Hopscotch 2019, Day Two in downtown Raleigh - 9/6/2019

Hopscotch Music Festival – Day 2
Featuring Jenny Lewis, GG King, and Nest Egg
Downtown Raleigh

And now for the most highly anticipated performance of the entire festival: Jenny Lewis headlining City Plaza on the second night of the festival.  That feeling of excitement was somewhat bittersweet though – Purple Mountains were scheduled to open, and I was just as if not more excited to finally see David Berman live.  Unfortunately, that bastard called suicide reared its ugly head and Berman is now no longer of this Earth.  As they prepared the stage for Lewis, the (excellent) self-titled Purple Mountain’s album that came out a few months ago played over the sound system…possibly as tribute, or maybe just to remind everyone that he’s still here with us – if not physically, at least musically.  I hope Berman has now found his peace – the world is certainly better off for him having existed and sharing his art.

Back to Jenny – she came on stage rocking a gold, full-length glittery dress with fur cuffs, and gave a performance that shined even brighter than her outfit.  There was a seven-piece backing band, including a couple of folks on strings and the same Jonah Hill-looking guitarist as last time I saw her, one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Dude just sits back for most of the song until it’s time for the lead, and then plays the cleanest, most buttery lines you could ever want.  She played pretty much her entire new record “On The Line,” plus a smattering of classics and for some reason a lite reggae version of “The Voyager.”  Towards the end of the set she took a moment for some kind words directed at David Berman before dedicating the always fantastic “Born Secular” to him.  As if the show wasn’t spectacular already, she closed out the night by bringing former bandmates the Watson Twins on stage for the last three songs – they were also in town performing at Hopscotch.  A woman standing next to me exclaimed “Wow, they’re actually twins!,” which gave me a chuckle.  I’m not sure how often Jenny performs with the pair anymore, but it felt like a special treat and I was glad to witness it.  Nothing short of death or dismemberment will ever keep me from a Jenny Lewis show, and I’d suggest everyone adopt my same policy.

To be perfectly honest, I contemplated just going home after that performance.  Who the hell can follow that?  It’s almost like coming down off of a drug high, and nothing else is going to make you feel as good as that first hit.  I went to Kings anyways, and after a bit of a clusterfuck with the entrance lines I made it inside and watched a good chunk of GG King.  His music is pretty straight-forward, slightly aggro punk, exactly what you might expect from the former singer of Atlanta legends the Carbonas.  I’ve witnessed this formula many times before, and while it might not be particularly groundbreaking or noteworthy, I pretty much always enjoy a punk gig of this ilk.  It just wasn't necessarily what I wanted to hear right now.  

Hopscotch has been using Wicked Witch as a venue for a couple of years, but this was my first time attending a show there – it’s a nice room, but holy fuck is it a haul from the rest of the central downtown clubs.  If you're walking, you gotta really want to go there.  In theory Nest Egg would have been worth it, had their set proceeded in any sort of reasonable fashion.  It sounded fine when they were playing, but a litany of technical issues meant they weren’t playing much.  The singer/guitarist kept talking to the crowd (or maybe the sound person), but there was so much reverb on the vocals you couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying.   This was my second time seeing the band, but this time there was only one drummer – so I’m not sure if they were short a drummer on this night, or had an extra one last time...I suppose I'll need to watch them a third time to get a tiebreaker.  I preferred their distorto-kraut rock sound more with two drummers, but who doesn't prefer two drummers over one?  It’s literally twice as much drumming!  You can’t argue with math.  For the icing on the cake, the band was only lit by a strobe light, and that got old really fast.  It certainly was terrible for photos, but more importantly it just made my head hurt.  I would still recommend Nest Egg, but not this particular performance.  After a couple of songs (and even more down time), I left the club and made the long walk back to my car, thoughts of Jenny Lewis dancing in my head.