Monday, June 6, 2016

Moogfest Day 3: Mac McCaughan / The Body / Quintron and Miss Pussycat / Sunn O)) in Downtown Durham - 5/21/2016

Moogfest - Day 3
Featuring Mac McCaughan, The Body, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, and Sunn O))
Downtown Durham
5/21/2016

On the plus side, today's shows started early; the negative is there was no way in hell we were lasting until the end of the night.  We made our way to a small spot right next to the Carolina Theatre called the Durham Arts Council PSI Theatre just before 4 PM to see Mac McCaughan.  I've seen him somewhere in the range of five million times between all of his projects (Superchunk, Portastatic, solo, etc), but this was the first time I would witness a performance of this fashion - Mac tweaking a bank of synths and keyboards, a dude with a clipboard standing behind him in a judgemental manner, and some modern dancers doing their modern dance thing.  The music was all instrumental and started a little slow, but I was feeling it for the bulk of the set.  Like any other time I've ever seen anything of this nature, I didn't have a goddamn clue what was going on, but I suppose it was interesting enough to watch for a little while.  I'm still unclear if the clipboard guy was a part of the performance, or actually doing something. 

We walked over to the Pinhook from there, the first time the festival had led me to my favorite Durham venue.  Metal duo the Body were next up, a band I have wanted to see live for a little while but, you know, laziness.  I'd be lying if I said I was super familiar with their work, but I'd only heard good things about them from my "metal friends."  A quick scan of the crowd confirmed they were definitely the act to see this weekend if you had a neck tattoo - my bare throat firmly placed me in the minority, or so it felt.  It wasn't the most dynamic live performance I've seen, and I couldn't much tell one song from the next, but I still liked it.  I was expecting a more metal sound, but they were more sludgy and heavy, not that unlike Big Business to be honest.  They actually use guitar versus Jared's bass in Big Business, but it was an extremely low tuned guitar, perhaps even baritone.  I also found it interesting that the drummer didn't use a real bass drum, but rather a pedal that seemed to trigger a distorted, electronic bass drum; which seemed to have some complications, and might have led to them playing such a short set (probably in the range of 20 minutes).      

Next up at the Pinhook was Quintron and Miss Pussycat, yet another band I've meant to see forever but have always put off...I was really able to knock some things off my "to do list" this night!  There was a pack of really annoying Quintron superfans surrounding me, but after seeing the duo's performance it was easy to see how someone could end up like that - they were goddamn amazing, easily one of my favorite performances of the fest.  The show started with a ten minute puppet show, and really well done one at that - I'm no puppet aficionado and/or expert, but the puppets seemed be very well made and the short skit was quite entertaining.  After that was the music - I'm not sure a genre exists in which one could properly file Quintron...so I'm giving them their own genre called "swamp boogie."  Lots of organ and synths, a smattering of drums and cymbals, and a slide guitar, all of which Quintron plays at the same time like a demented one man band.  Some of the music was pre-recorded, but he was definitely doing the bulk of the work.  Miss Pussycat offered some flavor in the form of vocals and percussion (aka them gourd-like shaker things that probably have an actual name that I don't know), but Quintron is mostly running the show.  Although I didn't really know any of the songs, I was way into it from start to finish, and you can be sure I'll be purchasing some of his recordings in the very near future. 

After stuffing ourselves with amazing pizza from Pompieri and a little record shopping at Carolina Soul, we ended our night at the large stage next to Motorco.  Turns out they were holding a smoke machine demonstration...also, I think Sunn O))) was performing somewhere behind all that smoke and you could even occasionally see them.  On the one hand, I sorta get the concept of enjoying the music and not worrying about actually watching the band...on the other hand, if watching them wasn't important why are they all dressed in their fancy demonic monk robes?  Much like when I saw them at Hopscotch a couple of years ago, I'm not entirely sure what to say about the live Sunn O))) experience.  They weren't as loud as last time, I'm guessing largely due to being outdoors.  It was just as smoky as last time, but the machines had to work extra hard - there were probably three on each side of the stage, plus some blowing behind the band.  The audience was about half-ecstatic and half-bewildered at what they were seeing, which I suspect is the norm for their performances (at least at festivals where you get a lot randoms just there to see what the fuss is about).  I still don't understand what they are doing or why they are doing it, but I like it nonetheless...which further confuses me because I'm not even sure why I like it.  Even with earplugs and even with it outdoors, it was still goddamn loud - the vibrations are what you feel the most.  That was as good a note to end Moogfest on as any...not sure Sunn O))) is really followable, whether you liked them or not.

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