Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh - 9/11/2015

Hopscotch Music Festival
Downtown Raleigh


I haven't really paid much attention to TV on the Radio since their first record "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes."  For some reason my love of that album never carried over to their other releases...just too much music in the world I guess, and they got lost in the shuffle.  I did see them live around the time that record was released at the tiny Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, and it was a great show.  Seeing them again over a decade later, in this giant city plaza with thousands of's quite a change.  For the thirty or so minutes I watched them perform, I didn't know a single song they played but it sounded great and reminded me I need to listen to some of their other albums.  I'm hoping they played the amazing "Staring at the Sun" at some point, but I was needed elsewhere - I would have gladly stuck around for more had I been able to.  It should also be noted that the white guitarist had a wind chime dangling from the headstock of his guitar.  I felt like everyone needed to know this.

The reason I didn't stick around longer at TVotR?  HeCTA were playing up the street at Neptunes, and they were one my must-sees for the entire festival.  HeCTA is a side project of Kurt Wagner, frontman of one of my all-time favorite bands Lambchop.  It was imperative I get to the club in plenty of time so that I did not miss this set, and I was successful in this endeavor.  The band is mostly electronic with live drum accompaniment and the occasional guitar...and Wagner's vocals of course.  Those vocals aren't delivered in a very straight forward manner though, Kurt seemed to be running them through a litany of knobs and twiddlers and whatnot piled on the table in front of him.  In the most simplistic terms possible, you could just call them Dancechop, because anytime you add his vocals to anything it's gonna sound like some form of Lambchop to this dumdum.  HeCTA have a new record that just dropped (or is about to) on Merge, and if I wasn't looking forward to it before I definitely am now after this performance.

Since I was in the building already, I walked upstairs to Kings to see what was happening.  It was a local rapper named Ace Henderson, a young kid with a big smile who was taking his sweet time taking the stage.  Luckily he ended up being worth the wait...I don't hold the strongest opinions on modern hip hop (understanding fully I'm not the target audience), not so much for the content (I've never much cared about the lyrics regardless of style of music) as I generally just don't like the way the kids rap these days.  Ace seemed to be a step above - had a nice, almost throwback nineties flow but doing it over more modern sounds.  I only caught a few songs, but I was pleasantly surprised and glad I popped up.
(Old man rant: I miss the music of rap in the nineties when it came from records and scratching and lots of jazz samples and goddammit I'm old...hrrrmph.)

My next act was all the way over at Deep South, a quartet from Brooklyn called Pill (good luck finding a website for them with that name, I was not successful).  I didn't know anything about them other than a label connection to Parquet Courts, but it turned out to be a smart decision.  Their music was all over the place, noisey and skronky and punk and weird and oh yeah they had a saxophone going nuts the entire time.  They have a very specific local comparison in Picasso Trigger, a band most people in the Triangle have forgotten, and I'd be extremely shocked if anyone in Pill had heard of them.  For their last song, the band Guardian Alien joined them on stage for an all out musical assault that ended with the bassist detaching all of the strings from the headstock and swinging the bass around by them.  Most importantly, this band had the best collection of awesomely bad, probably-homemade tattoos that I've ever seen - the highlights were "Free WiFi," "Pobody's Nerfect," and a really (probably intentionally) shaky Garfield that read "I Love Mondays."

I made it over to CAM in time to catch the last couple of songs by Moon Duo...who are now a trio?  I guess it's been a little while since I've seen them, not that it has really changed their sound - the drums are just live now.  The music is still incredibly repetitive in the best Krautrock sort of way, with sparse vocals and an ability to put anyone into a trance.  To no surprise they were playing in the dark with some projections playing over them, aka I got a bunch of shit photos.  I would have seen more of their set but I had to wait in quite a line to get into CAM, only to finally enter and see that the place was maybe 3/4ths full.  Thanks for making us all wait outside for no reason doorman!

The closer for the evening, Roky Erickson, is someone I've wanted to see for a long, long time.  He might be getting pretty old, and his young supporting band seemed to be carrying most of the weight musically, but his voice and songs are still on point so it was worth the wait.  The up side is by the time he came on I had weaseled myself into a great spot; the down side is I was six plus hours into rock music this evening, and fading fast.  I stuck it out for quite a while - not long enough to get to "Two Headed Dog" way at the bottom of his long set list, unfortunately, but I did hear him tacle 13th Floor Elevator's "I've Got Levitation" and that was a treat.  After that, it was a long walk back to the more long day to go. 

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