In the ’60s and ’70s, the Moog analog synthesizer was the gold standard of arty kitsch. It was heard on Wendy Carlos's unlikely 1968 hit, Switched-On Bach;
the Beatles' Abbey Road;
and just about any self-respecting prog-rock opus you could name. In recent years, though, the instrument has become an inanimate mascot for all sorts of electronic-oriented musical geekery. The excitement culminates annually at Moogfest, held in Asheville, North Carolina, in honor of the synth's creator and namesake, the late Bob Moog, who lived out his later years in that charmingly offbeat town.
Anyone expecting the fest lineup to consist of a bunch of Emerson, Lake & Palmer knockoffs sorely underestimates what Moogfest has become. Sure, the legacy acts—including Chic mastermind (and “Get Lucky” star) Nile Rodgers, P-Funk keyboard whiz Bernie Worrell and German electropop legends Kraftwerk—were out in force this year, but vanguard acts ranging from established stars like M.I.A. and Flying Lotus to up-and-comers such as Holly Herndon and Teengirl Fantasy also made up a good portion of the roster. Above, check out pics from the various performances and demonstrations. The range of performers—Dan Deacon, ADULT., El-P, Deerhunter's Bradford Cox and many more—shows you just how far the Moog brand has come in its 50-year history.