Photo by Allison Hussey
Big time in Durham: Moogfest comes to town
Remember that Sesame Street
song that went, "One of these things is not like the others?"
That phrase echoed in my head yesterday afternoon, as I stood among handsomely coiffed men in V-necks and well-dressed women with a lot of lipstick, both crowded in the front lobby of Durham's Full Frame Theater. We were all there, of course, to hear the news that Moogfest was coming to Durham
in 2016 and, then, for the foreseeable future.
I rolled up straightaway from my day job, a part-time gig at this very alt-weekly, which I pad with freelancing on the side. Aside from a few acquaintances, I recognized no one who felt like one of "my people"—that is, music nerds with a vested cultural interest in the arrival of a major music festival on their home turf. Instead, the crowd appeared to be a lot of business people who seemed to think there was money to be made, a town reputation to be enhanced or a camera to be smiled in front of. This, to me, seemed highly suspicious, and I felt unlike all the others.
Representatives from Shoeboxed and American Underground spoke first, lauding Durham as a tech hub. There was big applause for the start-up sorts who congregate outside my Main Street office on a weekly basis, clutching little laminated cards and high-fiving each other over and over again, like a perpetual venture capitalism motion machine. While Moog has a reputation for tech innovation, it's still first and foremost a music company, right. But where were the musicians weighing in on Moogfest? I couldn't really find them.
Mayor Bill Bell noted that everyone in the world was beating a path to Durham, and it left me wondering, as much as I like living here, "Why?" What can and will Durham do to support the suppose droves, beyond building handfuls of fancy hotels? Will we have the infrastructure in place, or just the lip service? And if Moogfest flops as spectacularly as it did in 2014, what would that mean for the city that seems so eager to welcome it yet, right now, also seems wholly unprepared for it?
"We have the spirit. Now we have the festival to go with it," Bell said
, remarkably overlooking Art of Cool and potentially over-promising in about a dozen words.
I want to be stoked for Moogfest. But the early focus on cash and city spirit over music for, you know, a music festival—or even a music-and-tech festival—leaves me a little uneasy.