The first day of the first Durham edition of Moogfest...this is a way easier commute than the Asheville edition! Despite it being the type of festival where you bounce around from venue to venue, tonight was going to be very easy for me - I was starting at Motorco and not leaving until it was time to walk to the car. Not only that, this was my most anticipated line-up of the whole event.
First up for me was Silver Apples, aka Simeon. When a band is just one man do you refer to it as a he or a they? Regardless, I saw him nearly twenty years ago (with a drummer that time) opening for Polvo at the Cat's Cradle, and he was already an old dude then...I mention this not to mock him, but purely out of adoration. The man turns 78 this year and is just as lively, vibrant, and impressive as anyone else at Moogfest, of any age. This man is nearly as old as my grandma, and here he is on stage tweaking the shit out of his homemade synth (called the Simeon, for the record), making music that formed the backbone of what krautrock and electronic music would come to be. In my opinion, there aren't many artists as important as Silver Apples in this realm - this band should be the Wikipedia entry when you look up the phrase "ahead of their time." Oh, did I mention his performance was un-fucking-believably good? The kind of good where it might end up being my favorite show of the entire year, or at a minimum top three. He played songs across his entire catalog as well as a few new ones, ending with an epic version of his classic "Oscillations." As much gushing as I have done here, it still doesn't encapsulate how happy this show made me.
Often, my excitement for bands that follow an epic performance are unfairly lowered, like a come down after some particularly potent drugs or a damn good milkshake. It's not the band's fault, just human nature...or at least my personal human nature. Coming into the festival, Zombi was probably the group I was most excited about - and the thing is, they were totally rad. A duo from Pittsburgh, their recordings might have you believe they're just a laptop performance (a pretty common sight at Moogfest) - but it was a real, live band up on that stage. One cat played bass and had a whole shitload of synths, sometimes played separately and occasionally at the same time; the other dude handled the drums, and also seemed to have some sort of synth action, electronic drums, and/or triggers he was working with. They sounded good, and I enjoyed myself, but I'm pretty sure I would have liked it a lot more if it hadn't immediately followed something so mind-blowing. I'd be stoked to go see Zombi again though.
The final act I would see this evening was Gary Numan. He was holding a three day residency, performing a different album each night - tonight it was his solo debut, "Replicas." Much to my dismay none of the nights were focusing on the Tubeway Army record...not that I thought they would, but a man has to have dreams. I had already been standing in the same spot for three hours, sweaty and uncomfortable, and Numan had the temerity to take the stage at least forty minutes late. When he did finally show up, at least he and the rest of the band sounded great. I probably don't need to tell you anything about the set list - feel free to look up the track listing to "Replicas" if you're curious. A long delay like this one would have been much easier to accept if it happened at one of his next two shows, which are at the seated venue Carolina Theater. Good god, I'm getting old. I only made it through about two-thirds of his set before my legs finally waved the white flag, and it was time to go. Luckily, there would be more opportunities to see Numan the next two days...