Hopscotch Music Festival
We've hit the home stretch - the final night of Hopscotch. I kicked my evening off with MC50, which was a supergroup comprised of the only suriving member of MC5, Wayne Kramer, and a rotating cast of well-known musicians assisting him. On this night he had Brendan Canty (Fugazi) on drums, Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar, Billy Gould (Faith No More) on bass, and Rob Tyner doppelganger Marcus Durant (Zen Guerrilla) doing most of the vocals. They performed the classic MC5 album "Kick Out The Jams" in it's entirety (plus maybe more in the encore that I missed). Like the Revolution the night before, did it feel like I was watching a cover band? It did, as I honestly expected it to. Was it still goddamn enjoyable? It sure was. Clearly, the musicianship was off the charts with this group, and how can you not be happy hearing "Kick Out The Jams" played live?
After a while I moved up to Slims to see some of Karaoke, out of Atlanta. Have fun trying to google that band name. A five piece with a female singer that reminded me of Sloane from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," I'm pretty sure I fell in love with her and I'm quite certain I wasn't alone. They too were on that swirly 90s indie pop vibe that so many of the young kids seem into these days, which I'm totally fine with for the record. To bring up a reference I seem to make at least once a year (if not more these days), if this band existed in 1995 they would have definitely been signed to Teenbeat. I was definitely intrigued and would like to hear their recordings, and are worth checking out if you get a chance.
From there I moved down to the Pour House and ended up catching the last couple of songs by Nicolay And The Hot At Nights. I know the Hot At Nights (though the one dude who is also in the Mountain Goats is on tour with them and not able to be in two places at once), and apparently Nicolay works with local rapper Phonte, but I wasn't sure what to expect from the collaboration. The overall vibe was a little too...jazz fusion for my tastes, but at the same time everyone on the stage was so goddamn talented it was still interesting to watch them practice their craft.
I was on the fence about going to the Yonatan Gat show at all. Praise be to whatever god or flying spaghetti monster it was convinced me to stay at the Pour House to see the former Monotonix frontman, because it was probably my favorite performance of the entire festival. It's days later and I still can't stop thinking about it. Yonatan was backed by a bassist and drummer, and the music was (mostly) an instrumental swirl of jazz, surf, garage and a little Middle Eastern flair that words will never, ever do justice. It was heavy but not metal, and repetitively hypnotizing without going fully into krautrock territory. Monotonix were always known for their insane performances, not the musicianship, so I was doubly impressed to see how goddamn amazing Gat was on guitar - a double-necked 12+6 string white Epiphone SG for the record, that was completely bad ass. I was nonplussed by his latest full-length, because it sure as shit didn't sound like this, but this show has me wanting to revisit anyways just to experience even a small amount of this amazing show again.
I trucked down to the Lincoln Theatre, my final venue of this year's festival, to see the last few from Sarah Shook And The Disarmers. This gal has been getting a lot of buzz this past year, and that showed from how packed the venue was. I assumed at least some of that crowd was people there early for the Jayhawks, but the amount that left after she finished proved she was clearly the draw (also, those people who left early are idiots). Sarah plays straight-forward, ass kickin', old fashioned honky tonk country - no preening, no hipster bullshit, just songs like "The Bottle Never Lets Me Down" and "Nothin' Feels Right But Doin' Wrong." Hell, she wears a knife on her hip during the concert, this is a woman who is not here for any bullshit. Side note: the locally famous John Howie is in her band - he's probably best known for being in Two Dollar Pistols, but to me he'll always be from the still underrated Finger.
Finally, the Jayhawks, the last band of Hopscotch. They were also one of my most anticipated bands of the festival, being the only act that I was already a big fan of that I had never seen live. How I've never seen them I have no idea, it's just one of those weird things like the fact I've never seen a James Bond movie - it doesn't have to make sense to be true. I was shocked to learn that band frontman Gary Louris had recently moved to Gibsonville, which is in the middle of nowhere in the vicinity of Greensboro - who even knew moving there was something anyone would ever want to do! Key member Mark Olson might be gone, but they sounded as good as ever - the long set list was packed with basically every "hit" song you might ever want from them..."Blue," "Tailspin," "Save It For a Rainy Day," etc. Unlike the other "nostalgia" acts they might get lumped with at Hopscotch, the Jayhawks are still an active, working band, and also played plenty of their most recent excellent release "Back Roads And Abandoned Motels." After (shockingly) lasting the entire duration of their very late set, it was time to put this event and myself to bed.
Until next year! Man, I'm already tired thinking about it.