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MGMT is playing MoogFest on Friday night.
Over Halloween weekend, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, partiers, ravers and electronic music freaks will all descend on the mountain hamlet town of Asheville, North Carolina, for the first-ever MoogFest, celebrating the art and innovation of Robert Moog, who made Asheville his home in 1978.
The festival promoter, AC Entertainment, who has helped put on the Bonnaroo festival for nine years straight in Manchester, Tennessee, says they have looked to Bob Moog as a visionary for many years and the event will pay homage to Moog’s legacy while pushing forward the type of innovative music that he helped inspire.
The festival will take place from Friday through Sunday, October 31, at multiple venues in downtown Asheville, including the Orange Peel, the Asheville Civic Center and the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Each venue is downtown and walkable, a template that the promoter took to heart while producing the Big Ears festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
While Moog Music has been involved at arms length with a festival each year in New York that bears its name, the original challenge for AC Entertainment was in finding the right city for a larger-scale MoogFest. While most cities would balk at a downtown taken over by costumed festival-goers, Jeff Cuellar, AC Entertainment’s Director of Marketing and Business Development, says Asheville is “just quirky enough, and they have been supporting the arts and culture since [the city’s] existence.”
The party-heavy lineup for MoogFest also points to the growing popularity of electronic music in the U.S., which seems to finally be catching up with Europe, where big electronic and dance festivals – such as Mayday, Love Parade and NatureOne in Germany; Electric Picnic in Ireland – have been the norm for years.
“It’s a scene that’s really picking up popularity,” says Cuellar. “Electronic dance music kind of allows you to take a break from reality for a moment. Singer-songwriter stuff can get kind of melancholy and even sad at times. Dance is ‘let your hair down,’ have a good time, sweat it out and take a break.”
The inaugural festival has done well at the box office so far, with both General Admission and VIP weekend passes sold out in advance of the start date. Artists likewise have jumped at the opportunity to play the inaugural festival. What started as a one-day concept soon morphed into three days worth of music, with headliners like MGMT, Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation and Hot Chip.
“A lot of [the artists] asked, ‘What else can we do?’ ” says Cuellar. “They get a chance to experiment and try different things. They don’t feel like they have to keep to their standard show.”
The promoter, known for their beguiling sense of whimsy at events like Bonnaroo, will create design continuity and a sense of escape for MoogFest too.
“There’s going to be elements all throughout downtown that tie to the various venues that we’re using,” says Cuellar. “It’s going to be a treat. One of my favorite things is I want people to walk around and just feel like they’re some place else. I think Asheville alone provides this sense of alternate reality. I really feel like people are going to come there and are going to say, ‘Where am I?’ ”