Best performances from Zola Jesus and Colleen at Moogfest 2017

Colleen at First Presbyterian Church credit – Cap Blackard

Durham NC – As Moogfest 2017 comes to a close, as i’ve said in another article i was underwhelmed by the line up at first until I gave myself into the build up and found some interesting nuggets to check out.  Unfortunately as the event closed in, i had to fight illness and there was some shows i was interested that i missed.  That said out of the performances and events i made it too during the May 18th to May 21st festival,  two of them – Colleen and Zola Jesus were the best on the list.

Flying in from San Diego to perform the last of her two show appearance in the United States, Cécile Schott known as Colleen graced the First Presbyterian Church with what would be the last time she features songs from her old set spanning 15 years.    The first i’ve ever heard of Colleen’s experimental and ambient music was probably in 2009.   “Summer Water” was a bright slightly gray-ish atmosphere of looping classical music strings and Colleen playing strings above it.  Other songs involve her ghosting voice loop amongst the other echoing sounds moving in and out.   While these sounds are nothing new to me, living in Florida i’ve grown used to not seeing performances from artists like this due to many valid reasons such as artist logistics, their opinion about our weather, lack of support, etc.  I accepted the conclusion she would be like the others.  Although she didn’t perform in Florida, knowing that one of her two US appearances would be a 90 minute airline trip away was special in itself.

If there’s any performance that delivered more than promise it was this show.   She played a good long set and rekindled that magical interest that connected me with her music last decade.  Ironically as much as she liked the festival she hated the Saturday humidity in North Carolina.   When she said that i could only pencil down the negatives of a music artist from another part of the world playing live in the Southeast United States.   On another note, luckily for her and day time workshop the next day the temperature dropped to the low 80s.   Anyhow she closed out with 2 songs that signaled a transition from old to new.  Captain of Nothing from the last album of same name before playing a song from her new album with the new electronic setup.  No she didn’t pull out the lap top but she said its the last time the Captain of Nothing and her older music will be played on tour due to accommodation issues.  After the show, she quickly clarified the hiatus for both and new songs physically and for time constraints, music from the last release Captain of None will not be played at her next tour.

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Zola Jesus was another artist i’ve been interested in that i’ve never seen in concert.  She also made some appearances in Florida early this decade which i missed.  While i penciled in her show for Moogfest, i was skeptical if her act would be compatible to an early evening, big parking lot show like Motorco Park on a Friday evening.  I also was prepared to walk over the VIP area if it got too crowded.  Luckily that wasn’t the case.  I had a nice brisk walk to the front and witnessed her lead her band through a powerful and poetic performance to close out the humid day and slowly bring in the night.  Zola has a presence that teeters between the feeling of anonymity and sheer stardom.  Like she wants to tackle topics in her music that aren’t necessarily comfortable.  That said its that charisma that can undo all of it.  And its why i have been hesitant and have generally ignored her because unlike say Chelsea Wolfe she’s meant to ascend to accessibility which means being associated with boring and uninteresting music eventually.  So in that sense i felt lucky to watch her beforehand.  Another interesting tidbit is that its great that Zola Jesus and Colleen are fans of the Moogfest and have said that they can get behind a festival like this.   I agree.  The combination of performances, keynotes, installations, workshops, conversations and films – happening at all parts of the day and even better happening in theaters, churches and inside comfortable AC buildings like the Armory and the American Underground Ground….within reasonable walking distance – is what separates Moogfest from your standard set up festival in the middle of nowhere.


Music that will give you the chills at Moogfest 2017


Focused as additional content to the once or twice monthly This Is Chill/Chill # shows, our related stories involve artists who make chill related music, bright and hypnotic that at times teeter towards the melancholy and even mid-tempo varieties. That said if your definition of chill also includes the shivers sent down your spine, Moogfest 2017 has a couple of artists that won’t disappoint.


Margaret Chardiet’s ten year project is the noise and industrial Pharmakon. Described as confrontational and concise, she walks the fine line engaging with her audience like Masonna has a generation beforehand while perfecting her pre-recorded sounds during her live perfomance. Check out the youtube video of her day performances. This time she’ll be playing Saturday Night May 20th at the Motorco Music Hall.  Lets hope she wears a wireless headset that night – kidding of course.

Her last album, Bestial Burden, focused on the disconnect between mind and body, looking at the human as an isolated consciousness stuck inside of a rotting vessel. For Contact its her 10 year anniversary recording, as she wanted to look at the other side of the spectrum — the moments when our mind can come outside of and transcend our bodies.

Haxan Cloak

Apparently i missed him last year but with so many acts i can’t say i was surprised. He will have share a four hour set with Nick Zinner as part of the Durational Sound Installation at the American Underground on Friday May 19th. Expect a dark, droney atmospheric set. The Needle Drop called his Excavation album one of the scariest sonic experiences you’ll hear from 2013. I’m not sure if this will clash with the daylight from the outside or will it be locked in darkness such as last years Sound Installation held at 21C Hotel that featured Richard Devine amongst others.


Moor Mother

Labelled hardcore poetry, protest music and power electronics, all three attack like distorted voices filling up inside your head. Her 2016 debut album Fetish Bones was named one of the top experimental albums of the year by Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. Moor Mother will be part of the Durational Sound Installation series at American Underground Storefront. Her four hour set will happen Thurs afternoon May 18th.


Disclaimer – some of these acts may not bring their reputation to the door much less to the floor.  They may just perform a DJ set featuring remixes of other artists theyve done.  Haxan Cloak did this in particular in Houston.  Last year the normally chill act of Heathered Pearls was far from it when he closed out Saturday Night at Pinhook with a typical DJ set.

Chill #26

This episode of Chill continues to feature music from the upcoming Moogfest 2017 in Downtown Durham happening May 18th to May 21st.  Baltra, DJ King Britt, Zola Jesus and more are featured.  Its also the closest Chill gets to playing house music as you’ll get.  Humor aside, check out over 300 events at this years Moogfest scattered throughout Downtown Durham.  For more information go to and for tickets visit  And now this is chill….


Early Friday morning sleep concert at Moogfest 2017 a popular attraction

One of the more interesting attractions of Moogfest last year was the the 8 hour sleep concert.  With Robert Rich performing, it was even more significant because it was a return to the overnight concerts he performed during the 1980s. Conflicting information about his last sleep concert vary. Moogfest and the local media reported his last sleep concert was in 2003. The Huff Post article posted a picture of him at the Red Bull Music Academy as late as 2014. Regardless of how long it has been the sleep concerts became a unique event with Rich incorporating ambient drones and other sounds to induce a realm between awake and sleep.

My experience last year was relatively short. I was placed on the waiting list and had no chance. I stayed at the Armory watching the riveting J-Lin performance until close. With luck i was able to be fit in afterwards. While the sleeping mattresses were occupied, my tired body was able to take in less than 2 hours of lying on the floor. I went back to my room near the airport after. I will be within walking distance this time.

The 8 hour sleep concert will happen again at Moogfest 2017, this time featuring American multi-instrumentalist Laraaji whose collaboration with Brian Eno in the late 70s would be the start of a long and prolific journey spanning three decades.  It will also be his very first sleep concert.

For more information go to and for tickets check out the the Eventbrite page for Moogfest 2017.

#moogfest2017  #laraaji  #sleepconcert


photos from Moogfest 2016

Read more then click the link below to check out photos from Moogfest 2016 featuring the Orb, Heathered Pearls amongst workshops and interviews.
Also don’t forget #moogfest2017 from May 18th to May 21st in Downtown Durham.
Moogfest 2016