The 20 degree drop in temperature paired with a constant drizzle of cold rain did little to dampen the spirits of the Moogfest audience on the first night of the festival. Despite the lengthy lines and inclement weather, fans still braved the outdoor shows in droves, many dressed in outrageous Halloween get ups. If Halloween on Franklin St. met Hopscotch in Asheville for an electronic music date, this is basically what you would get.
After meeting up with a friend, picking up our wristbands (which was surprisingly a relatively painless process), and grabbing some food, I headed over to the first show of the evening – Austra at the Orange Peel. This year Moogfest decided to scan wristbands at each show, a process that had some hiccups at this first show, causing us to hit some delays in gaining entry. Still managed to get in for a couple of songs though, and was impressed, as always, with the Orange Peel’s great acoustics. Luckily, getting to and from all the other shows that night was easy, and I found that I was able to show-hop more effectively than I was at Hopscotch a couple months ago.
Next up for me was a double feature at the Asheville Civic Center – The Antlers and Holy Fuck. Both bands have recently played in the Triangle area, and I had unfortunately missed them, but heard so many good things I knew I needed to check them out. The Civic Center was a former raver’s delight: giant screens flashed the Moog emblem, glow sticks were abundant, and people were dancing in pockets all across the giant auditorium. The Antlers gave a solid performance, though I was a little distracted by the kids breakdancing behind me and the chick in the Barbarella-inspired costume on six feet tall springy stilts, shooting bubbles from a gun. In between their set and Holy Fuck, I even had time to don some 3-D glasses and walk through a spinning tube of light that brought on an onset of vertigo that just about made me fall over.
Holy Fuck was…well, let’s just say their name does them justice. I was only able to stay for a couple songs, but watching Brian Borcherdt make amazing sounds by pulling long reels of 35mm film strip through a synchronizer a mere five feet in front of my face was immediately a high point of the festival. The only reason that show was cut short was so I would have time to walk the 10 minutes over to the Animoog Playground, the outdoor venue where I would see arguably the most entertaining show of the weekend – Chromeo. Straight from Montreal, the electrofunk duo kept the crowd pumped with Hall and Oates’ style lyrics and an 80s style stage complete with lit up mannequin legs.
Next up were the last two shows of the night – a double whammy of Moby and TV on the Radio. Moby remains somehow timeless, having apparently not aged since 1999. He played a lot of familiar hits, many from his mainstream breakthrough album, Play, and indeed, rocked the party with Bodyrock, momentarily turning the Civic Center into an epic rave. By the time TV on the Radio hit the stage well after midnight, the crowd had thinned and I was almost all danced out, but their lively performance was well worth the wait. When I finally I rolled out of downtown to grab a few hours of sleep, I was already eagerly awaiting Day Two, another dose of Asheville quirkiness, more costumes, and my chance to see the Flaming Lips for a second time in as many months.