Moogfest first took place 12 years ago in NYC—shortly before the inspiration behind the festival, American engineer (inventor of the Moog synthesizer) and pioneer of electronic music Robert Moog, passed away in 2005. After its inaugural years in NYC, Moogfest relocated to Asheville, from 2010-2014. Now it is the Triangle’s turn to host this one-of-a-kind festival, as Durham’s downtown will fill up with Moogfest events from May 19-22. This festival is a conscious, eclectic collaboration of artists, futurist thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, scientists, and musicians. The lineup comprises everything from modern pioneers in electronic music to pop and avant garde experimentalists to off-beat heavy rock/metal acts. ODESZA, Grimes, and Miike Snow top the bill, alongside a 3-night residency from Gary Numan and a 2-night residency from GZA.
This year, Moogfest will showcase an emphasis on LGBTQ issues—a timely topic in North Carolina right now, given the state’s recent passage of HB2, a harmful bill that attempts to eliminate anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals. Some of the festival’s most compelling daytime programs address issues important to LGBTQ community; additionally, there are many involved queer speakers and performers, including one of the keynote presenters, Dr. Martine Rothblatt, and hip-hop artist Mykki Blanco. The festival organizers released a statement following the passage of HB2 that asserted their determination to fight against homophobia and advocate for justice and equality for all people: “We will use the podium, the stage, and the dance floor to manifest a world of inclusivity and compassion. We will surface these ideas because they are essential ingredients for creativity, innovation and discovery. We are standing our ground in North Carolina.” Along with this statement, Moogfest furthermore encouraged the public to support the work of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and to sign the Equality NC’s petition against HB2. Moogfest has been a staple of experimental music celebration for more than a decade, but this year the festival also stands for social justice and involvement in a more explicit way than ever before.
As the Moogfest’s official website explains, the festival celebrates “[the exchange between engineer and musician] with a unique festival format where the creative process is understood as a collaboration among many people, across time and space, in commerce and culture.” It was only in 2014 that the festival was enhanced to include not only musical performances but also seminars, workshops, and art installations. During the daytime hours, there are several all-ages programs, but the evening venues are 18+ to enter and 21+ to drink. Standard 4-day and 1-day passes are still available on the official website, here—although the VIP and Engineer VIP passes are now sold out.
See the full 2016 Moogfest lineup below.