May 24, 2018
So much for the daily updates from Moogfest 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. With a smartphone, I could have provided photos, video, and text on a real time basis. Real time coverage is common in this day and age with most people uploading content from wireless devices. When I used a modern phone for a few months and paused at a live event to post something to Instagram or Facebook, I always felt like I was no longer in attendance and was diminishing the experience. As a flip phone user and someone who just returned from the road late last night, I will now reflect on the 4 day festival and related activities.
Intense fear as the police cruiser's headlights shined on me as I was smoking a joint of Hawaiian Haze in a near empty parking lot in Raleigh, N.C. He was driving straight toward me. I casually lowered my "cigarette" and looked the officer directly in the eyes and gave a confident nod. He nodded back and drove directly through a fragrant cloud of smoke I had blown out moments earlier. Security guards were swarming around the PRIMUS and Mastodon concert at the Red Hook amphitheater in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday May 20th so I decided to wait 'til after the show to fire this thing off. On the way in to the concert, a young security guard asked me to empty my pockets and accused me of having weed candies. There were a couple of crumbs of weed lurking around in the packaging because a joint was stashed in it earlier. They let me through without too much hassle, but I really should have been more mindful before going through the security gate. I had considered attending The Sea and Cake, who were performing at one of the Moogfest live music venues called Pinhook in Durham but decided that Chaka (my loyal service dog and best friend) would enjoy an outdoor show more than a small indoor event. Throughout my life, I have seen PRIMUS (and Les Claypool related projects) live more than any other artist (I lost count, but probably over 20 shows). PRIMUS is one of my favorite bands and witnessing their new album "The Desaturating Seven" (based on Ul De Riico's book THE RAINBOW GOBLINS) live is an incredible experience both aurally and visually.
I am happy to report that the track I fired off (just before leaving for Moogfest) to Shaun Robert at Institute for Alien Research for:
IFAR Musique Concrète 4'33" in 3 movements; 3 sections; in each piece;;; the silence is awaken;;; storms raise;;;; the wind blows;; where am i compilation
is now available online.
My piece utilized circuit bent Wiggles guitar (bent by Theta Landers- CReepINgthinGE), real world sounds, Theremin, micromoog, and turntables.
Four Thirty Three in 3 Movements, by Fiver's Stereo
The entire compilation of international sound experimentalists is highly versatile and very relaxing.Highly recommended for a cloudy afternoon and to unwind after an electronic music festival.
I am also happy to report that my friend John Lackey (DJ Wizard Wand / Elf Cum) and I (DJ Shatter Wax / Fiver's Stereo) followed through on our late night audio excursions and printed 100 CDs for our new project: Circuit Circuit. I attempted to have the CDs sold at the main Moogfest merchandise store. The manager was helpful and took on 15 CDs but was unable to display them due to contracts and red tape. John was part of an informal modular synth jam in the vault of 21c Museum Hotel and sold a few copies of our record to other participants. Lackey and I are both thrilled with this record and are making plans for our first live performance. We intend to print vinyl of this album or a new one and hope to perform at Moogfest 2019.
On Thursday May 17th, Jen Sandwich, my dog Chaka, and I parked at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, N.C. and walked directly to Ralph Steadman's exhibit which was sharing the room (Bay 7) with the Modular Marketplace, Moog Music store, and a bunch of vinyl vendors as part of Reverb LP. I have had the pleasure of seeing Steadman's work in person on a few different occasions during Art Basel Miami. We walked to the Carolina Theater and watched "For No Good Reason", a documentary on Ralph Steadman made by director Charlie Paul over a 15 year period. Johnny Depp does a great job talking with Ralph about his passion for civil liberties and human rights and reminiscing about Hunter S. Thompson's Gonzo journalism exploits and gun fights with William S. Burroughs.
Suzanne Ciani + Layn from Berklee College of Music presented a live score to the classic silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". Utilizing cello, flute, modular synthesizers, laptops, and other instruments, Ciani and her all female ensemble created an enthralling soundtrack to the film with a smooth blend of composition and improvisation. The sound system in the Armory this year was called A3 (an immersive 360-degree sound system with 24 independent sources). Author & Punisher utilized the A3 sound system melting everyones ear drums with his sludgy bio-mechanical industrial doom. Tristan Shone out of San Diego, CA is a mechanical engineer and artist who custom makes his own "dub machines" and "doom machines" from raw materials and open source electronic circuitry. It looked like he was playing a massive joystick and screaming through a fencing mask. We also caught Madame Gandhi at Motorco Music Hall and Jon Hopkins (DJ set) back at the armory.
Friday started off at the 21c Museum Hotel with a multi instrumental 4 hour durational performance by Wes Borland and a drummer (who was also playing a Moog). I've known Wes since the late 90s when Limp Bizkit was first gaining momentum out of Jacksonville, Florida and onto the international music scene. He has always been an experimentalist and a bit at odds with his success from Limp Bizkit so it was nice to hear him in his natural improvisational habitat. It was great to catch up with Wes, find out he lives in Chicago now and check out his 2016 double LP called "Crystal Machete".
An electro/acoustic metallic percussion and modular synth installation called Frivolous Artist by Wild Actions was clangy and loads of fun.
Later Friday evening after getting our heads knocked in by Suicideyear and Kyoka at Motorco Music Hall, we had to walk through a heavy downpour to the Carolina Theater to catch Mouse on Mars. Despite wearing my rain jacket, my shoes and socks and shorts got throughly soaked. I removed my socks and shoes and somehow thought the bass frequencies would dry them out. This Mouse on Mars set utilized extreme bass and although I was wearing ear plugs, I found myself wondering if I could take anymore of the low end assault.It was enjoyable yet I was thankful my dog Chaka was safe back in a hotel room.
On Saturday we attended a talk by Michael Stipe (lead singer of R.E.M.) discussing his forthcoming book of photography and his Moogfest 2018 video installation called Thibault Dance.
Hal McGee highly recommended we attend a performance by ONO from Chicago. It was a refreshing organic approach with a six piece live band. Lead vocalist Travis Travis Travis belted out "Where is your altruism now, where is your altruism now?" changing in and out of frilly costumes, whacking a trash can lid with a chain, and finally coming out into the audience to engage the attendees.
After ONO it was time for headliners Psychic TV who delivered a refreshing live avant pop rock 'n' roll performance. Yet another refreshing electro/acoustic performance featuring loads of found percussion was from a group called Georgia. I was super excited for master MC KRS-ONE (Kris Lawrence Parker) who broke it down and knocked everyones skulls in with some old school authentic hip hop and improvisational rhyme skills. Kris is master of the mic and has been a poetic master for 30 years. Afterwards Mouse on Mars teamed up with some Sonic Robots and put on a much more intimate and quiet set in true 3 Dimensional sound at the Armory.
Nicole Mitchell (flute, synthesizers, Theremin) put on a 4 hour durational concert on Sunday. It was an intensely intimate and personal experience. After the performance a woman asked Nicole if she owned all of the gear she was using. Apparently Moog Music loaned her much of the gear to experiment with a week before Moogfest. She exclaimed "That is how they get you. How am I going to give all this up now? I hope they give me a good discount". I can imagine after a romance with the new grandmother Moog, analog drum machines, and other Moog gear one would be inclined to invest in the modern Moog musical instruments.