Mountain Oasis Music Festival
Ashville, North Carolina
October 25-27, 2013
Review by Sarah Sharp
If you checked the Instagram, you saw that we had a blast at Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit in Asheville, NC, this past weekend. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be everywhere all at once, but we hopped around as much as possible. We’ve compiled a list of our most memorable moments from the festival below.
1. Disclosure with special guest Jessie Ware at the ExploreAsheville.com Arena
This was hands down one of the most highly anticipated shows of the entire weekend. UK-based brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, 22 and 19, lit up the stage with diamond-shaped LED screens displaying animations of their signature facial outlines (singing along with the lyrics). Whereas many electronic artists would rather not employ live instrumentation due to many possible complications, Disclosure gave a fully-engaged performance, playing multiple synths, bass, drums, percussion, drum pads, triggering samples, not to mention they brought on collaborator and vocalist Jessie Ware for a couple songs. As soon as she broke through the chorus of “Confess to Me” (from Disclosure’s critically acclaimed Settle), everyone lost their shit. These guys should definitely come back and headline.
2. Tara Busch aka I Speak Machine performs the score for The Silence
It’s not everyday that you get to watch someone score a film. This was definitely one of those moments that makes Mountain Oasis different from most festivals. I had never heard of Tara Busch before walking into the Diana Wortham Theatre on Saturday night. And if I guessed what she’d sound like by her appearance—petite with red hair parted to the side, wearing thick-rimmed, rectangular black frames, lacking flamboyance—I wouldn’t have envisioned the industrial, vocally-driven orchestral electronica that summoned from her analog compound. The L.A.-based producer, musician, remixer, and score composer also known as I Speak Machine debuted her latest film score for The Silence, a British silent sci-fi/horror film. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of eerie, psychotic sensory explosion. Belcourt? Third Man? Someone bring her to Nashville.
3. DARKSIDE at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
DARKSIDE is the brainchild of American-Chilean electronic musician Nicolas Jaar (2011’s Space is Only Noise, founder of label/art house Clown & Sunset and its successor Other People) and Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington. At Mountain Oasis, Nico (Jaar’s nickname) employed his minimal style of electronica (which he calls “blue-wave”) and airy falsetto while Harrington complemented Jaar with bluesy guitar—making for a hypnotizing, almost-otherworldly experience.
DARKSIDE formed while the two were on tour in Berlin for Jaar’s Space is Only Noise tour in 2011 (which Harrington played for after the two met while at Brown University). When they both returned home to New York, they continued with DARKSIDE, releasing a three-song EP, a Daft Punk remix album, and earlier this month, they released their debut, Psychic.
4. Gary Numan at the ExploreAsheville.com Arena
WTF. Gary Numan is still making music? Actually, he’s been quite prolific since his 1979 hits “Cars” and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric.” As you can imagine, the youngsters that filled Asheville venues for Mountain Oasis had no idea what they were getting themselves into with this show. But that usually makes for the best scenario. Of course he played “Cars” (for the encore), but the entirety of his show, he played songs from his 2013 release, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). Whereas most of us remember him as upbeat, quirky, electronic pop-rock, this show was more like an industrial orchestra, channeling equal parts James Maynard Keenan (circa A Perfect Circle) and Trent Reznor. Yet another reason why this festival continues to reign—it’s unpredictable.
5. The Orb at The Orange Peel
Seeing The Orb was definitely a check off the bucket list, and for it to be the closing show at The Orange Peel was a perfect way to end the festival. These guys are one of the only bands to come out of the 1988 acid house movement that are still making music today. They pioneered the electronic genre, ambient house, and have been owning it for 25 years. Needless to say, the show at The Orange Peel was truly a legendary techno-groove dance party unlike any other. Things got weird.