Moogfest 2017: Day Two
Posted on 20 May 2017
As Moogfest keeps cruising along, the Runaway press squad keeps its ears to the streets. With the festival just past its halfway point, Justin and Sammy take a minute to look back at the highlights and forward at what’s yet to come.
Q: Day 2: Was it good for you?
Justin: Day 2 was f-ing exhausting! Nine hours straight in-store on a bad back tested my endurance, but this is where champions are made. I was able to slip away for most of the Stranger Things live score. That’s all I needed from this festival. That show rocks in large part because the soundtrack is brilliant and uniquely speaks to my childhood adolescence.
If Simian’s disco truly is mobile, I want it following me everywhere. Even with the injury, my body was in constant motion the entire time. The duo hit the sweet spot between EDM and disco that existed before the boom of what a friend once called “the sound of a lawn mower being put through a woodchipper.”
Without the sustenance from Parts & Labor, my night would have ended at Motorco Park. I skipped Animal Collective for the fuel to boogie one more time at the Derrick May show which was rockin’! It was reminiscent of the Ryan Hemsworth late night get down at last year’s festival. The Armory is fastly approaching Best Dance Spot in Durham status. I’m amazed I’m even able to stand up but maybe all the gyrating wasn’t just good for my soul.
Sammy: Justin—you should get a massage at one of the seances, I’m sure these occultists would help you out. Day 2 was a tad less full of surprises, but the day was pretty packed. I can’t believe we’re only halfway through this beast.
I caught a couple of daytime acts from the “Church of Space” before heading to the church of Presbyterian worship for the Sudan Archives show. In a eye-motif red-and-green dress, afro’ed, she looped laid-back rhythmic grounds and played an electric violin overtop. Down the street, we snuck our way into a packed Carolina Theater for S U R V I V E doing Stranger Things (which seems like the most appropriate way to get in to a Stranger Things show), where one of the dudes was just eating snacks from a big ol’ bucket. (Honestly what could that be? Grapes? Cheese doodles? Chocolate bonbons?) The ambient tension built and ebbed; it was a good appetizer for the night.
Because the night was more purely lit. Simian Mobile Disco at the Armory had the crowd cutting more rugs than a broken Roomba, although their particular brand of house thumpage was not, we would find out, all the way turnt up. The sheer mass of the lights at the show kept stealing my attention away; one volunteer who had helped set them up kept bragging that each projector cost $25000. Got it, dude. Down at the mainstage, Animal Collective did their thing, whatever that is. Sad-clown totemic heads on stage staring out bemusedly, one band member had on a headlamp and was cyclopsing around. A highlight was the two singers alternating scattaco voice-bursts with one another, each of which they loaded onto beatpads that they could play back and forth.
The nightcap was a wild one: Derrick May at the Armory had the whole earth shaking. I think my heart is still feeling the bass, but no complaints here.
Q: Favorite act from day 2?
Justin: Man. As much as I had my heart set on the Stranger Things soundtrack, I have to give the award to Simian Mobile Disco for just crushing it song after song. It’s a bit unfair given that Adam Graetz’s visuals are about as mind blowing as the shows themselves but we already knew that.
Sammy: Toss-up between Sudan Archives and Derrick May (which is itself a win for Moog, I never thought I’d be out getting wavy to house shows). Sudan Archives had seemingly swallowed the world, and played lush melodies by bow and spare riffs by fingerpicking. She looped her voice in as a soft percussion in some songs, and danced flowingly, eyes raised, during singing breaks. A couple of high-intensity Eastern-inflected violin solos late had the congregation breathless. Her singing style was understated (her lyrics, too), but that worked, I thought, for the space.
The venue is my favorite in Durham, and one of Moog’s most brilliant moves: First Presbyterian Church turns music into religious experience. The organ behind the singer vaults upward and brings us all along with it, and the music feels like communion with where it’s pointing.
Anyway, Derrick May was exactly the opposite, but was skull-clutchingly wild.
Q: What stuck out from day 2?
Justin: The streets of downtown looked emptier than I expected during the day. I want to attribute that to solid daytime programming or the modest rain scare around 5pm but I don’t have anecdotal evidence to back up my claim. Hit me up on Twitter if you were at daytime activities and help me further my research.
Sammy: Hell ya Justin, it goes down in the DM.
The Church of Space’s afternoon act, their street theater masterwork, was one of their crew—with painted-on head tats adorning his bald head—swinging a toilet plunger around and yelling at passers-by about space shit. Other associates wandered around for a more personal version of the same. When light from the stars reaches your eyes, “you entangle with the whole universe! Three photons a second! The photons are having sex in your eyes!” Later, when an unaffiliated Christian street preacher hollered at me about saving my soul, the performance came into full view.
Q: Day 1 vs. Day 2?
Justin: Like I said, I was all in for the Stranger Things set but overall, I got to experience more events in Day 1 so I’ll give the nod in their direction but Simian Mobile Disco might have a slight edge for best show so far.
Sammy: Day 2 was solid throughout, but lacked some of the “huh? Wow!” factor of its prequel. I did miss the Ondioline Orchestra’s follow-up performance, though, and heard that Gaika similarly blow the hinges off the mind’s door. But you can only see so much...
On Stranger Things: when are Durm’s Duffer Brothers gonna pop into the festivities??
Q: Durham, you in there?
Justin: It is a little disappointing that the area outside Motorco/Fullsteam is closed off to the public. There was something unifying about seeing non-Moogfest homies outside symbiotically enjoying the festival.
Would be cool to see AOC/Moogfest offer the Flex Passes again next year. It’s a great idea for local goodwill and benefits all parties involved.
Sammy: I walked past a bar in east of the festivities, and watched some merrymakers sitting down holding court with folks passing by about the prospects of Trump being impeached, and the country’s future under President Mike Pence. They were not optimistic. Just some political philosophy on your local sidewalk.
More to the point, I got to slip away for an artist talk by the homie Luke Demarest at the Carrack Modern. His work uses coding and 3D-printing to examine questions of humanity and creation; what could be more Moog’ed out than that? Cool to see the host city thinking about some of the same things as the festival.
Still haven’t smelled as many grape blunts as at last year’s GZA show, though. A boy can dream.
Q: Day and a half left, what are you still excited for?
Justin: Anything related to The Chronic is something for a self-proclaimed purist like myself so the Colin Wolfe talk is a must. As for shows, I definitely want to show love for friends of the brand ZenSoFly and DJ Chela who open up the main stage tonight. A quick stop for some MATI and we’re in it for the Premo/FlyLo back-to-back. Blessings to the rap gods.
Sammy: DJ Premier, Flying Lotus, c’mon son!
Plus Colleen at First Pres because I’ll see anything there, and plus local ZenSoFly putting on for the Triangle on the mainstage. Some come down easy-peasy movie watching tomorrow will be welcome—watching a Sunday matinee of It Follows last year was a perfect ending to the fest.
(And, honestly, that Gotye’s Ondioline Orchestra tonight, I’ll say it. Come at me bro!)