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.
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.’”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Devojka and Dan Boeckner of Operators perform at DC9 on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
“The US Department of Homeland Security, the DC Department of Public Works, and you have all cooperated to make tonight happen,” commented Dan Boeckner from the stage of DC9.
Dan was referring to two thwarted attempted by his band Operators to perform at DC9 in the past two years –- visa issues stymied the band’s visit from Canada once and a watermain break closed DC9 on another occasion.
But if Dan were worried about a third strike against Operators at DC9, he need not have. The new wave quartet hit a smash home run in a sold-out show on Tuesday night as they delighted and entranced their crowd, which was eating out of their hands. Operators performed a stellar live show in part because they have boatloads of talent and charisma. Everyone in the room pressed as far forward to the stage in earnest anticipation as to what would come next from the synthpop band.
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.
Gwenno (Photo courtesy 5ive Roses Press)
Moogfest 2016: Three Acts Not to Miss
Moogfest 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting affair, and I say this after a very successful last edition of the synthesizer-inspired music festival, which I attended in 2014.
This time around, a few of the artists are the same but many of them are quite different. Take for example synthpop icon Gary Numan, who will conduct a three-night residency at Moogfest 2016 in Durham, NC, presumably May 19, 20, and 21. Gary will perform three of his classic albums -– Replicas, The Pleasure Principle, and Telekon -– over three nights.