Still figuring out who you want to see? We recommend these four acts.
- Photo courtesy of Stones Throw Records
- PEANUT BUTTER WOLF
PEANUT BUTTER WOLF
Thursday, midnight, Motorco
Some kids dream of scoring a record deal, while kids like Chris Manak dream of starting a record label. And six years after the teenage whiz-kid producer and turntablist started up operations in his bedroom in San Jose, California, he realized that dream by launching Stones Throw Records in 1996. In the ensuing years, as Peanut Butter Wolf, he had begun to make his mark, initially in collaborations with an emcee, Charles Hicks, known as Charizma, and then in instrumental works he recorded in the wake of his partner's tragic death in 1992. The first releases by Manak's L.A. label resurrected his work with Charizma, and since then he has made the transition from performing to throwing his energy behind Stones Throw. The force of that effort has earned Stones Throw a reputation as the ultimate alternative hip-hop label, with the likes of Kanye West and Common singing its praises. With an approach that's fearless and discerning, the label is known both for putting out seminal releases by MadLib, Madvillain, and J Dilla, records that broke from the established genre forms and are regarded as classics, as well as issuing LPs by envelope-pushing weirdos operating in an undefinable amalgam of styles. Through it all, Manak has made it work thanks to a rare set of skills: musical, curatorial, and entrepreneurial.
- File photo by Adam Kissick
Saturday, 10:15 p.m., Motorco
Many performers seduce an audience; others do what they do and dare us to look away. Margaret Chardiet, aka Pharmakon, falls into the latter category. Using her voice, her body, and a variety of keyboards, pedals, and homemade electronic instruments, she eschews traditional song forms for a kind of performance art set in a jarring sonic landscape crafted from caustic shards at a massive volume. Her performances feel as much like underground theater or primitive ritual as a concert. With a vocal palette of from-the-gut bellowing and shrieks, Chardiet's spectacle is unsettling and hard to ignore. Watching her as she writhes supine on the floor pouring otherworldly vocalizations into a microphone, we wonder what we're seeing, what she's going through—a rare thing to experience in the setting of a rock club.
- Photo courtesy of Ground Control Touring
- MARISA ANDERSON
Saturday, 3:20 p.m., First Presbyterian Church
The presence of Marisa Anderson says a lot about the inclusivity of Moogfest. The Portland-based experimental guitarist plays traditional forms of American guitar music on gently amped old Gretsch models, along with lap and pedal steel, and not even abetted by a pedal. But in her application of drone and minimalism and other modern forms, Anderson makes a fine fit for a festival celebrating the vital outer edge of creativity in music. She is very much a spiritual heir to John Fahey, and in his spirit, Anderson has a vast knowledge of and reverence for traditional American guitar music. With a master's fluidity and pureness of tone, she infuses her songs with palpable emotion and a sense of unwavering commitment, making her original instrumental tunes and renditions of Delta blues and gospel songs a riveting display. —David Klein
- Photo by Eric Coleman
- SUDAN ARCHIVES
Friday, 7:45 p.m., First Presbyterian Church
This year, Moogfest's stated goal of growing "a global community of futurists who explore emerging sound technologies" is embodied by the artist known as Sudan Archives. With little more than her violin, a looping pedal, and her assured, flowing vocals, the writer-producer-musician reimagined Kendrick Lamar's "King Kunta" in a minimalist palette informed by traditional African instruments, blues runs, and her own knowing perspective. Her music feels very much beyond the now: a combination of raw talent (she is self-taught), a serious study of ethnomusicology, a deep well of curiosity, and an alchemist's gift. Though she was raised in Cincinnati and operates out of L.A., her adopted name invokes the global nature of her influences, which range from Iran to West Africa to Brooklyn and beyond. And taking an ancient instrument and blending it effortlessly into hip-hop and other current musical idioms seems like an act of innovation by someone not only exploring emerging sound technologies but wielding them with an audacity that the festival's namesake would surely admire. It's no surprise she's found a home at Stones Throw Records, which will release her debut record. —David Klein