Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hopscotch Music Fest 2010, Day 1 around downtown Raleigh - 9/9/2010

Hopscotch Music Festival - Day One
with Lucero, Best Coast, Cults, Old Bricks and No Tomorrow
Downtown Raleigh (Multiple Venues)

The First night of the new, highly anticipated music festival known as Hopscotch. I got out in the streets nice and early to get my wristband (which I put on too tight and drove me nearly insane) and promptly went on the hunt for some music. My first destination was the Busy Bee to see Old Bricks, but en route I heard some music coming out of Slims so I went in to see what was happening. Turns out it was a band called No Tomorrow, an outfit hailing from Wilmington that sounded like The Cro-Mags or NYC hardcore crossed with metal. It was fun enough for a few songs, a decent unplanned diversion en route to other endeavors.

And that other endeavor was literally right next door at the Busy Bee. One of the best parts of this festival is how walkable the whole thing is. Old Bricks were still setting up when I walked in, so I entertained myself watching Mr. Retirement, Brett Farve, play some football on the bar TV. I'm pretty sure he retired and unretired three times in the five minutes I was watching. Then the band played, and they were very entertaining as always. It was the newish four man version of the band which I've seen once before but forgot or got too lazy to write about. Interestingly enough (or at least interesting to me), doubling the number of members in the band included adding the singer from Motor Skills, another band that somewhat recently doubled in size. They've still got a sort of Animal Collective/Dodos vibe, lots of reverb and up to three members drumming at once, though if you added up all the drums on stage it would probably equal one kit. I dig their sound and their songs and performance is getting stronger and stronger each time I see them. Outside of the vapid blondes standing next to me talking about "fucking some bitch up", it was very enjoyable.

I staggered down the hill and lined up to get into Tir Na wasn't much of a line mind you, and I was in the club after about five minutes. It was packed. Even the far side of the bar away from the stage was full of people. Cults had just started their set...I found a spot in the back of the crowd and watched the band churn out their pop ditties while throngs of kids waved their glow stick-clad arms in the air. The singer for Cults was delightfully cute, and had a voice that matched her looks. I'm usually not one for cutesy pop music, but I've certainly heard worse than these guys. There is something very Euro about their sound, which can obviously be good or bad...and honestly I'm not sure which end of the spectrum Cults falls in. It's going to take further listening to get to the bottom of this one.

Between bands I managed to weasel my way up into the middle of the crowd. Best Coast got their gear set up pretty quickly, but due to festival rules had to wait a while before they could play. So I just stood there, eavesdropped on inane conversations, and sweated. A lot. Did I mention it was packed? These guys were one of the top buzz bands of the festival, and once they started playing it was obvious catchy, so infectious. I've been loving this band and their songs for a few months now, and was worried seeing the band live they wouldn't live up to the high standard I had set in my convoluted brain - but they were just as adorable and enjoyable on this evening as any recorded output. I'd guess they played nearly all of their songs, including "When I'm With You" and all the other ones I wanted to hear whose names escape me. One of the best shows of the festival.

I'd planned on ending my evening at the Berkeley Cafe with a Future Islands dance party, but the line to get in stretched around the block prompting me to utter "fuck that" and take my ass over to the Lincoln Theatre to see a little Lucero. Of course, Lucero tops my "love the band, hate the fans" list - generally a loud, rude group of inebriated boobs who take the band's drunken lovability and go way over the top, usually irritating the shit out of me. But for whatever reason, the crowd was mostly subdued this evening, which meant you could actually watch and hear the band perform their heartland country rock stylings. It was my first time seeing them with a horn section, which seemed really out of place but after getting used to it I decided I liked what it added to the live sound. They mixed up their set list with a lot of songs from their most recent record "1372 Overton Park" (which I honestly haven't listened to very much) and older material (which I knew well and clearly delighted the crowd). I watched a large portion of their set before my old man tiredness set in and I called it a night. A great start to Hopscotch to be sure, and I was looking forward to the next couple of days of rockin' out.

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