You can tell that Moogfest has arrived in Asheville by all the young people walking around downtown dressed in black with their heads tilted down reading their phones. It’s the dressed in black part that’s different from every day in downtown Asheville! Just kidding. The occasional strange looking head gear (see the video below) may give it away too! Moogfest describes itself as The Synthesis of Technology, Art & Music. For 5 days, at locations scattered around the city lectures, workshops, interviews and visual/musical installations and performances are taking place with some of it free to the public. A look at the schedule is astounding in terms of the breadth and range of the experiences being offered. Experimental music, art and technology is a perfect match for Asheville.
It all started with Bob Moog, the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer and founder of Moog Music. A pioneer in electronic music, Moog spent the early 1990s as a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina here in Asheville and died here in 2005. The Bob Moog Foundation is based here as is the Moog Store and Factory. Moog Music brought Moogfest to Asheville in 2008 as a 3 day multi-stage electronic music festival featuring contemporary bands that exemplified the innovative spirit of Moog. This year the festival has exploded to become so much more!
Just one example of the dynamic new focus of the festival is an installation that allows you to compose music through the electrical activity of your brain using the head gear referred to earlier. Participants are invited to wander around the city creating an audio-visual experience in response to the environment. Very cool.
There’s an area with Theramins that you can experiment with, new media art installations and a “Modular Marketplace” that are all open to the public, as well as many of the concerts. I checked out a “Durational Performance” at the Center for Creative Design that was a continuous multimedia electronic music experience, one of several taking place over the 5 days.
The panels, films and work shops include conversations with music pioneers, philosophers, technology leaders and more. Economic development and just plain networking is going on along with the cool music and art. It’s definitely an event!