Mixing Music with Politics

Speakers thumped out bass-heavy remixes while flashing neon lights danced through a fog machine. Blue banners hung behind the make-shift stage and from the third floor balcony of Witherspoon Student Center, matching the rectangular area on Harris Field bound by Obama yard signs. This was all part of Wolfpack for Obama’s event featuring Rock the Vote with Passion Pit. Two members of the band took turns playing a DJ set, featuring remixes of popular songs and random assortments of beats. The crowd awkwardly toe-tapped during the 6:00 p.m. set. They did take the time out, however, to say, “I don’t care who you vote for. Obama, Gary Johnson, whatever. Just don’t say Romney, because you’re educated. You know better.”


Musicians have been using their celebrity to try to persuade fans’ political opinions for ages, but with the upcoming presidential election and accessibility to every kind of social media platform, we’re seeing more of it than ever before: email blasts, tweets, Facebook posts, Tumblr reposts, stage banter and of course, the sharing of infamous memes. Some artists just want to end the apathy of voting by teaming up with nonpartisan voter registration organizations like HeadCount and Rock the Vote. Wilco, for example, took a team of volunteers with them for every American tour date this year to canvas the audience.

Others want to voice their opinions about politics not so subtly. Many local artists during the spring Shakori discussed voting against Amendment One and what that vote would mean to them – informational calls to action without any sugarcoating. Like Passion Pit, other artists have participated in rallies, forums and concerts supporting a particular candidate or party. President Obama’s reelection campaign has been supported by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Jay-Z, Beyonce (and probably Blue Ivy, too), Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, Kanye West, Dave Matthews, The National, Pete Wentz, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Joel Madden, Jason Mraz, Gwen Stefani, David Grohl, Cyndi Lauper, Adam Levine and more. In 2008, Durham-based Merge Records hosted Obama rallies featuring their artists, including Grammy-winner Arcade Fire. Superchunk, Baobab and Future Kings of Nowhere have more or less live tweeted the recent debates, not being shy whatsoever about their thoughts.

It’s harder to find the same allegiance among musicians on the conservative side.  This year’s Republican National Convention’s lineup included Oak Ridge Boys, Conrad Oberg, Lynyrd Skynyrd,  Philip Alongi, Neal E. Boyd, Lane Turner, Randy Owen, Jack Blades, 3 Doors Down, Ayla Brown, Beau Davidson, The Kantinas, Danny Gokey, Taylor Hicks and BeBe Winans. Nicki Minaj, despite having Obama’s endorsement in her fight against Mariah Carey, favors Romney on Lil Wayne’s newest mixtape. The Killers, who Romney allegedly enjoys, would “be open” to performing in support of the candidate.

Now, it’s not all that surprising that musicians tend to lean towards more liberal views. The imbalance is interesting though. Why do so few indie bands (that aren’t offered to play big gigs) publicly support conservative ideas and candidates? And if there were a “Wolfpack for Romney” group on campus, who would they get to perform? Even in the 2008 election, there was a significant difference in musicians’ support between parties. Hank Williams Jr. and Gretchen Wilson were among the most prominent McCain supporters.

Is this just a genre division? If you’re trying to reach younger voters through music, what’s the best way to accomplish this?


Festival Coverage

MoogFest: A Look Back




This coming Thursday sees the arrival of the annual Thanksgiving holiday here in America. Like everyone else, I’ll be eating turkey among family. I’ll also be thinking about what I was thankful for this year, and perhaps the thing that pops up the most is live music. I’ve seen plenty of it this year, mostly great, and one of the highlights was the second annual MoogFest in Asheville, North Carolina.

Friday, October 28

Atlas Sound

My first stop at this year’s MoogFest was at The Orange Peel to catch Atlas Sound. With Deerhunter, Bradford Cox tends to mix sprawling psych-rock landscapes with gorgeous melodies. His solo project, Atlas Sound, follows a similar sound, but whereas Deerhunter can get very loud and very rocking, Atlas Sound songs tend to be quieter, more fragile affairs, usually absent of electric guitars. Sitting on a stool in the middle of the stage, Cox played and sang delicate melodies that he would then loop over one another. Songs would build from vocals and guitar to a great wall of sound. This was the third time I had seen Atlas Sound, and while I enjoy Cox’s solo performances, I’ve seen what he’s capable of with a band backing him (Atlanta band The Selmanaires backed him at one of those prior shows). While he certainly does a fine job on his own, the songs just sound better when he brings a band along. After catching a few songs, I decided to move along and head over to the Asheville Civic Center.

Tangerine Dream

I must make a confession: prior to MoogFest, I had not listened to one second of Tangerine Dream’s music. So when I first walked into the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium half-way through the band’s set, I was pleased to hear psychedelic, ambient soundscapes coming from the speakers. This went on for a couple songs. Then things just got….. weird. The music quickly devolved into cheesy, Mannheim-Steamroller-like synth-schlock. Guitarist Bernhard Beibl and saxophonist would play solos that sounded straight out of a 1970’s porn flick. While it was interesting to watch leader Edgar Froese experiment with all manner of Moog synthesizers, plus the fact that he looked like some sort of urban witchdoctor with his hat, scarf, glasses, and long white hair, I ultimately walked away disappointed, knowing what the band was capable of.



TV On The Radio


Brian Eno’s Illustrated Talk

Crystal Castles

Amon Tobin

77 Million Paintings

Active Child


Neon Indian

Passion Pit

Ghostland Observatory

Gold Panda


Extra photos:































Local Music Music News and Interviews

Moogfest 2011 – Get entered to win!

North Carolina is on point with fall music festivals – in September, Raleigh hosted Hopscotch Music Festival. This weekend, Pittsboro will have Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. At the end of the month, Moogfest will reign in Asheville.

Moogfest, named for Bob Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer who was a research professor at UNC-Asheville, is back for its annual music festival during the weekend of October 28 – 30.  Different venues across Asheville’s downtown will host The Flaming Lips, STS9, Passion Pit, TV on the Radio and many more.  In addition to a packed lineup, there will also be artists in panel discussions, question and answer sessions, and workshops.  One thing I’m particularly excited about is the opportunity, in honor of Moog himself, to try out a variety of Moog instruments. There will also be visual art exhibitions, installations, and film screenings.

WKNC has two pairs of weekend passes to give away for this event – but it will take a little luck! Each day until October 21, one WKNC DJ will do a giveaway to get a listener put into a drawing the tickets. During Local Lunch on October 21, DJ Kligz will do the drawing live on-air and announce the recipients of the weekend passes.


Go ahead and put our studio lines on speed dial so when the WKNC DJ asks for it, you’ll be ready to win!

(919) 860-0881 or (919) 515-2400

Music News and Interviews


This week at WKNC, it’s a veritable giveaway-a-palooza:

Barenaked Ladies w/Ben Kweller @ Raleigh Amphitheater on 7/31

Phoenix @ The Koka Booth Amphitheater on 6/11

Passion Pit @ The Fillmore in Charlotte on 6/11

Martha Ann Motel @ Slim’s on 6/11

The Light Pines @ Pour House on 6/11

Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ Cat’s Cradle on 6/12

Max Indian @ Pour House on 6/12

We’re also still giving away passes to Robin Hood, Sex and the City 2, and Killers at Crossroads 20,

as well as The Karate Kid advance screening at North Hills 14 Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Keep Listening to WKNC, and ya might just win something!!!!!

Music News and Interviews

Still passionate for Passion Pit?

Well, if you are, WKNC has more tickets available for the Passion Pit show at The Fillmore Charlotte on June 11. Be the correct caller when the DJ asks for it between now and June 10th, and you could win tickets for you and a friend.

Music News and Interviews

Passion Pit Giveaway

Do you love Passion Pit?  So do we.  That’s why all this week we’re going to be giving away pairs of tickets to see Passion Pit on June 11 at The Fillmore Charlotte.  If you want to win tickets, listen in and be the first caller to correctly identify the Passion Pit song clip when the DJ asks for it.  Tickets for the show are also available at Live Nation.

Music News and Interviews

DJ Ones’ Five Music Facts from the past week

1. The Dead Weather have announced details on the release of their sophomore album. The follow-up to last year’s “Horehound” entitled “Sea of Cowards” is set to release May 7. The first single off of the album, “Die by the Drop” is set to be released within the next couple of weeks. (via NME)

2. Legendary musician Alex Chilton has passed away at the age of 59. After complaints of feeling ill, Chilton was rushed to a hospital in New Orleans. Chilton was scheduled to play alongside a reunited Big Star in Austin, Texas for SXSW. (via Pitchfork)

3. The 10-year anniversary of Modest Mouse’s “The Moon and Antarctica” will be reissued on vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day. The vinyl is set to contain the original track listing and original album artwork, unlike the 2004 remaster. (via Pitchfork)

4. French filmmaker Michel Gondry has revealed that he is working with Bjork on what he describes as a “scientific musical.” Gondry said, “We have a very ambitious project, a sort of scientific musical. … [It’s a movie], but maybe more for museums. Like a 40 minute IMAX project in 3D.” The two, who have worked together previously on music videos, have no official plans have been set just yet. (via Pitchfork)

5. Passion Pit are set to release a reissue of their album “Manners.” Alongside this, the band has also expanded their North American tour. The expanded edition will include new artwork, three bonus tracks, and is set to release April 13. (via NME)