Music Park: Moogfest 2016 Pt. 3 of 3 (Durham, NC) — 5/21/16

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It’s Gary Numan’s Day on the third day of Moogfest 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Saturday, May 21, could have been Gary Numan Day in Durham, NC, as the Moogfest headliner had quite a day there. First, he received the 2016 Moog Innovation Award in an afternoon ceremony, and then he performed the third of three concerts a few hours later at Fletcher Hall in the Carolina Theatre.

Sadly, I couldn’t make Gary’s award ceremony as the 2pm time conflicted with a Moogfest show by Gwenno, who was high on my “to see” list for the synthesizer festival.

Toward the end of her show, Welsh songstress Gwenno apologized for the sad lyrics of songs on her debut solo album, Y Dydd Olaf, which after all was inspired by a Welsch dystopian science fiction novel of the same name from 1976. (The title translates as “the last day.”)

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Music Park: Gary Numan (Telekon) @ Moogfest 2016 — 5/21/16

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Gary Numan performs during Moogfest 2016 at the Carolina Theatre on Saturday, May 21, 2016.

When Kraftwerk performed as headliner in three shows for Moogfest 2014, the synthesizer pioneers essentially played the same (very good) show three times.

Gary Numan, being something of an overachiever, performed three different shows over three different nights as the headliner for Moogfest 2016. On the last day of Moogfest, Gary had quite a day — first receiving the 2016 Moog Innovation Award in a ceremony on Saturday, May 21, and then performing the third of his three concerts a few hours later at Fletcher Hall in the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC.

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Music Park: Gwenno @ Moogfest 2016 — 5/21/16

Gwenno 15 Gwenno performs during Moogfest in Durham, NC, on May 21, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Toward the end of her show, Welsh songstress Gwenno apologized for the sad lyrics of songs on her debut solo album, Y Dydd Olaf, which after all was inspired by a Welsch dystopian science fiction novel of the same name from 1976. (The title translates as “the last day.”)

“This song is called Calon Peiriant, which means the heart of the machine,” said Gwenno during a performance at the First Presbyterian Church in Durham, NC, on Saturday, May 21. “But you can pretend it’s about something much happier since it’s written in Welsh and you may not know the lyrics in a foreign language anyway. So this song is called ‘Heart of the Machine,’ or if you prefer, ‘I Love Red Wine.’”

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Music Park: Moogfest 2016 Pt. 2 (of 3) (Durham, NC) — 5/20/16

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Art pop diva Grimes sings at Moogfest 2016 in Durham, NC, on Friday, May 20, 2016.

The sun was shining in Durham, NC, last weekend, and Moogfest 2016 was well underway! There were shows to review at this, the premiere music festival dedicated to the synthesizer, and I hopped straight to reviewing them.

I spent a lot of my time at Moogfest around what I guess would be the north end of the central downtown area in Durham, as Motorco Music Hall and its adjoining Motorco Park hosted a lot of the most interesting shows on the agenda. And it was well situated near other bars and the best downtown barbecue restaurant, The Pit.

While at Motorco Park on Friday, May 20, for the second day of Moogfest, I was introduced to Los Angeles noise rock trio HEALTH.

“Wow,” I said when I saw them. “That guy is playing his synthesizer ON THE GROUND.”

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Music Park: Gary Numan (The Pleasure Principle) @ Moogfest 2016 — 5/20/16

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Gary Numan sings at the Carolina Theatre during Moogfest 2016 on May 20. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Whereas on the first night of his Moogfest residency Gary Numan played a lot of guitar, on the second night, he played a lot of synthesizer. With as much passion as ever, Gary threw himself across a Virus TI imbuing warmth into crystalline synthpop.

Hewing mostly to the tracklist order, Gary continued his Moogfest residency with a night dedicated to his album The Pleasure Principle at Fletcher Hall in the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC, on Friday, May 20. The Pleasure Principle, the second of three albums in Gary’s “Machine Trilogy,” is easily the most universally recognized of his early records in part because of the still-ubiquitous hit single “Cars,” which he performed with as much fervor as ever at the midpoint of his set.

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Music Park: HEALTH @ Moogfest 2016 — 5/20/16

Health 12 HEALTH perform at Motorco Park for Moogfest 2016 on May 20, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

“Wow,” I said. “That guy is playing his synthesizer ON THE GROUND.”

And indeed John Famiglietti of HEALTH switched up from bass to synth, swinging the bass around to his back to swoop down on the synthesizer rig in front of him, laid flat on a plastic crate. As a man fond of big cinematic flourishes, he may have been the star player in this specific show by his band HEALTH, performing at the Motorco Park in Durham, NC, on Friday, May 20.

That’s not to say that John could do this show single-handedly! He was capably met, and balanced, by frontman Jake Duzsik, who sang in a manner occasionally evocative of New Order’s Barney Sumner and also played some dazzling guitar. Side by side, Jake and John present quite the team, effortlessly merging dynamic rock with sweeping electronics. (Drummer Benjamin Jared Miller was good as well!)

And so it was that Los Angeles noise rock trio HEALTH brought flair to Moogfest 2016.

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Snapshots: Grimes @ Moogfest 2016 — 5/20/16

Grimes 11 Grimes charms at Moogfest 2016 at Motorco Park on Friday, May 20, 2016.

Having released her fifth album, Art Angels, late last year, Grimes has officially hit the mainstream. She sold out the 9:30 Club in DC about 10 days ago, hit the Sweetlife Festival locally, and proved a big sensation on the second day of Moogfest 2016.

For Moogfest, Grimes performed at Motorco Park in Durham, NC, on Friday, May 20, 2016, and the place went insane. People clamored for a better view of the awkward, shy singer, who has become more and more musically accessible throughout her career.

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Music Park: Moogfest 2016 Pt. 1 (of 3) (Durham, NC) — 5/19/16

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Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange performs at Motorco Park in Durham, NC, on Thursday, May 19.

As I disembarked a shuttle to downtown Durham outside The Carolina Theatre, the sounds of a protest against North Carolina’s House Bill 2 greeted me last Thursday. A group on the corner shouted out against a new law they saw as discriminatory against sexual identity.

As I peered up and down the street, a growing yet small southern city unfolded before me. I wasn’t in DC any longer.

Moogfest, the premier music festival dedicated to the synthesizer, moved across North Carolina to a new home in Durham this year for four days of performances, classes, talks, and exhibits over May 19-22, 2016, and it drew me there largely to cover many of its concert performances. But it’s impossible to ignore the time and place of such a festival, particularly when the Moogfest organizers themselves protested the passage of HB 2 and particularly when the attendees for the “festival of the future” are as diverse as those descending upon Durham.

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Music Park: Gary Numan (Replicas) @ Moogfest 2016 — 5/19/16

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Gary Numan sings at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC, on Thursday, May 19, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Like a colossus astride from stage to stage, Gary Numan, indeed a giant in electronic music for many, walked out onto that stage at Motorco Music Hall on the first night of Moogfest 2016.

Visiting Durham, NC, for three nights of Moogfest, the first of Gary’s shows for the festival focused on his album Replicas, most famous for the UK #1 hit “Are Friends Electric?” — a song that awoke the world to the potential of a new generation of synthesizers in pop music.

Interestingly, Gary stuck largely to the guitar on this first night on Thursday while others in his band very capably provided the synths (this was Moogfest, after all). But Gary came to the stage more than ready to play, and he absolutely burnt the hall down in a fiery rock ‘n’ roll rendition of Replicas that would have convinced you he was the biggest, best, and brightest rock star on the planet.

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Don’t Miss: Moogfest 2016, 5/19-5/22/16 (Part 3)

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Grimes (Photo courtesy Purple PR)

Moogfest 2016: Grimes and Miike Snow Join the Festival

The organizers of Moogfest 2016, set for May 19-22 across 17 venues in downtown Durham, NC, announced major additions to the electronic music festival’s lineup yesterday.

Art pop musician Grimes and neo-psychedelic trio Miike Snow join the lineup of “more than 250 of the world’s most forward-thinking musicians, artists, and technologists — from GZA, Gary Numan, and Blood Orange to virtual-reality pioneer Jaron Lanier, transhumanist visionary Dr. Martine Rothblatt, and cyborg activist Neil Harbisson — for Moogfest 2016,” said Moogfest in a press release.

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