Editor’s Picks for Top Performances of Mountain Oasis Festival
Last weekend, we had a great time taking in the scenery and sounds of the inaugural Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit. It was hard to narrow it down, but Aleah Axiom & Phil Minnick combined their favorites to come up with our top 10. Here they are, in chronological order.
Kicking off the festival with a bang was Dirtybird Records head Claude VonStroke. The crowd started out small but gradually grew larger and larger as his booty-shaking beats carried through the ExploreAsheville.com Arena. Seasoned house heads and 16-year-old kids who were obviously only there super early to see Bassnectar alike were moved by his energy.
There’s nobody that has more fun behind the decks than CVS. His set was a great combo of material off his newest album Urban Animal (several copies of which he threw out into the crowd) such as “Dood” and “The Clapping Track” as well as several Dirtybird heavy-hitters and other addicting tracks. From start to finish, I couldn’t stop moving and couldn’t have been happier to officially start my weekend with the huge smile he planted on my face. –AA
Friday night’s highlight was Deltron 3030’s epic set which had all the hip-hop heads bobbing like crazy. Having seen Del tha Funky Homosapien in previous (outstanding) tours, I thought I knew what to expect. WRONG! This performance featuring a horn section, backup vocals, full band, and Kid Koala on 3 turntables, all directed by the legendary Deltron 3030 producer, Dan the Automator.
The set kicked off with an epic rendition of the intro to the group’s debut album: “State of the Nation/3030.” Del & Dan continued on with some OG hits such as Positive Contact, leading to some monsters from 3030’s new album, Event II. Dan led the audience through a dope version of “Nobody Can,” getting everyone to scream out “Deltron is our hero; If he can’t do it nobody can!” Other highlights included the killer turntable solo by Kid Koala going right into the classic “Virus into Memory Loss.” Just when everyone thought the show couldn’t get any better, the band dropped into The Gorillaz’ hit “Clint Eastwood,” sending everyone in a f*cking frenzy. Del ripped out the verses and sent everyone on their way with a sh*t-eating grin. –PM
While getting ready for the second day of the festival, we listened to several tracks by New York producer Ital and I immediately questioned why they weren’t already in my library. His techno-industrial sound captivated me and got me even more excited for the night ahead. After a day of exploring the city, we made it to the Orange Peel, an intimate venue with a kick-ass sound system, and were treated to a dark, heavy set by the intriguing up-and-comer.
Touching on elements of several of my favorite genres, Ital combined live beat-making with some of the tastiest techno records we’ve ever gotten down to. I felt like I was transported into Berghain watching Ben Klock destroy the room. Our crew didn’t want his set to end. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Ital. –AA
Saturday was a great day for industrial rock in Asheville. Gary Numan graced us with his presence for an entertaining yet informative interview hosted by Geary Yelton. Getting a perspective of Gary’s long and winding career along with his satisfaction with Splinter, his latest album, set the evening’s show in a personal light.
The Peacock crew had just witnessed a mind-blowing performance from Ital before walking over to the ExploreAsheville.com Arena. After getting in and grabbing a beer, we were treated to Mr. Numan railing out “Everything Comes Down to This.” We would be treated to a few more tracks from Splinter as the set progressed. Later, Gary busted out the 1979 hit, “Down in the Park” which got the crowd going. Following this was a great rendition of the title-track of Gary’s latest album, “Splinter.” We were really digging the darker vibe Gary and his band were creating. The industrial riffs then gave way to the fan-favorite, “Cars” which lightened the mood and got the whole crowd singing along. The set kept driving on with a few more tracks off the new album before arriving at another classic, “Metal” from The Pleasure Principle. Finally, Gary set the mood for Trent Reznor and co. to dominate the stage with a dark rendition of “A Prayer for the Unborn” off the album Pure. Gary had a great stage presence along with a top-notch band, getting the crowd into new and classic material alike. –PM
Chromatics took the stage at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium which was just down the hall from the Gary Numan concert. We found some killer seats a few rows behind the soundboard and witnessed the 4-piece band from Portland make some magic on stage.
Lead vocalist, Ruth Radelet blended organically with the massive guitar and synth sound that characterizes this modern synthpop revival. The setlist was largely drawn from the defining 2011 release, Kill for Love (go buy this album immediately if you do not already own it). The band weaved from one song to the next, keeping the energy up, but never over-the-top. The front half of the audience was standing up, but the other half were chillin’ in seats toward the back-half of the auditorium. That is one thing that made Chromatics great Saturday evening, intense enough to get down to, catchy enough to sing along with, yet relaxing enough to enjoy if you were trying to save some energy for Animal Collective and Nine Inch Nails who played later that evening. –PM
Nine Inch Nails
To properly close out our night of machine-inspired music was the incomperable Nine Inch Nails. I managed to work my way up through the crowd until I was within yards of the stage, an experience I hadn’t yet had with my long-time favorite band. This allowed for a great view of the immensely talented 8-piece band and their journey through the whole Nails discography.
Unfortunately, the band couldn’t bring their entire Tension tour setup into the arena, but they still managed to deliver a progressive performance. The slimmed-down stage production allowed the octet’s musical prowess to shine through. Stand-by fan favorites like “March of the Pigs,” “Head Like A Hole,” and “Burn” were matched with deeper cuts off of 1999 album The Fragile like “The Big Come Down” and “Even Deeper.” The real highlights of the set were tracks off of the band’s brand new album Hesitation Marks. Its first single “Came Back Haunted,” scathing, guitar-fueled track “All Time Low” and glitchy B-Side “Running” were delivered with precision, proof that the return of NIN to the world of live electronic music was well overdue. –AA
Ulrich Schnauss performed in the intimate Diana Wortham Theatre sporting a sleek Ableton-based setup with large mixing console. The theater was almost full when we got in, and found a seat quickly. As the soothing melodies began to emanate from the venue’s outstanding soundsystem, we knew some amazing music was about to unfold.
Ulrich stood on the left side of the stage, beside a massive, hi-rez video screen. As he seamlessly combined riffs and sections of his tracks, a soundscape emerged that captivated the audience. The room was silent for most of the show, with the attendees getting a live set of Mr. Schnauss doing what he does best. Be sure to catch Ulrich if you are lucky enough to find him playing in your area. –PM
Sunday worked us out in a variety of ways. We managed to catch 8 performances in 6 different venues across the city. If I had to pick a favorite from those 8, it would be T. Williams. With a combination of some of the freshest in house, garage, and tech house, it’s no wonder the UK-based producer is about to share the stage with Justin Martin, George FitzGerald, and even Diplo.
We all got loose right in front of the booth in the half-full 300-capacity Asheville Music Hall. It was impossible not to get lost in his groove. With spot-on mixing and a great stage presence, Mr. Williams proved his star quality. A highlight of the set was his peak-time drop of Celcius’ “Incoming.” We definitely got lucky to witness him in such an intimate setting. My guess is that next year it’ll be much harder to get that close. –AA
Disclosure gained quite a lot of momentum in the last year. Their previous trip to Asheville took place in one of the smaller venues, and they filled up the main stage without an issue this year. Their catchy songwriting, an enthralling live performance, and debut album release all were factors in such a popularity bump.
The brother’s set began with the massive UK hit, “F For You” and a personal favorite, “When a Fire Starts to Burn” to get the party started. The energy was just non-stop as they went from one smash-hit to the next. After a few more killer tracks, the wonderful Jessie Ware took the stage for a killer rendition of “Running” (Disclosure Remix of course). The set ended on a high note with the swinging, sexy groove of the track, “Latch.” Everyone left the ExploreAsheville.com arena with a smile, ready to end the festival on a high note. –PM
Closing out the festival were ambient-house pioneers The Orb, who took the delighted audience on a journey through their 20-plus year career. We found ourselves guided into a trance-like-state by the duo of founding member Alex Paterson and Teutonic Beats label head and long-time member Thomas Fehlmann.
From starting off with debut album The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’s “Spanish Castles in Space,” through later tracks like “Plateau” and “Toxygene,” and then closing with their trademark “Little Fluffy Clouds,” The Orb proved that they still have the power to captivate and move. The crowd started small but gradually grew until the Orange Peel was packed with an eclectic mix of old-school ravers and new-school electronic fans. Their set was the perfect finale to an outstanding first edition of Mountain Oasis. –AA
We’re already looking forward to dancing in the mountains again next year. Check out more of our pics in our Flickr gallery! All photos by Jess Hruska.