Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mountain Oasis Itinerary

Mountain Oasis takes place in Asheville, NC
on Oct. 25-27
Festivals have been creeping up on me this year, it feels like just yesterday I was recovering from the weekend marathon of Hopscotch and now here we are two days before the beginning of the inaugural Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit in Asheville. I'm not sure what I'm more excited for at this point, the three day music binge or a weekend in Asheville--okay, that's a lie it's definitely the music. But, the fact that this is all taking place in one of North Carolina's most beautiful cities certainly doesn't hurt the festival's appeal. Nor does the fact that I'll be getting to see a few of my favorite artists of all time in the same weekend. The split between iconic acts and swiftly rising upstarts is usually one that's hard to pull off for a festival, but Mountain Oasis has certainly hit the sweet spot. Most of the lineup is filled with the hottest buzz bands of the past year, acts like Jessie Ware, Disclosure and Purity Ring (ohmygod talk about a mind blowing last minute addition) stand alongside acts like Animal Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel and Bassnectar to give fans a wide array of musical stylings to choose from at any given point of the weekend. Without any further ado I'll get down to the meat and potatoes of the festival and provide a day-by-day rundown of exactly what I hope to check out at this year's festival.

I'll be rolling into Asheville an hour or so before the festival gets started, so there's not much time to soak in all that Asheville has to offer until Saturday. But, it's hard to be upset at that fact when things kick off with such an awesome artist. I'll start my evening at Jacques Green at The Orange Peel. Before I checked out the festival's lineup I wasn't too familiar with Green other than his "Lotus Flower" remix for the greatest band of all time (so I may be a bit of a Radiohead fanboy), but after checking out more of his entrancing sounds I've got to say that his R&B influenced house tunes will be enough to get the energy flowing before Purity Ring. I'll leave Green's set early to get a prime spot for Purity Ring's set at Arena which is one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend. They weren't added until last Friday, but I was floored when I saw their addition to the lineup. They've got a dazzling light set-up that perfectly coincides with their pulsing electronic sounds. Late last year I found it hard to listen to anything other than Purity Ring's incredible debut album Shrines, so getting to see this live is something I've been waiting quite some time for. After Purity Ring closes up I'll head next door to check out Daniel Johnston...kind of just for the sake of saying I've seen Daniel Johnston. He's a brilliant songwriter to say the least, but staying too long would probably throw off the night's flow a bit, so I'll bounce back over for Deltron 3030's set after soaking in some of Johnston's anti-folk musings. Deltron's set is sure to be a wild time, especially since they're one of the few hip-hop artists on the lineup and boy do I love me some hip-hop. While I'd love to stay for the whole thing I'll definitely head out early to ensure my position at one of the main reasons I'm trekking to Asheville this weekend.

Neutral Milk Hotel may seem like the elephant in the room at this festival, but that elephant produced some of the most meaningful and magical music that I've come across in my lifetime. To say I'm excited for this set is a massive understatement. I've got Jeff Mangum's lyrics tattoo'd across my arm, this is a moment I thought I could very likely never experience in my entire life. I'm positively giddy to experience this in one of the most gorgeous venues I've stepped foot in. Thomas Wolfe housed Sufjan Stevens last time I attended a show there, so Neutral Milk Hotel will surely fill the grandiose auditorium with shouts of whimsy and wonder. If I get the chance to check out some of Bassnectar I surely will, he puts on an incredible live show that I've had the chance to see twice, but nothing will pull me away from Neutral Milk Hotel short of a natural disaster. After Bassnectar has ended I'll head over to check out XXYYXX to close out my night with some skittering, soulful dance music from one of the youngest yet most promising acts on the lineup. Though he's barely 17, XXYYXX has already crafted an addictive sound that's filled with potential to blossom and evolve into something truly transcendental.

Saturday will mark the first full day of festivities for me in Asheville this weekend. Thankfully there's plenty to do throughout the day that will allow festivalgoers like myself to fully absorb all of Asheville's awesome scenery. The Inventors Roundtable Panel is something that instantly piqued my interests, it's an event that brings in four visionaries within the electronic music world to discuss their effect on the genre. The creator of the Moog guitar and the Pyradym, a tool that aids in sound and color therapy, are two of the standouts from this particular panel. However, the rest of the afternoon will surely be spent freaking out over the fact that I'm surrounded by gorgeous mountains.

Thinks will kick off with Bosnian Rainbows at ExploreAsheville, and while I've not gotten terribly deep into Bosnian Rainbows I must say that I'm excited to experience their live set. In highschool I was quite the Mars Volta fan, so Bosnian Rainbows holds a special place in my heart given the fact that their guitarist is Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Plus, their expansive psych-pop will be an excellent way to transition into the lush aural adventure that is Zola Jesus' set. Zola Jesus is another act I'm not too familiar with aside from a handful of tracks, but the thing I do know is that Nika Danilova has one of the most striking and poignant voices I've heard in a long time. This special set with JG Thirwell will showcase the beauty of these songs, especially since they're takes on her most recent release Versions, performed entirely with a string quartet. From Zola I feel it's necessary to check out Gary Numan, he's had an overreaching influence on much of the music that I'm interested in, but once more I've not had too much experience with him. He's got a tightly wound style of production that blends industrial and hip-hop with a veil of dark electronic pop to make for a timeless twist of various genres.

I'll leave Numan's set early though so that I can take in as much of Robert DeLong's set as physically possible. DeLong is a captivating artist whose live show is unparalleled in today's scene. He's got an engaging demeanor that beckons the listeners to lose themselves to the tribal aspects of dance music. Maybe I've just got a bit of fanboyism shining through, but I'd wager that DeLong is going to be one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. Thankfully there's not another high energy act following DeLong or I'd probably collapse into a dance-induced puddle. Instead I'll take in the grandiose sounds of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. While Godspeed's music contains a bit of ineffable intensity, it'll be nice to soak in some post rock in between all of this exhausting and high energy dance music. From there I'll move onto my second most anticipated set of the weekend with Animal Collective. This band is one that I've had on my list to see for years and years at this point and I unfortunately missed them at this year's Bonnaroo after selling my ticket. Thankfully they shall elude me no longer, as Saturday night at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium I'll finally get to experience this larger than life psych-pop brilliance in person. I saw Panda Bear and Deakin at the first Hopscotch, but that's incomparable at this point. Animal Collective have countless anthemic tracks to lose yourself in and that's exactly what I plan on doing. They're one of the acts responsible for my high school foray into experimental music, so seeing them in Asheville is something that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. I'll follow Animal Collective with a brief glimpse of the Nine Inch Nails set before heading to Cashmere Cat to close the night. I saw NIN on their Lights in the Sky tour before their hiatus, but otherwise I'd probably be checking out their incredibly hyped up live set this weekend. After what's sure to be a turnt up dance party at Cashmere I'll actually be able to collapse into a dance-induced puddle and prepare myself for the last day of the festival.

Sunday will serve as an incredible closing night for a festival that's filled with high intensity acts of countless varieties. Thankfully night three is just as jam-packed as the rest of the weekend, even if there aren't as many big name acts filling the lineup. I'll start the evening with Adventure Club, although after two nights full of dancing I don't know how energetic I'll be for their throw-down worthy dance music. To those of you that still have gas in your tank on Sunday, more power to you. I wish I could be you, but instead I'll be bringing my own blend of subdued shaking and flailing to ExploreAsheville early Sunday evening. I'll surely check out some of the sultry R&B stylings of Autre Ne Veut, but seeing Jessie Ware's take on the sound is a bit higher up on my priority list. Ware has gotten a metric ton of promotion throughout the pat year and I've purposefully stayed away from much of her music so that I can experience it for the first time in a live setting. All I know is that I'm ridiculously excited for her set. Thankfully I'll get to stay for all of her set before I head to see Pantyraid. While I'm not too into this set right now, it will serve as an excellent way to make sure that I've got prime positioning for Disclosure's set following Pantyraid.

Disclosure is another band that's been receiving bukus of hype throughout the past year, and rightfully so. They produce a tantalizing take on house music in it's rawest form, there's thunderous rhythms and absurdly catchy refrains that make their songs into powerful listening experiences. From Disclosure I'll make it to the remainder of Mount Kimbie's set, then meander over to check out Cut Copy. I'd like to say that I'll subsequently dance my ass off to Cut Copy, but I'm a realist so that probably won't happen. I'll likely stay around for a few songs where I nod my head if I know the tune, then head next door to see Pretty Lights. While I admittedly don't really enjoy Pretty Lights, I know his live show is nothing short of a spectacle, so it's definitely on my must see list. By this point I'll probably be running on fumes, so after I've taken in as much psych-infused bass thumps as possible at Pretty Lights I'll begin to make the long trek back to Raleigh.

Ultimately, there's enough going on at Mountain Oasis that I may not even follow this to a tee. The best part of attending festival's like this is following the crowds and seeing what acts you've overlooked. Not to say that you shouldn't follow your own rigid schedule, but live a little! It's nice to take in music that you may not have heard otherwise, for all you know you may walk away a fan. I've already got my bags packed tightly and there's a little over 36 hours left until I depart for Asheville, so for the next day I'll be resting up in preparation for a weekend filled with great times and even better music.

1 comment:

  1. Leave Gary Numan's set early? That's a jailable crime in much of Europe. It's a pity the shows you want to see have a timing conflict.