Moogfest 2017: Our Top Five Favorite Acts

 

Our directors Justice Eiden and Ethan Brown covered Moogfest for WIUX last weekend. Below are their top five acts from the Durham-based music and tech festival:

 

Avalon Emerson 

I wish I could have stayed for her whole set. We arrived in Durham on Thursday after a 16-hour car ride from Chicago, so it’s safe to say I was not going to be staying up until 2 AM to catch the whole thing, but I wanted to. Avalon Emerson has been on fire lately, with a string of amazing releases on a wide variety of labels. Now based in Berlin, Avalon Emerson rose out of San Francisco’s fertile underground scene. Her discography is well worth digging into (even if you’re not necessarily a dance music person – it’s melodic and beautiful). Her set was an eclectic exercise in danceable, beautiful techno. (written by Ethan Brown)

808 State

In all honestly, I had no clue who in the hell 808 State was until researching the artists that would be attending this year’s Moogfest. After listening to State’s first commercially successful album, Ninety, which was released in 1989, I was immediately sold. State’s sound fit perfectly into the PA system at The Armory, one of the venues in Durham which hosted many of the major house, techno and experimental artists throughout the festival. The electronic trio played a live set, full of intense drum solos, fat synth hooks, and even a Saxophone solo from the trio’s ostensible frontman, Graham Massey. Despite a few technical difficulties throughout the show, the band displayed an expertise in technical performance that made me choose them as one of the top acts of Moogfest. (written by Justice Eiden)

Octo Octa

In 2013, Octo Octa released Between Two Selves, an album which contains a coded message about being a transgender woman. Everything from the album cover (a man longingly hugging a bronze statue of a woman), to track titles like “Fear” and “Who Will I Become” evidence this invisible message. Octo Octa has since come out as transgender. She did so with an honest and eye-opening interview with Resident Advisor in which she detailed her experiences as a closeted trans artist. Her newest work, Where Are We Going, which was released earlier this year, is a reflection on the new chapter in her life. Octo Octa has a rare ability to create a narrative experience within largely non-lyric dance music. The album includes elements of celebration, but it is also a piece of self-reflection. Anyways, you can tell I was geeked to see Octo Octa at Moogfest. Her set didn’t disappoint. She played a live set filled with original productions that were well-arranged into a format that brought the crowd to joyful celebration. Octo Octa’s career is just beginning and she is definitely one to watch out for. (written by Ethan Brown)

Flying Lotus

I had the pleasure of witnessing the live visual and sonic spectacle put on by Steven Ellison, better known as his stage name Flying Lotus, for the second time on Saturday night of Moogfest. FlyLo seamlessly flowed through various genres during his set, including hip hop, avant-garde electronic, techno, soul, amongst others with the dexterity of a virtuoso. The L.A.-based beat-maker was sandwiched between two screens, each with its own projected image, which created a visual three-dimensional effect which changed throughout the show. It was absolutely the most visually stunning atmosphere at any electronic music show that I’ve ever attended. FlyLo played plenty of tracks from both his older albums such as Los Angeles and his newest album, You’re Dead! He satisfied the electronic-music savvy crowd with a Aphex Twin track in the middle of his set. He capped his set off with variety of tracks that he has produced along with Kendrick Lamar, such as “Never Catch Me” off of You’re Dead! and “Wesley’s Theory” off of Kendrick’s third studio album To Pimp a Butterfly. (written by Justice Eiden)

K-Hand

Kelli Hand (otherwise known as K-Hand) has a massive resume of music behind her. She founded Acacia Records at the beginning of her career, and it has since become an outlet for her excellent brand of house and techno. She’s recently had releases on Trip Records, Nina Kraviz’s label. She’s seen support from Nina Kraviz, BPitch Control label boss Ellen Allien, and Mixmag’s DJ of the Year, The Black Madonna, among others. I am pretty picky with techno DJ sets. It’s all too common for some djs to play hours of banging techno that all blends together as one and gets boring. K-Hand was not that. Her set was a roller coaster of sounds that kept everyone on the dance floor. P.S. WIUX (as in me) got to sit down with K-Hand late Saturday night (technically Sunday morning) and learn more about her journey through dance music. Stay tuned 😉