(Photo credit: electric gnome photo by Rachel Whaley)
10 things to love about Mountain Oasis
1. Mountain Oasis supports emerging talent: The Mountain Oasis lineup this year included emerging artists like Jherek Bischoff, whose too-short set was a small highlight of 2013. When I saw Mountain Oasis mastermind Ashley Capps and Bischoff having brunch at Chorizo, I hoped it meant more exposure for the talented Bischoff, who was part of Amanda Palmer’s touring band in her recent world tour.
2. Mountain Oasis brings the world to Asheville: Like Moogfest in years past, Mountain Oasis brought top-tier talent to experience Asheville (Nine Inch Nails, Neutral Milk Hotel, Animal Collective). The result is artists raving about Asheville from the stage/Twitter/Facebook, like strict vegan Moby in past years, who shared his delight over the chef-prepared vegan food at Plant, or Brian Eno, who reportedly extended his 2012 visit because he enjoyed Asheville so much.
This year, Trent Reznor checked out the new Asheville Pinball Museum, ate food from Storm, and is rumored to have made a large purchase of local art. King Britt tweeted about bringing his wife along to the festival so he could convince her they need to retire here.
I can definitely see Mountain Oasis being profoundly influential in bringing an influx of creatives to visit or even move to Asheville. And I can even see a new tourism niche:creative class elites.
Because of Ashley Capps (an unabashed fan of Asheville who lives in Tennessee and visits regularly) and Mountain Oasis, world-class creatives see the sights in autumn, enjoying a vibrant downtown at one of its most exciting times of the year.
3. Mountain Oasis brings big money into the local economy: Pam Lewis, one of Asheville’s great supporters of entrepreneurship and bringing more film industry opportunity to Asheville, once told me that a major film shoot in the area put $200,000 into the local economy. EVERY DAY.
With dozens of performers, their entourages, staff, and 7,000 to 8,000 attendees daily paying for parking, lodging and food… Doing a little shopping… I’m guessing Mountain Oasis’ daily contribution to the local economy is equally impressive.
This year brought a more focused local initiative: an outreach event meant to help local businesses profit from Mountain Oasis attendees, and a “Trick or Treat” program that listed local businesses offering a discount to people with a festival wristband.
Nice work, Mountain Oasis. Love to see more outreach, even into areas outside of downtown like the RAD and the West Side.
4. Mountain Oasis honors the old guard of electronic music: Gary Numan played a well-received set of mostly new material, and was interviewed onstage by local electronic music journalist Geary Yelton. The Cellular Center was packed for Numan’s show, and a new generation (probably more than one) was reminded that Numan is more than just a great single. (Also, the electric gnome conga line was great.)
5. Mountain Oasis supports local talent: Continuing support of local talent included an art show of four talented local artists with live painting and live local music, as well as a local music showcase curated by emerging electronic music talent and Asheville resident Marley Carroll, who recently received attention from Stereogum for his new release, Sings.
6. Mountain Oasis supports the Bob Moog legacy: Asheville’s Bob Moog Foundation has a major new educational effort that uses sound and music to teach science with a power beyond words and text. Dr. Bob’s Interactive Sonic Experience was available throughout the festival to attendees, bringing the spirit of the late, great pioneer into the festival that once bore his name and still manages to celebrate his spirit.
Other events that brought Bob Moog to mind included a vintage synth exhibit, a sound-design event with world-class designers, and an industry demo at Echo Mountain.
7. Mountain Oasis didn’t miss a beat: From Moogfest 2012 to Mountain Oasis over the weekend was a significant transition and an impressive continuation. Deciding to do this and pulling it off couldn’t have been easy in light of Moog Music’s decision to end its relationship with AC Entertainment.
Capps made a bold move in renaming the festival and holding on to his claim on Halloween weekend, and actually pulled off a scaled-down, slightly different but successful festival.
It looks like Mountain Oasis is here to stay.
8: So now we get TWO technology/EDM festivals! Asheville is now gunning for becoming the EDM capital of the U.S. so long as it’s hosting two festivals drawing an international crowd, a nationally known recording studio, the Bob Moog Foundation, Moog Music AND Paper Tiger. It looks like we’ve got a fourth major local industry to add to tourism, beer, and restaurants.
I’m really looking forward to the new and different Moogfest in April 2014, a more SXSW-like five-day event with a job fair and tech expo as well as local art and musical performances. Will the music be on a level with the previous, AC-driven Moogfest, with artists on a par with Big Boi and the Flaming Lips? Only time will tell. But I’m curious who will perform and look forward to finding out.
9. THE GNOMES. Making their second festival appearance was what can probably be best described as electric gnomes: a group of attendees dressed as garden gnomes, with LED string lights on their conical hats and snowy white beards. Word spread around the festival that if you wanted to see the best of Mountain Oasis, just follow the gnomes…
Yes, this was a WNC/local group, not paid performers. Homegrown awesome! Thanks, gnomes.
Great video of the gnomes here at Gary Numan. Don’t miss the gnome conga line at 1:48.
10. A chance to let go of the Moogfest that was: Can we as a city say goodbye forever to the sheer mindblowing scope of the first few Moogfests, when spacemen roamed the streets and the Flaming Lips played an outdoor arena? Mountain Oasis seems to offer downsized decorations compared to Moogfests past, and a lineup that’s tight and strategic (catnip to young EDM fans) rather than packed with top-tier mainstream acts.
If that’s the case, can we all just accept that this is an electronic music festival, and just go to Bonnaroo already when we want to see Big Boi?