This was the view from where I stayed when I attended Moogfest:
Only 20 minutes outside of downtown Asheville, it shows you the incredible diversity of the landscape in this area. Juxtapose this with the electronic, synthesized world of Moog. Initially, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Two worlds that should ultimately clash instead became a harmonious solution.
Moogfest was held over Halloween weekend last year in Asheville, North Carolina. Many festivals take place over many weekends throughout the world, so this may prompt you to ask why is SOTRU bringing up Moogfest—if you’re the curious sort anyway. The answer is simple. Moogfest, maybe more than any other festival, makes the surrounding community that it takes place in a featured performer. Its history with Asheville is an important one, you could even say that there is a three-way synthesis between the Moog family, the Moog company and the Asheville community.
It’s important to note that the Moogfest was previously hosted in New York City, but returned home in 2010. The performer list was long, diverse and quite alluring. Acts that ranged from indie rock darlings MGMT and alternative legends Devo to hip-hop superstar Big Boi and ethereal Icelandic performer Jónsi took the various stages. Part of the proceeds went to the Bob Moog Foundation which you can learn more about here.
We spoke with Michelle Moog-Koussa, Bob Moog’s daughter and the foundation’s Executive Director about the important of hosting the festival in Asheville.
There seems to be this fantastic balance between the synthesized world of Moog and the pastoral surroundings of Asheville. Can you discuss that?
I think you’ve identified the exact dynamic that brought my father down here in the first place: balance. Dad was looking for solitude and quiet—far away from the corporate environment. In 1978, we moved from Buffalo, New York, to an 89 acre piece of land at the dead end of a long country road outside of Asheville. The driveway itself was 1/3 mile long. The property was nestled in a mountain cove, and had a beautiful stream running through it. At times, all you could hear was the stream and the wind blowing through the trees. The natural beauty of the place provided a much-needed balance to my father’s daily work in pushing sonic barriers.
The Moog ethos is steeped in organic, rich sounds and expansive creativity. You could say that Bob Moog’s work was the sonic mirror of the natural world. I think that’s what you feel when you’re in his much beloved hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.
Was it important to stage Asheville as much a part of the festival as much as the artists and other offerings?
I think it was because of the wonderful synergy that exists between the Moog ethos and the creative community in Asheville. There’s also a lot to do and see in Asheville, both culturally and recreationally. That made it a very attractive place to come hang out.
How do you feel Asheville benefits from having Moogfest?
Moogfest certainly provided a huge boon to Asheville’s economy, but it also provided invaluable exposure for Asheville to people all over the world, giving them a glimpse into the unique, creative, forward-thinking town that Asheville has become over the past few decades.
How do you feel the festival went?
Extremely well, especially for a first-time event. AC Entertainment, who produced the entire festival did an extraordinarily good job at putting together an entire weekend that wowed the audience. Fifty bands, five venues, ten thousand people. As my father would say, “What’s not to like?”.
I think the true success of the festival can be based on audience satisfaction. One thing that really struck me throughout the weekend was how happy and relaxed people seemed to be, whether it was at the panels and workshops, at the concerts or out on the streets. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.
Yes! Moogfest is planned for around the same time next year.
There were so many amazing performances. What were some highlights of the festival for you?
I’m going to have to be honest on this one—I didn’t get to hear much of the music because I was working the whole time. I spent the evenings backstage asking artists to sign items that we later auctioned off on eBay (with great success). I did hear a bit of Jónsi, Massive Attack, MGMT, Hot Chip, Pretty Lights and Thievery Corporation. They were all fantastic and I really regret I didn’t get to see more of the bands perform.
The Bob Moog Foundation was in charge of the panels and workshops that took place during the day in the Moogaplex. There were some amazing, historical moments in those panels that I’m extremely proud of, including exposing audiences to modular synthesis, sound design and forty years of Moog history. The panels were such a success that we’ll be expanding them in 2011.
Moogfest was a perfect gateway into the Asheville community. All taking place downtown, you could walk from venue to venue to catch the performance you wanted to see, enjoy the Moog-inspired artwork show or check in to one of the many panels held over the weekend. While the scope of the event was concentrated, it was enough to make you venture and interact. And all eyes weren’t ultimately always peering towards the various stages. Being held over Halloween weekend was license for many to forgo normal concert apparel for lavish costume. It gave the entire event that much more of a jubilant, even celebratory feel.
What was really different about the event other than its concentration on place, there were no token measures. While some performances very much outdid others, it had this rare seamless feel to it that made you feel like it was more about coming together around an idea, even around a moment in time. It would be a shame though not to point out that Big Boi whipped the crowd into hysteria with Outkast and solo material alike, Jónsi created an other-worldly experience and Dan Deacon conducted one of the most interactive and innovative live sets that I’ve ever seen.
The organizers of Moogfest (AC Entertainment) created a good balance allowing you to experience all the different dynamics of concert going (sans a stadium . . . thankfully) from a big hall with thousands to a more intimate theater-style setting to club-style scenes. It was a confluence of so many great cultural things and promises to only get better. As Michelle mentioned, plans are already in place for Moogfest in 2011 and no matter where you are, it’s worth the trip. Get the latest about Moogfest 2011 at the official Moogfest website.
We Want to Know:
- Have you been to Moogfest? What did you think?
- Have you been to a music festival that successfully incorporated the surrounding area? Tell us about it.
Start the conversation below!