Monday, September 16, 2013

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

Hopscotch 2013 - Day Two Night Shows
with Sannhet, Dan Friel, Alpoko Don, Big Daddy Kane, and Mikal Cronin
Downtown Raleigh

Since Big Boi cancelled (apparently because he broke his leg) and Hopscotch subsequently booking a couple of dance acts to fill his spot, I didn't even both with the first City Plaza show of the festival.  Sure, I missed Future Islands, but I've seen them a thousand times and they'll be back through town plenty more (hopefully).  Between Hopscotch and the monthly First Friday crowd, downtown was an insane clusterfuck, and it took me forever to get to Slims to see Sannhet.  And since I got there late I didn't actually "see" them, because if you're not one of the first few people near the band at Slims you might as well be listening to the jukebox.  They appeared to have an elaborate light show as I could see them flashing, even if I couldn't see any band members.  They played really heavy instrumental metal, and as I've always loved the music of metal but often disliked the vocals this seemed like an ideal band for me.  The first comparison that comes to mind is Pelican, but Sannhet is much heavier and not as "long winded" as Pelican and their epic songs.  Even if I couldn't see the band they sure sounded great, hopefully they come back and play on a larger stage...or I can at least get to the gig earlier and stake out a spot in the front. 

From Slims I decided just to walk upstairs to the Hive and see a little bit of the set by Dan Friel.  Like Slims the place was already packed, only this time a large chunk of the crowd was a bunch of glowstick fuckhead ravers acting like shitheels.  Hopefully they were on a lot of drugs and that wasn't their natural state of existence.   Are these people still called ravers?  Probably not but I don't feel like looking up the new name for these clowns  I pushed past them and somewhat close to the front, though not close enough to take pics.  No matter really - it was just Friel doing some electronic futzing and his companion dude projecting some manner of lights on the wall in time with the music.  Unlike the knob twiddling I saw from Jamie Stewart/Xiu Xiu the night before, this electronic music was built around melody and song structure and I would have enjoyed it a little bit longer had those glow stick drunks not pushed their way to being right in front of my face.  It was time to leave.

Down the street at the Lincoln Theatre there was some hip hop going on, and I find it is in my best interest to see at least a little hip hop every Hopscotch.  I knew nothing of Greenville, SC rapper Alpoko Don before a few days ago, when I searched out some youtube videos of his music.  I was really feeling his video for the song "Talk to God," it's just him sitting on his porch rapping over a beat he's knocking out on the railing of that porch.  I wasn't sure how this would translate live - turns out it would translate quite well.  His stage set-up was a table with a mic laying on it, and Don sat in a chair knocking the beat out on the table while he rapped into another mic.  It was very raw and sorta stunning really, much more intimate than you ever expect in live hip hop.  His voice reminds me a lot of Scarface, but his sound is very Memphis/dirty south/whatever the hell you call it.  He performed this same way for a few songs, and then wrapped up his set performing a couple of tracks traditional-style, prowling the stage rapping over a prerecorded track.  Dude is just getting started and hopefully he finds an audience, because he deserves to be heard. 

Action Bronson was supposed to be the next act, but he had to cancel last minute due to hurting his back (there were a lot of cancellations, probably the only negative of this year's fest I can think of).  As a last minute replacement the folks at Hopscotch booked Big Daddy Kane to stand in.  Like most people my age I dug me some Big Daddy Kane back in high school, but hadn't given the dude much thought in at least a decade if not longer.  After Alpoko Don I had a good spot up front and decided to stick around and see what exactly 2013 Big Daddy Kane show might be all about.  I suppose I was expecting an older guy not quite on his game but getting by on the fumes of nostalgia.  I was 100% wrong.  His DJ warmed the crowd up for about fifteen minutes playing bits and pieces of a lot of nineties' classic jams, and then Kane came out like a spitfire, instantly reminding me and probably others why he was so popular in the first place.  His rapping was on point and perfect, and he played the crowd like a fiddle.  The place was pretty damn full, and everyone was losing their goddamn minds the entire time I was there.  Nobody seems to rap like this anymore, with Kane's level of ferocity and speed...most of the new crop sound like they're permanently trippin' on codeine.  I didn't stick around for him but I really feel sorry for Earl Sweatshirt having to follow what Big Daddy Kane left on that stage, there is no way he didn't come across as a hot pile of garbage comparatively. 

I walked up the street to the Pour House for my final gig of the night, Mikal Cronin.  He was one of the acts I was looking forward to most this fest - his most recent album "MCII" is one of the great pop records of the year, nearly every song on it a catchy son-of-a-bitch.  His live show was a lot more rockin' than his recordings with tons of guitar shreddery, but the hooks were still there.  That guitar work was especially impressive given Cronin was playing his hot leads on a hollow body twelve string.  I thought the drummer looked very familiar, turns out she also drums for Ty Segall (no big surprise there)...I'm not entirely sure why I'm pointing this out, but there it is.  The club was packed, so I wasn't the only one who had the bright idea to end his night here...even saw Big Daddy Kane at the back of the club!  I guess he chose to come up to the Pour House instead of hanging around for Earl Sweatshirt.  I'm wracking my brain to think of something more interesting to say here other than "good show old chap" but really, that sums it up.  It was more or less exactly what I expected, and quite enjoyable. 

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