Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hopscotch Music Fest 2013, Day 2 Day Parties around downtown Raleigh - 9/6/2013

Hopscotch 2013 - Day Two Day Parties
with Pontiak, Stems, The Beets, and Swearin'
Downtown Raleigh

I decided to only go to day parties on the second day of Hopscotch.  There was one major reason I chose this day, and that reason was Pontiak.  I've been listening to the band for a few years now, but only recently saw them live.  And it was after that first live viewing that it was decided I would make every effort to never miss seeing them live again anytime they ever played near me.  I got to CAM a few minutes early and was getting worried because the museum was nearly empty, and if any band deserves a crowd it's this trio of brothers.  Then right before Pontiak started playing, all of the sudden a lot of people piled into the space; and on Pontiak's first note, the crowd all went right to the front of the stage, as if I was controlling them with my mind.  Thankfully too, as I didn't want to awkwardly be the only person standing by myself in front of the band with no one else around.  From start to finish Pontiak completely slayed my eyes, ears, mind, and camera.  I thought they were good when I saw them a few days ago in Asheville - they were twice that on this day.  Was this helped by the fact that I was skipping work to see a great band in the middle of the day?  Maybe.  Regardless, I'm not sure there is a better band on the planet that plays their brand of sludgy, psychedelic southern metal. 

My next few bands were going to be at Slims for the Churchkey Records party, but first I stopped next door at Chucks for a cheeseburger.  I know I'm really going out on a limb, but goddamn do they make a good burger.  The problem is as soon as I got into Slims (after surprisingly having to wait in line), I found they had multiple trays of free Bojangles biscuits!  I repeat - FREE BOJANGLES.  I wasn't even hungry but ate some anyways, because turning down free Bojangles is a punishable offense in North Carolina. 

Anyways, the next band up was Stems.  I didn't know dick about them, and only with a little research while writing this up did I realize they were even local (Durham apparently, unless the internets is lying).  They were a three-piece band with two guitars and a drummer, with both male and female vocals from the two guitarists.  Let's talk about that drummer for a second - I've never seen a set-up like he had in my life.  He was playing a four-piece kit with two floor toms, no cymbals, and what looked like a Chick Tract taped to the head of the snare.  Being a show on the back patio of Slims the sound wasn't great, but they seemed to be going for a scuzzy slack rock sort of thing, like maybe a garage rock version of Pavement.  Being local I'll definitely try to see them again, they could develop into a real musical treat. 

The main reason I was at this particular day party performed next on the inside stage - the Beets from New York.  I'm guessing Queens specifically, based on the banners that were flying behind the band.   This three-piece had a very elaborate stage set-up, a wall of banners and lots of different lights and apparently even a dude dedicated to running the light show, who hid behind the banners (no idea if this hiding is normal or just because the Slims stage is small).  Their music is crazy catchy, infectious, jangly and a little sloppy, sounding like early Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers mixed with Half Japanese and Papas Fritas.  They might have spent more time setting up and breaking down all their crazy decorations than actually playing music, but I still enjoyed the shit out of the Beets. 

My final band of the day parties was Swearin'.  Again, I knew nothing of these guys (and gal) but had enough friends saying that they wanted to check them out that I figured it would be a band worth sticking around for.  There was a delay in their set as the band hadn't arrived at Slims yet, but I was very impressed that within five minutes of their van pulling up they were rocking out, one of the joys of bands sharing a backline.  It's been well documented that the sounds of the nineties are alive and well with the kids, and Swearin' definitely falls in line by sounding a lot like Jawbreaker.  The female vocals also prompt me for a comparison to Jejune and Ashes, though Swearin' isn't nearly as emo.  This was definitely one of the best surprises of the whole fest, it's not often a band I know nothing about blows me away like these kids did. 

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