The ExitEvent team spent four days capturing all the cool stuff going on in downtown Durham for Moogfest. Below is our recap of day one, but be sure to check out highlights from days two, three and four.

Thanks for following along!


Check out our Facebook album for photos courtesy of Moogfest

Coverage by The Atlantic:

With a piece titled ‘Throw It in Their Faces’: Artists Grapple With North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’, The Atlantic is one of the first national media sources to cover Moogfest 2017. Writer David Graham, who also moderated a conversation with hip hop artist Talib Kweli, explores the Protest theme and its draw for openly queer artists like Raleigh native Mykki Blanco and Michael Stipe, despite North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill” and conservative politics.

Recap: Conversation with Talib Kweli

By Jon Mareane

Talib Kweli is a highlight of both day and night time programming at Moogfest. Here, he performs before a crowd at Motorco Thursday night.

In true rockstar fashion, legendary hip-hop artist and icon, activist and entertainer Talib Kweli took to the stage for his conversation nearly an hour late. The wait was worth it.

Kweli made up for his tardiness by diving head first into a meaty discussion of Pepe the Frog, Twitter beef with Neo-Nazis and corporate sponsorship of music.

If the topics seem ridiculous. They’re not. Mike Cernovich and Breitbart have White House press credentials, and our president has a friendly relationship with Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones.

“It looks like a silly fucking frog to me”, Kweli told the crowd, but Matt Fury’s Pepe the Frog meme had enough of an impact on the artist that he spent a chunk of his already truncated speaking time discussing the “alt-right” meme and the movement behind it.

Kweli, who at the time of writing is arguing with a teenager on Twitter, has become well known for his social media feuds.

He seems especially concerned with the realization that these “alt-right trolls” and “neo-nazis” aren’t the bots or socially isolated basement dwellers that some imagine.

Describing them as trolls “is not giving them enough credit, because these are people we work with, the people who serve our food… these are not just random trolls that are harmless”, he remarked.

While this might seem petty, Kweli has spent his career stirring the pot with a controversial and socially conscious brand of hip-hop. “This twitter shit is light work” compared to arguing with a “dude on the corner in Brooklyn drinking a 40”, he quipped with a chuckle.

If this conversation seems inane, consider the fact that 4chan’s /pol/ and Reddit’s /r/The_Donald have power in numbers and what they like to call “weaponized autism”

Using the Twitter thread as a segue, Kweli moved on to the current state of rap music and the normalization of corporate sponsorship in its culture.

Now that record sales are down across the board and artists can’t count on album purchases to fill their bank accounts, partnering with advertisers or large brands is the way to do make money, Kweli says.

“I can’t say I wouldn’t take Kit Kat money, I can’t say I wouldn’t take tequila money. I got a family, I got bills to pay,” he says.

“I was able to make money just by being a dope rapper for years”, but that’s no longer the case in today’s industry according to Kweli.

Moderator David Graham of The Atlantic closed out the panel with the question of the night. Will Kweli’s hip-hop power-duo Black Star make a comeback if Mos Def got back on board?

His reply? “I don’t know, The Seven (his latest EP) is out right now.”

Recap: Generation Z: A New Era of Creativity

By Shannon Cuthrell

First, businesses had to adapt to the sheer magnitude of the Millennial generation—around 75 million people—and now they’re having to do so once again. In the wake of the Millennials is a fresh cohort of kids who are markedly unique in their style, commitment and preferences.

Festival goers got a glimpse inside the Z generation Thursday evening at The Bullpen from Armida Ascano, VP of Insight at Trend Hunter, a firm that helps brands understand their target audiences, mostly young consumers working in tech, design, fashion and other hot consumer industries.

Here are her highlights: Generation Z loves content, and these kids spend their eight-second attention span wisely. Key characteristics that distinguish Generation Z are a show vs. tell mentality, an innate attraction to diversity and a clear dedication to authenticity in the brands they choose and whether or not those brands are providing high quality products.

They’re socially conscious and expect brands to carry the same consciousness and responsibility to do good. They also have an inherent sense of entrepreneurship, which to them means filling gaps in the system. They build ventures out of creative, solution-driven ideas. And they do so shamelessly and effortlessly, taking matters into their own hands to reach their full potential—with or without the help of other generations. Ascano’s data shows that 72 percent of high school students want to start their own business someday.

Through these lenses, Ascano took periodic breaks between her points to ask the audience rhetorical questions about how products can be tailored to fit Generation Z’s traits and behaviors.

The smartest filter entrepreneurs should have when targeting those demographics is consideration for how a product or idea can better Gen Z, not individually but as a whole. Products should honor the generation’s three-fold loyalty toward social responsibility, brand sincerity and innovative thought.

Recap: Conversation with Elysia Crampton on the main stage

By Jon Mareane

This year’s Moogfest started off much in the same way as last—chaotic and strange.

Experimental electronic artist Elysia Crampton apparently felt much the same. “This is weird and neat”, Crampton remarked to the crowd gathered for her conversation with moderator and Editor in Chief of The Creative Independent, Brandon Stusoy.

As it was last year, seating was sparse, with event volunteers and security turning away hopeful attendees who arrived too late to secure their spot. While last year’s seating concerns and issues with event infrastructure could be brushed off as growing pains from changing the Asheville-based festival to more-trafficked Durham, organizational hiccups this year are more apparent and disappointing given the year to learn from mistakes.

Thankfully, the talent remained as strong and rambling and strange as ever, as evidenced by this discussion—one of the first of Moogfest 2017.

The pair began with remarks on the counterculture and protest movements so present in Moogfest 2017 programming, a subject which Crampton used to launch into her family history, idea of cultural identity, and how these factors relate to her music.

Crampton was raised in a Native American home with parents who found their calling working with developmentally disadvantaged adults. In this environment, surrounded by influences of colonialism and strife, the artist quickly developed a sense of an “ethical call” to communicate with or help those struggling with their identity or disabilities.

Shortly after dropping out of a university engineering program, she set her sights on “finding any way I could to confront that [ethical obligation] and to answer that call, and for me music was a language.”

Perhaps the most interesting, albeit rambling, tangent by the pair was on the nature of sound and language.

Crampton described how creating soundscapes void of vocals allows for the most freedom of expression. She noted that all sounds are language, from “farting or mucus coming out of your nose” to organized verbiage, and that using only instrumental sounds allows for “more agency, more space to think about things” as compared to tracks defined by their lyrics.

Crampton is picky about the festivals she attends, feeling that if her “input isn’t invited” then she’s broken the narrative of the gathering.

Based on the content of her conversation, and her stated belief that “dogs can probably smell colors”, it looks like she should feel right at home at Moogfest.

Bronto Gets Creative for Moogfest With Data + Dino

An exercise in creativity in support of Moogfest has had an unexpected side benefit for the team at Bronto.

By turning its customers’ Black Friday email impressions, open rates, click through and conversions data into an interactive experience with sounds and graphics, the Durham-based email marketing software company is impressing new parent company Oracle, as well as its customers around the world.

An installation called The Sound of Commerce debuts this weekend during Moogfest but will soon go on tour with the Bronto team to customers in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia and London. It’s already made an appearance at the annual Bronto Summit, held in timing with a larger Oracle conference in Las Vegas in April. Read the rest here.

Bronto at Moogfest: The Sound of Commerce from ExitEvent on Vimeo.

Moogfest in photos

This geometrically designed hut is the site of workshops all weekend on the theme of creating around democracy and protest.


American Underground hosts a recharge station for the second year in a row, with free MATI energy drinks, Nugget couches for lounging and free phone chargers.


A traveling virtual reality experience stops in Durham’s CCB Plaza.


Helpful signs around Durham point attendees to the two dozen or so venues hosting conversations, installations, performances and more.


The organizers of the Beats n Bars Festival are using Moogfest to do some early promotion for their 2017 event, coming September 22-23 to downtown Durham.


A pair of former Windsor Circle staffers launched their own startup earlier this year, the healthy food truck called Medley. Here they are serving hungry festival-goers at Moogfest.

Big Top reverse job fair

Photos from Wednesday night’s Big Top circus-themed reverse job fair on the American Tobacco Campus, which drew hundreds of jobseekers to meet with a dozen or so local hiring technology companies:

80 students at historically black colleges around the United States attended Big Top as part of a weeklong summit in Durham hosted by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


PrecisionHawk has a new CEO and ambition to add dozens of staffers at its Raleigh headquarters this year and in the future. The theme of its presentation at Big Top: Drones.


Circus performers are a highlight of Big Top, held several times a year around the Triangle.


Chris Heivly is the founder and ringleader of Big Top, now in its 15th rendition.


Pendo is one of the most aggressive startups when it comes to hiring. The software startup hopes to grow its team from 97 people in downtown Raleigh to 160 by the end of this year.


As a prep for Moogfest, check out our coverage leading up to the event, as well as some of our post event coverage from last year’s inaugural festival in Durham.

21 Locals Headlining Moogfest

Moogfest Daytime Lineup Protests HB2, Enlightens, Collaborates in 2017

How Durham Sold Durham at Moogfest: A Festival Post-Mortem

Moogfest Gets Loud & Weird with Sunn O))), Reminds Us Why We’re Here

Full 2016 coverage