On Oct. 28, Moogfest 2011 will officially begin in beautiful Asheville, N.C. The festival, now in its second year, brings together artists from across the electronic and experimental music spectrum to celebrate the legacy of synth pioneer and music technology visionary Bob Moog. From musical legends such as Suicide, Tangerine Dream, and Terry Riley to up-and-comers CANT, Oneohtrix Point Never, and araabMUZIK to Amon Tobin’s elaborate and visually stunning ISAM show, the three-day festival truly provides something for every ear. In the days leading up to, during, and after the festival check back regularly to the WKNC Blog for various Road To Moog features, including interviews with artists playing the festival and reviews and photos from the festival.
Just John and I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park on the weekend of July 14-16. It was hot. Really hot. The crowds came, though, and were treated to great performance after great performance. Every show I saw over the weekend was top-notch. The festival’s treatment of its fans was also top-notch. Thousands of bottles of water were passed out to the crowds to keep them hydrated (no thanks to the goons who just threw water everywhere instead of drinking it). Security were friendly throughout the entire weekend. Two air-conditioned city buses were brought in to help cool down festival-goers. What follows is a list of superlatives of some of the best, worst, and weirdest moments of the festival. Enjoy.
Best light show: The giant glowing crystals at Animal Collective
Biggest asshole: Ariel Pink, throwing another temper-tantrum and walking off stage halfway through his set
Most “f**k"s per minute: Odd Future
Highest number of gray-hairs in the crowd: Guided By Voices
Coolest stage wear: Nika Danilova of Zola Jesus’ very modern dress
Best mosh pit: No Age (which I stayed in for about five minutes too long, causing a short bout of heat sickness)
Best dance moves: Cold Cave’s Dominick Fernow, whose stomp-n-spin move was endlessly entertaining
Biggest dance party: Cut Copy, who got an entire field of thousands of people to dance
Most frequent weed clouds: Curren$y, unsurprisingly
Worst scheduling decision: Two-way tie between scheduling Odd Future and Shabazz Palaces, two of the festival’s five hip-hop acts, on at the same time and putting DJ Shadow on when the sun was still out, making his projector-using ”Shadowsphere“ completely useless (though, to the festival’s credit, they really couldn’t have put him anywhere else)
Best facial hair: Ian Williams of Battles, whose handlebar-stache perfectly matched his swanky get-up
People who should have passed out from heat stroke but, miraculously, didn’t: Yuck’s Daniel Blumberg, who wore jeans and a long-sleeve, denim button-down and Cold Cave’s Wesley Eisold and Dominick Fernow, both in black jeans, black shirts, and black leather jackets.
French trio Yelle visited Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle on Tuesday, April 26. Unfortunately, I missed the synth-pop goodness of Brooklyn-via-Milwaukee duo (and brothers) French Horn Rebellion, making it into the Cradle just in time for the beginning of Yelle’s set.
Playing for just over an hour, the group put on what can aptly be described as a non-stop, sweaty, ecstatic dance party. Singer Yelle fronted the group with charisma and charm that reminded me a lot of Robyn (not to mention the musical similarities between the two), winning the crowd over from the get-go with her friendly personality, mile-wide smile, and playful dance moves. Drummer GrandMarnier and keyboard player Tepr backed her with the buoyant electro-pop sounds found on the group’s two records, Pop Up and the recently released Safari Disco Club. The crowd seemed to reflect that energy right back at the stage. Every body in the Cradle was moving and sweating. Hands were raised throughout the entire show and glowsticks flew back and forth across the room.
While I’m not very familiar with the group’s song titles, I did recognize “Ce Jeu” early in the set, and the group played most, if not all, of Safari Disco Club. They brought along a simple, but effective, light show that reflected the rich colors found in the music. It was the most fun I’ve had at a show in a good while and helped serve to cure up some blues after a rough week. If you ever get the chance to see Yelle, don’t think; just go, dance, and have a great time.
Hopscotch, the Independent Weekly’s annual music festival in downtown Raleigh will be releasing the lineup for their September 3-day festival on Wednesday, April 20th. Greg Lowenhagen of Independent Weekly will be on-air with our very own Chuck from 11-noon to talk about the show and this year’s line up.
Last year hosted names like Panda Bear, Public Enemy, The Rosebuds, Sharon Van Etten, Megafaun, Best Coast and more than 100 other bands. This year is sure to be even better; full of national acts as well as great local talent. Tune in to find out who!
Tickets will go on sale as the lineup is released on April 20th. Free 3-day wristbands were given out at local record stores for Record Store Day April 16. Stay tuned to WKNC and keep reading Independent Weekly to find out ways you can win tickets.
For more musical fun, Hopscotch is hosting a few free local shows throughout Raleigh on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (4/21-4/23) in celebration of their lineup release!
This past Thursday served as the end of March (and, hopefully, the cold). It also served as the second show WKNC has presented at the still-pretty-newly-reopened Kings in downtown Raleigh (the first being this year’s Double Barrel Benefit).
UK-via-Italy act Banjo or Freakout opened the show with a set of airy songs not too far removed in style from Papercuts. Backed by a drummer and bassist/guitarist, main man Alessio Natalizia worked his way through a set of songs culled largely from his recently released, self-titled full-length debut. The first half of the set saw the trio playing songs full of interesting arrangements, with Natalizia’s echo-laden, airy vocals up front. Unfortunately, the remainder of the set saw the band work their way through a handful of interchangeable standard-indie-rock songs that lacked the charm of the first half. That said, it’ll be interesting to see where Natalizia takes Banjo or Freakout’s sound.
Jason Quever, the main force behind Papercuts, brought along a full band to flesh out his dreamy songs, reminiscent of a male-fronted Beach House meets The Clientele. Touring behind the release of new album Fading Brigade, one of the best releases of 2011 so far, Quever and his band brought the songs to life with the sort of laid-back energy found on the recordings. The small, but appreciative, crowd swayed along to the effortless grooves of songs like “Do What You Will” and “Chills,” cheering the band back out for a brief, but well-received, encore.
Durham trio Hammer No More The Fingers are set to release their new album, Black Shark, on April 5. To celebrate the release, the band will play three in-store shows at local record stores. The band will play at CD Alley in Chapel Hill at 3 p.m., Bull City Records in Durham at 5 p.m., and Schoolkids Records in Raleigh at 7 p.m. The shows are free, so get out and support some local music and businesses.
If one were to compile a canon of influential independent artists that have truly shaped the genre, Yo La Tengo would certainly have a spot on the list. At least that’s what I’ve been told. The New Jersey trio began their debut over twenty-five years ago. Now that’s something to contend with. I wasn’t even born. Sunday night marked the second night performance for the band at Cats Cradle and although it didn’t officially sell out (like the previous night), I still encountered parking issues and a crowded venue. I’d never seen Yo La Tengo perform, but I had spun their tracks modestly over the air in the past and was somewhat familiar with their discography. Needless to say, I had a lot of expectations.
My first surprise for the evening was the crowd itself. As someone who’s use to seeing Cats packed with a rowdy youthful bunch for shows of the likes of Caribou or Of Montreal, Tengo’s turnout was a lot more, well, experienced. Not that I’m complaining, but it certainly did speak to the years of influence and fan base the band has acquired. My second surprise of the night was right after frontman Ira Kaplan, drummer and wife of Ira, Gerogia Hubley, and bassist James McNew took the stage. A large game show wheel was carted to the front. Its pie slices were outfitted personally to fit song choices to be played by the band that night. A few selections included songs by their associated acts, Dump and the Condo Fucks. Another pie slice featured songs with people’s names in them. The band finally chose an overly eager man in the front row who convinced us he had been waiting at Cats all week for the show. His spin lasted a few moments before stopping on the choice for songs that started with the letter ’S’.
DJ Chuck also attended the show and commented that “Yo La Tengo have been around so long, and their catalog is so vast, that it’s hard to know every song of theirs. They did close out the set with a couple I did know however, those songs being the fan-favorite Sugarcube and Sudden Organ." He continued on to say, ” after a half-hour break, the band came back on for their second, wheel-less set. Running through a barage of songs that ranged from quiet and pretty to loud and full of feedback, the band closed the set with a 20-plus minute song that started out quiet and gradually built it’s way up to a noisy climax, with guitarist Ira Kaplan swinging his guitar around like a madman, inducing all kinds of feedback.“
The band came back out for a short encore consisting of Autumn Sweater, their cover of Daniel Johnston’s Speeding Motorcycle, and another cover which Chuck nor I didn’t catch the name of, but was a quiet, acoustic number.
I was pleasantly happy that Yo La Tengo pulled tracks from their most recent album release from September 2009, Popular Songs. It’s a great album which features the bluesy sexual rock and roll of Here To Fall, beautiful folk with More Stars Than There Are In Heaven and nostalgic instrumental with The Fireside. Yo La Tengo’s show proved to be just as versatile where their age was showing- in a good way. The trio seems to have adapted to the trends of music over the years, but they have never let it label or define them. Their performance had me on Sunday, (Ellos me tengan), and I think I can finally appreciate their role within this eclectic music genre.
It was a frigid night on Friday, but that didn’t keep people from coming out to a great local bill happening at Kings.
Starting off the night were Soft Company. A local supergroup of sorts, with Missy Thangs of The Love Language serving as bandleader, backed by members of such defunct local acts as Lake Inferior and Violet Vector & The Lovely Lovelies, the band made their way through a set of mid-tempo songs that brought to mind 70’s AM radio and classic pop. The highlight of the set was a song midway through (that I didn’t catch the name of) that slowly built to an epic couple minutes of wailing guitars and prolonged “oh"s from Thangs.
Taking a break between sets to play some pinball down in Neptunes, I came back up to find a curiously less full Kings. Josh Carpenter, who plays drums in Asheville band Floating Action, brought along his own set of original songs that brought to mind The Old Ceremony on a sugar rush. With a full album recorded and (hopefully) due out soon, he’s definitely one to keep an eye on in the coming year.
Organos finally came on around midnight to perform one of the best sets by a local band I’ve seen in recent memory. Maria Albani, her bass, and a couple pals encircled a table covered in various percussive instruments and a glockenspiel, while Reid Johnson from Schooner and Nathan White from Nathan Oliver played intertwining guitar runs and Ginger Wagg, of Veelee, provided the back beat. The set ran through all of Organos’ debut, The Limbs EP, as well as several new songs. One of the best aspects of the show was how well the band played together. It’d be easy for the ramshackle songs on the EP to come across messy live, but the band performed them with an effortless grace that further revealed the subtleties and intricacies in the music. As a bonus, Albani’s between-song banter rivaled that of Bradford Cox’s in hilarity, making quips such as "this is our guitarist, Justin Bieber”(referring to White).
Overall, the warm tones found in the night’s music served as the perfect counter to the icy winds blowing outside.
Local label Denmark Records brought Brooklyn electro-pop duo Javelin to town this past Thursday, November 11, for their third Raleigh show in four months at the recently re-opened Kings. I unfortunately missed the Panda-Bear-but-less-weird sounds of local act It Is Rain In My Face, but arrived right in time to catch the start of Athens, Georgia’s Reptar. With bassist Ryan Engelberger M.I.A., the band still managed to put on an energetic show, keeping the crowd dancing with synth-pop reminiscent of Passion Pit, sans the obnoxious vocals. Dressed in a choir robe and multi-colored sunglasses, keyboard player William Kennedy bounced around with singer/guitarist Graham Ulicny like two kids hopped on Red Bull and Pixie Stix, their boundless energy clearly rubbing off on the crowd.
After a brief set break, Javelin kicked off their set of sample-heavy party jams. Mixing in older tracks such as “Radio” and “Soda Popinski” with newer cuts, including personal favorite “C Town”, the duo of George Langford and Tom van Buskirk never once let their set go into non-danceable territory during their nearly hour-long set. The duo also managed to drop in a few verses from songs other than their own, including Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” With a much larger turnout than the nearly-empty Small Black show a couple weeks before, the show proved to be a success for everyone—for Denmark, for Kings, for the fans, and especially for Javelin, who went so far as to ask, “Why haven’t we moved here yet?”
In an email sent out earlier this week, the folks behind Hopscotch Music Festival announced the dates for next year’s festival. Go ahead and mark your calendars, for the festival will return to downtown Raleigh on September 8-10, 2011. The email notes to keep an eye on the fest’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as its website, for updates on Hopscotch, round two.