Back to the Lab: a Moogfest 2018 Recap

While Moogfest’s new base in Durham is only a three-hour drive away for us, life presented plenty of obstacles this year as we headed to Moogfest. Whether it was car trouble, or bad weather, or police lights in our rearview mirror, there were a number of setbacks, but once we crossed the city limits, all problems receded from our minds.

Having all bonded at last year’s festival, Clara, Tim and I were making the trip again, and it felt great to be back in the welcoming, newly-hip college town. I’ve only missed one Moogfest in the last number of years, and it’s become a yearly event not just to return to a music festival, but to explore a new city and learn what makes it tick, first in Asheville, and now Durham. Certain downtown businesses are already starting to feel like old, familiar favorites of ours, like Rocks Barbershop, where you can have a beer at the bar while you wait (although I recommend the free massage chair), or Bull City Brewing, with their delicious IPAs and “bull nuts.”

But I digress.  Among these familiar landmarks we passed were familiar faces on the street, faces we’d only seen on websites or in magazines previously. “Was that Suzanne Ciani lurking by the lobby vending machine?  Now there goes Jenny Hval leaving a show at the Pinhook.  Oh shit, Jon Hopkins is standing behind us in line at the deli!  There’s Umfang and Fatima Al Qadiri, checking in to their hotel.”  It was pretty constant.  Since most Moogfest artists do some sort of lecture or workshop at a separate time (or day) than their main performance, it gives them time to catch other sets, and enjoy the city a bit.  Katie Gately was happy to drop in with us for photos and macchiatos,  while we discussed her spellbinding set of all-unreleased material from the night before.


There’s so much to do at Moogfest, and I must admit I’ve always slacked off a bit when it comes to the tech workshops and wide-ranging lectures that fill the daytime hours.  Many of these must be signed up for well in advance, so it’s best to plan ahead when attending Moog.  Still, we love checking out the Modular Marketplace, where Tim bought a Moog Theremini, and we fiddled around with vocoders and other music tech.  In the same room there was an exhibit of rare Ralph Steadman art, and in the loft above was a vinyl flea market.  These kinds of unexpected combinations are plentiful at Moogfest, like a flute wielding Angel Deradoorian teaming up with Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley, or Suzanne Ciani leading a live modular synth scoring of the classic silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Check out Clara’s photos (and one or two from me!) below. Featuring: Jon Hopkins, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Wes Borland, Katie Gately, KRS-One, Aisha Devi, Deradoorian & Stephen O’Malley, Jenny Hval, Ralph Steadman art, Modular Marketplace.

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Grab early-bird priced tickets for next year’s Moogfest (happening in late April instead of May) HERE.


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