Monday, September 8, 2014

Hopscotch 2014 - Day Two Evening Performances at City Plaza, Vintage 21, Tir Na Nog, the Pour House & the Lincoln Theatre - 9/5/2014

Hopscotch 2014
Day Two - Evening Performances
City Plaza, Vintage 21, Tir Na Nog, the Pour House & the Lincoln Theatre

I had never paid much attention to St. Vincent - heard a couple of songs here and there, saw part of their recent performance on Saturday Night Live, but that was about it.  I had zero expectations for her set at City Plaza, but found myself very pleasantly surprised.  Their live show was a full spectacle: weird choreographed dances combined with a light show and great, catchy music that really reminded me of modern version of Prince (and I recently re-watched "Purple Rain," so I'm an expert in this subject).  Oh, and it was loud.  I mean, LOUD - I wasn't even that close to the stage and it left my ears ringing.  Annie Clark really is the total package - complete shredder on the guitar, great song writer and performer, and being very pleasant to look at doesn't hurt either.  As much as I might personally like Spoon, St. Vincent should have probably been the headliner tonight, because it wouldn't be fair to ask them or most anyone else to follow up this performance. 

Spoon was the headliner though, and it had been a while since I'd seen them.  I've barely listened to their records after 2007's "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga," so I was really hoping some of their older songs would make it into the set list.  Mixed in with the newer tracks I didn't know were classics such as "The Underdog," "I Turn My Camera On," "I Summon You," and most excitingly "Small Stakes."  Yeah, I would have loved to hear more of these older songs, but I didn't really expect it.  Then again, I only caught about the first hour of their performance before heading off to other venues, so they might have played a few more vintage hits in the remainder of their set.  Oh yeah, they also had a great light show, maybe not as good as St. Vincent's, but since it was dark by the time Spoon took the stage the lights stood out more.  And we'll not even discuss the fact that most of the band was dressed in all white after Labor Day as if they don't know the rules of fashion.  Tsk tsk. 

My next stop was going to be Obnox at Slims, but with a huge line queued up outside I just walked right past and headed to Vintage 21 (aka that church on the corner of Hargett & Person) to see local lads Enemy Waves.  I caught a good set by them earlier in the year and wanted to see them again; finding out that Thurston Moore would be sitting in for part of their show made it a done deal.  Moore had the title of "improvisor in residence" for this year's festival, and was floating in and out of various gigs, in addition to playing his own solo show (which had been the night before at the same time as War on Drugs, so I obviously missed it).  And while I enjoyed their final song with Moore, a fifteen minute free form rocker, the real meat was the first part of their set - it was heavy jams my friends.  They had a thick kraut rock vibe, like a seventies metal band that had listened to a lot of Can.  When you add in the occasional horns I'm kinda lost for a comparison, all I know is it rules and was one of my favorite shows of the whole festival. 

I decided to stick around in that same venue to see some of the next artist, Tony Conrad.  He's apparently a legend in the noise/avant garde/whatever the fuck you call it community.  I'd never heard of the dude but enough people I know were excited about this performance that I decided to see what the fuss was.  He started his set off holding a small framed canvas that was mic'd; he then painted a circle on the front of it, cut out a hole inside the painted circle with a box cutter, and proceeded to run a violin bow in an out of the hole along the cut edge creating squawky sounds.  I don't know if I'd call it music or even good, but I guess I would call it interesting.  He then banged that framed canvas on the ground to create a rough beat that he looped through a sampler, and played noisy violin on top of that.  To be perfectly honest I don't know what the fuck it was I saw, but it held my attention for about fifteen minutes before it was time to move on.  I just don't think I'm ever going to get that world no matter how many times I try. 

I was on a sampler platter tour en route to the Lincoln, and stopped by Tir Na Nog to see what was happening - and that happening was Dark Rooms.  I had talked with frontman Daniel Hart a few times when he toured with the Rosebuds a few years back, but this was my first time witnessing his own band.  I watched a few songs of their, well, "violin indie pop" I guess.  Is that a genre?  Well, it is now.  The music had drums paired with electronic drums, keys, guitar, Daniel on the violin, and lots of catchy harmonies.  The songs were upbeat and almost dancey, and the place was pretty close to packed with folks that seemed really into it - can't say I blamed them.  After a little while I wanted to see what was happening next door though, and off I went. 

What was happening next door was local rapper Big Pooh, formerly of Little Brother.  When I walked in he was covering Nas' "The World Is Yours," which was totally confusing because I don't think I've ever seen a hip hop artist play a cover.  It sounded good though, and it's a great song, so why not?  After that he played what I assume was his solo material, which I've never listened to but want to now after seeing part of this set.  Dude had great stage presence and seemed very personable.
Finally, it was the last show of the night, Sun Kil Moon at the Lincoln Theatre.  To sum it up succinctly: what a clusterfuck.  I could detail the proceedings myself but this Pitchfork news item pretty well sums it up.  He was a prickly asshole from the start, but this isn't new for him.  Part of the crowd were also being dipshits, but I think this is more a function of the venue - the Lincoln is usually a place for raucous behavior, an open room full of heavy drinkers and a very busy bar.  Truthfully, Sun Kil Moon should have been booked elsewhere; that doesn't mean Mark Kozelek wouldn't have still been cock, but maybe it would have lessened the chances.  Mostly, despite the ill will back and forth between the audience and was just boring.  I like his recordings but live it's about as exciting as a dead fish.  I lasted about five songs and left; if this gig had been in a seated venue, there is a strong chance I would have fallen asleep.  Instead, I got in my car and went Snoopy's and got a hot dog, a much better ending to the night than a delicate flower playing morose music. 

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