In my opinion, Yves Tumor in his post apocalyptic anti hero set up carried the aura of stardom at Moogfest.  It didnt matter that his seminal ambient subtleties, his gothic “ruined” mixes of Alice Glass were crushed into rubbish, drum looped into caustic lawnmowing bits.   It was of no concern that he took early Boyd Rice/Non influences, of looping toy sounds drizzled with the asphalt jungle  – not necessarily influences popular with the mainstream – and redid God and Beast, while camped outside the noisiest of Roger Karmanik and Cold Meat Industry.  He commanded the Armory stage even as he demanded the lights turned down for a song or two. I knew i was in for the set, but was surprised many stuck around. I was thinking to myself why? Maybe it was the Spatial Sound. Maybe it was the rain. It was interesting at the very least. It was definitely a highlight of Moogfest 2018.

Psychic TV


This was more of a sentimental choice. I wasn’t old enough or living in the right city or scene to know about (founder of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV) Genesis P-Orridge when it “mattered to me”.  Sure Psychic TV ended up on some Wax Trax releases, but then he joined the Acid House movement around the time I was locked into Industrial and other underground related genres. I was curious if his set would resort to that but thankfully it didn’t, but then again perhaps I’d have a change of mind. Anyways, although his health has been deteriorating due to Leukemia, he looked delighted to be on stage performing over a selection of “300 releases over the years.” At one point after a song, he treats them as a memory he’d forgotten but happy to revisit again.

Next year, Moogfest 2019 celebrates its 15th year and this time will move up to April 25th to April 28th in Downtown Durham.  Short term discount tickets were offered to those who attended Moogfest 2018 for $80 General and $120 VIP  That expired midnight May 22nd.  UPDATE:  Tickets at early bird rates are available as of May 23rd.  Check out the Moogfest 2019 Eventbrite link but only good for a limited time only.