Moogfest And Durham: Match Made In Heaven? We’re About To Find Out

In the meantime, we're going to not understand a lot of stuff and feel really old

The partnership between Moogfest and Durham, N.C., officially began today at noon with the launch of the three-day festival. At this very moment, North Carolina’s fourth most populous downtown is being overrun by some of the smartest, hippest, most talented people on earth. Soon, I’ll be there too, but I promise to stand in the corner and not ruin things for everyone else.

Moogfest and Durham need each other. This is the troubled festival’s third attempt to find a permanent home after failed relationships with New York and Asheville, N.C., while Durham is trying to finally escape the shadow of nearby Raleigh and Chapel Hill as well as its long-established reputation for crime and economic stagnation with something it can call its own. Only time will tell if the marriage will work, but there are reasons for optimism.

As a longtime resident of the Asheville area and two-time Moogfest attendee there, I admit to being skeptical when I first heard about the move. Moogest drew huge crowds in Asheville, which remains coolest place for a thousand miles. Durham was … Durham. Awesome baseball stadium. Everything else, blech. However, Moogfest wasn’t the only thing that moved east – I did too – and I was wrong about Durham, which, like so many cities in the South, is no longer the boarded-up hellhole it once was.

In the last five years, Durham has quietly passed Winston-Salem with 257,000 residents, which is far more than Asheville’s 88,000, and its 12.4 percent growth rate over that time surpasses Raleigh and Charlotte, which is no mean feat. Even better, Durham is forging its own path by combining the best of Asheville with the best of the Research Triangle.

Asheville is smart and progressive, but it has little of the Research Triangle’s young, educated population or booming economy built on local businesses, many of which are tech startups. Durham’s residents will be hard-pressed to match Asheville’s support for the music at Moogfest, but with three times the metro area population and possibly 10 times to corporate sponsorships it probably won’t matter.

“The Research Triangle is completely in line with our mission,” Moogfest’s Josh Segal told us during a podcast earlier in the week. “It’s a hub for research and innovation, and we hope to be something like a cultural touchstone in line with that, something that can show what Durham and the Triangle is becoming.”

Moogfest has worked to bill itself as more than a music festival, and in fact there are a far greater number activities that don’t involve live music, which is saying something when you boast more than a hundred musical acts. As part of the move, Moogfest has transformed itself with a slew of daytime programs, conference-style conversations, panels and workshops, with names like “Afrofuturism,” “Art and Artificial Intelligence,” “Technoshamanism,” and “Transhumanism.” I wish I could tell you what the hell any of that means, but I can’t. I do know, however, a living cyborg will be there, along with a highly anticipated “sleep concert” that is sold out, and someone with both a wife and a robot-version of said wife that is considered one of the most advanced artificially intelligent robots in the world, presumably because of the lack of nagging.

Tickets are expensive, and with music that for the most part is obscure and for a very niche audience Moogfest doesn’t exactly sell itself as the county fair. I think I’d feel more comfortable at the county fair, but, sadly, Grimes won’t be at the county fair, so instead Blooperman, armed with Periscope, Twitter and an open mind, is off to Durham. Below is our tentative schedule. See you on the other side.

Thursday, May 19

6:30pm-8:00pm @ The Armory
Moogfest 2016 VIP Opening Party Presented by The Durham Tech Consortium
8:30pm-9:30pm @ Motorco Park
Floating Points
10:00pm-11:00pm @ Motorco Park
Blood Orange
11:00pm-2:00am @ Dashi
VIP Last Call at Dashi
11:30pm-12:45am @ Motorco Park
Miike Snow
11:45pm-1:00am @ Carolina Theatre, Fletcher Hall
Daniel Lanois

Friday, May 20

1:00pm-2:00pm @ Carolina Theatre, Cinema 1
Song Exploder Live Podcast Recording with ODESZA
2:00pm-3:30pm @ Carolina Theatre, Fletcher Hall
Keynote: The Future of Creativity
4:00pm-6:00pm @ Alley Twenty Six
VIP Toast at Alley Twenty Six
4:30pm-6:00pm @ Carolina Theatre, Fletcher Hall
Time Traveling with Hop Hop
5:00pm-6:00pm @ The Pit
VIP Toast at The Pit
8:50pm-9:50pm @ Motorco Park
10:15pm-11:35pm @ Motorco Park

Saturday, May 21

12:00pm-4:00pm @ Moogfest Record Fair
Moogfest Record Fair w/ All Day Records and Merge
2:00pm-3:30pm @ Carolina Theatre, Fletcher Hall
Keynote: The Future of Creativity
3:00pm-5:00pm @ The Durham Hotel
VIP Toast at The Durham Hotel Rooftop
4:00pm-5:00pm @ Durham Arts Council PSI Theatre
Mac McCaughan
5:00pm-6:00pm @ The Pit
VIP Toast at The Pit
7:30pm-8:30pm @ Carolina Theatre, Fletcher Hall
Gary Numan
8:15pm-9:00pm @ Motorco Music Hall
Demo Taped
9:00pm-10:00pm @ The Armory
9:15pm-10:15pm @ Motorco Music Hall
Son Lux
10:15pm-11:15pm @ Motorco Music Hall

Sunday, May 22

1:00am-2:00am @ Carolina Theatre, Fletcher Hall
Explosions in the Sky
3:30pm-4:00pm @ Full Frame Theater
Sunhouse & Ian Chang of Son Lux