Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh - 9/10/2015

Hopscotch Music Festival
Downtown Raleigh

These old legs might be a year older and there might be a fresh baby at home, but Hopscotch doesn't care...gotta get out there if you wanna rock n' roll.

This year would begin with Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who were headlining the first night at City Plaza.  A strange choice (in my opinion) to play as the main band on an outdoor stage, but there were enough people waiting to see them that clearly there was demand.  Their instrumental post-apocalyptic post-rock was the perfect accompaniment for the storm that was rolling in...and then about 15 or 20 minutes into their set, the sky unloaded.  Most of the crowd scattered except for a few hardcores; I found an eave to stand under that blocked some of the precipitation, but with the wind blowing there was really no hiding from it.  I stuck it out for a few more minutes, but I'm just not a big enough fan to sit through a thunderstorm for them.  They really need to play seated venues anyways - if the whole band gets to sit down, I want to sit down too!

The closest venue is the Lincoln Theatre, which worked out nicely since that was my next destination anyways.  I hadn't planned on seeing Some Army, but with the rain throwing a wrench they make a pretty great consolation prize.  I'm never exactly sure how to describe a band like this - they have a big, "adult" pop sound, the sort of band that would be getting radio airplay and having the majors fight over them if it was 20 or 30 years ago.  The sort of pop where the songs aren't instantly catchy, but they worm their way into your brain after a couple of listens.   They played with the lights off and a projection shining on them, which led to a few decent and lots of bad photos, as tends to happen.

Mac McCaughan is why the Lincoln was my destination to begin with - when he plays, whether solo or in one of his bands, I try my damnedest to be there.  I don't particularly have anything new to say about someone I've seen live dozens upon dozens of time, but as always he was great.  Flesh Wounds has been his backing band for a while now, and it's working out royally - very tight and with it.  One major difference from his other "solo" shows I've seen is there were no Superchunk or Portastatic songs in the set at all, just tracks from his new album.  The only exception was the final two tracks of the show - covers of "Teenage Eyes" by Spider Bags, and "NC Royalty" by Antiseen, with Mac acting like a hardcore singer for the latter.  All eight people in attendance who know who Antiseen is were eating it up.  

I made my way up to Kings to see Wildhoney, and by the time I got in the club they played about 20 seconds before ending their set.  I wasn't even that late, apparently they only played about 20-25 minutes.  People said they sounded exactly like My Bloody Valentine, and that was certainly what that 20 seconds I heard sounded like.  Maybe I can catch a whole minute or more of them live next time they come through town.   

Local band Dad & Dad played next.  They played nearly in the dark (what is with this trend?) which didn't make my camera happy, but musicians are gonna musician.  I don't really know shit about them other than they have some connection to T0W3RS, which was reason enough to see what they were all about.  I would best describe them as theatrical pop like Of Montreal - not that they sound like Of Montreal, just that their style reminded me of the same over-the-top, almost musical theater-like vibe.  I'm honestly not sure how I felt about it overall, but it did hold my attention for a little while. 

I popped into the Pour House to see Fórn pretty much only because I just happened to be walking by the club and had a bit of free time.  They are a doom metal five piece from Boston, with two dudes who looked totally metal, and the other three who looked like they would be more at home in a NYC hardcore band circa 1988.  Then again I know a bunch of metal dudes personally who have that same look, so maybe I just need ot update what my idea of a metal look is.  The music was rad - heavy and sludgy and thick, but as always I could do without the growling vocals.  That's not really a problem with this band per se, more just my personal hang up with this type of metal.  I dig the rest of the music so much though that I can deal with it. 

Outside of Mac, Lydia Loveless was probably my most anticipated set of the night.  She was right next door at Tir Na Nog, and after a bit of a delayed start she more or less burned the place down.  I knew very little of her going in, but left a huge fan.  A friend described her as "Lucinda Williams fronting the Replacements," and I'm just going to steal that because I can't think of anything better.  Her voice is...perfect.  As is her giant Elephant Man tattoo on her right arm.  As soon as I got home I instantly grabbed her last two records online, and I look forward to listening to them on repeat for the next few months. 

Lydia was never going to be topped, but I decided to pop back in to the Lincoln Theatre to see a bit of Battles.  The place was packed, more packed than I've ever seen that venue - it was uncomfortable and smelled like a sauna that hadn't been cleaned in five years.  I had totally forgotten that Ian Williams (formerly) of Don Caballero was in Battles, but I recognized his armpit-high guitar playing instantly.  They were fun to watch for two or three songs, but their brand of funky carnival/calliope music has never really been my bag.  They sound the way a Chapman stick looks.  I was clearly in the minority though based on the crowd reaction, or maybe they're all Chapman stick fans.   Whatever, I went outside and ate some Pie Pushers slices and went home a happy man. 

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