Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hopscotch Friday Night (9/5/14)

I only did two nights (and one long day) of Raleigh's annual Hopscotch Music Festival this year.  As usual, it was packed with a wide variety of great national and international acts... but with a ton of room set aside for local/regional bands.  If you read this blog, you know the latter (usually in the indie/punk/pop vein) are the bands I gravitate towards, so my Hopscotch experience was guided by that.  But my Saturday menu (from which I'll post appetizers and entrees later) also included some country, electronic, and brass.

I started the night with the marquee names at City Plaza, Spoon and St. Vincent.  Although I missed the local opener, the incredible Lonnie Walker, they graciously made up for it by playing a late-scheduled set just below where I was having my lunch the next day!  Such are the days at Hopscotch.

I was really looking forward to Spoon, having last seen them more than a few years ago when they opened for Archers of Loaf on that band's last tour (before their recent resurrection).  I've loved them ever since.  As little as they tour, I secretly wished they would end up being one of the headliners this year.  My wish was granted, and they lived up to it.  For a massive catalog that's been consistently great, they played most of what you'd want to hear, with a decent dose from the new They Want My Soul (Rent I Pay, Inside Out, Do You).  Among my favorites that they played:  Got Nuffin, Beast and Dragon Adored, I Turn My Camera On, Don't Make Me a Target, the Underdog, and more.  I was pleased they played the slower Black Like Me near the end... beautiful song.

While I'm not as familiar with the music of St. Vincent, I was looking forward to it, having liked what little I had heard.  Annie Clark is the real deal.  Although some think her persona affected and music too off-kilter, I found her very genuine and a complete original.  And she can wail on guitar!  Sounds like she's as influenced by classic rockers such as Rush and (early) Yes as newer wavers like Pylon and Talking Heads.  Whatever influences glom together in her brain to make music, the performance was simply stunning.  She's a lightning rod onstage; energetic and interesting to watch.  And her genuine nature could be seen in the way she addressed the crowd... and the way she spent time in the middle of the night talking to local musicians (so said the members of Free Clinic, one of Saturday's highlights from the day parties).

I don't normally enjoy larger venue (i.e., outdoor, arena) shows, preferring the intimacy and visceral energy of a club show.  But this night was an exception, as both bands proved they can hold the masses enraptured.

Spoon (at City Plaza)... sorry, no good photos of St. Vincent (but there are many elsewhere)
After the big outdoor show, I trudged over to CAM (Contemporary Arts Center) on the edge of downtown to catch a favorite, Raleigh's GHOSTT BLLONDE.  Marc Kuzio and company clearly enjoyed the massive space, which has held some of the better Hopscotch shows in the past.  Their 50's-vibin' trashpop melodies had the large crowd dancing, and growing as the show went on.

Hopscotch characters seen on the way to the next show...
One of the non-local acts I wanted to see was Palehound.  This New York-based quartet are young, but you wouldn't know it from the polished playing and songwriting.  Their melancholic indie-punk edge was reminiscent of darker stuff by the Breeders, with maybe a bit of Angel Olsen in the vocals, which were very nice.

Palehound (at Slim's)
Zack Mexico is one of my favorite North Carolina bands, hailing from way out on the Outer Banks.  The lines at Deep South were long (all weekend), but it was worth it to get in for about half of their set.  With St. Vincent, these two were a tie for the second best set at Hopscotch (that I saw, anyway).  Their weird, psych-surf-jammy meld is just pure, distilled, rock'n'roll energy... intense yet fun.  Seldom do I enjoy a song that goes on for longer than 7 or 8 minutes.  But later on this blog, I'll post a 10-minute smoker that they closed with.  Stunning set (even just the half).

Zack Mexico (at Deep South)
After yet another trek across downtown (pant! pant! pant!), I chose to close the night in the shotgun establishment that is Slim's for a packed show from the highly recommended Potty Mouth.  They're from Massachusetts, and these four go back to old school with a wild (and also a little surfy) punk rawk sound, but a poppiness and humor that makes you think they could be from the opposite coast; Portland ca 1990 or SoCal ca 1980.  I'm glad I opted for this rather than go have my delicate sentiments offended by some house painter at an opera house.  Instead, Potty Mouth provided a fun close to Hopscotch Friday night.

Potty Mouth (at Slim's)
Saturday day party, and Saturday night show photos to come soon, as well as a few more videos (T0W3RS video posted yesterday).

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