Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hopscotch Music Festival - Friday Night (9/9/16)

This night of Hopscotch Music Festival was centered around CAM Raleigh for me.  Others have complained about the sound at CAM, and it is a bit hollow.  But I just think it's made for a great setting when I've seen bands there at prior Hopscotches (can you pluralize that?).  Plus, I was really looking forward to this particular line-up.

The large room was eerily empty before the show...
But it would fill up fast before the first band, Carrboro's Wyrms, took the stage, and stay packed for the duration of the three consecutive sets I watched.  The Wyrms haven't played much lately, thanks to the addition of a little baby grub :), but they haven't missed a step.  Loud, tight, garage-y goodness oozed from the stage.

The Wyrms take the stage...
I set my Friday night sights on CAM mostly to see the Wyrms and Car Seat Headrest.  But the band in between, Beach Slang, sounded okay online.  Plus, many friends, including some who were in the middle of touring with them, said they were not to be missed.  I was glad I stayed.  Singer James Alex channeled Paul Westerberg's voice and Pete Townsend's moves for almost an hour, with a little emo thrown in for good measure.  Very energetic show, a lotta fun to watch.

Beach Slang...
Car Seat Headrest... I admit I only discovered this band in listening prep for Hopscotch (despite the vaunted dozen or so bandcamp releases in the 5 years leading up to their Matador signing).  And I really shouldn't like them.  Will Toledo looks about 17, and as far as subject matter, sings about the life of someone that age or not much older.  Yeah.  But he does it with an old soul and a poetry not often seen in this type of music.  I'm not a lyrics guy, but it's hard not to notice lyrics like "In the back of a medicine cabinet / You can find your life story / And your future in the side effects."

The music was great, too.  I read a write-up that described this show as very much about nostalgia, recalling to the 90s "indie guitar" era.  I was big into that shit, but I just didn't hear it.  Sure they're in that general mode.  If anything, more '70s-'80s NY art-punk a bit.  But they didn't sound derivative at all to me live (or on Teens of Denial, for that matter).  While the show started very quietly -- almost folky -- it didn't stay that way for long.  Despite the punk outbursts, though, Car Seat Headrest are never afraid to rein it in, dispensing as needed.  They've got the kind of tense restraint and release of an early Versus.  Car Seat Headrest's live show only confirmed for me that this kid's a real original.  This music's going to be remembered for years to come.

Oh, one thing might be kind of derivative, if unintentionally.  Toledo looks for all the world like a very young Conor Oberst.

Conor Oberst with his first band, Commander Venus (Sluggo's in Pensacola ~1996; he was about 16 years old)...
Car Seat Headrest (CAM Raleigh 2016; tell me I'm wrong)...

I could've stayed for Twin Peaks, who I'm sure were good (though I heard they threw a mic stand and hit some kid in the head, apologizing profusely afterwards!).  I also thought about going around the corner to deep South for Diet Cig, who were on my short list to see.  But between the day parties and these CAM shows, I had just about had my fill of the indie/guitar rock.  Plus, I felt guilty that, as a NOLA native, I had never seen Big Freedia before.  I was listening to her raps in Galactic's music and some really cool NOLA remixes years ago, and telling people up here all about the "sissy bounce"  trend down there (I think it's pretty much just merged into bounce now).

Although there was a huge line at Lincoln Theatre when I got there, it moved quickly and I managed to see about half the show.  Freedia invited audience members onstage to "shake that azz," and many did.  Between raps, members of Freedia's entourage showed off their own acrobatic moves, much more impressive than run-of-the-mill twerkin'.  It was as much party as concert.  I got the feeling it would have been more fun in a different setting though.  Maybe a smaller club (Lincoln's almost as big a setting as I can really enjoy a show anyway), and with a more diverse crowd... a little surprised that it was just about all white hands reaching up at the stage.  But it's great that she's reaching a larger audience.  I while this show was just with a DJ (and the dancers), I hear she'll be touring soon with a full band.  THAT should be fun.

Big Freedia...
Up next, Saturday day and night:   Zack Mexico, ET Anderson, Downtown Boys, et al.  Maybe I'll get those posted by the time next year's Phuzz Phest is coming up. :p

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alien Murder-Skittles

So Donald Trump, Jr., in a now-infamous tweet comparing Syrian refugees to the delicious candy Skittles, says three Syrian refugees out of a handful will “kill you.”  Setting aside the racist undertones of the entire idea, that seems a mite high.  So let’s look at some numbers, shall we?

First, I doubt if enough time has passed since we started letting in Syrian refugees in particular (with already “extreme vetting”, I should point out) to accumulate any usable crime statistics.  But regarding immigrants and crime, conservatives are fond of throwing around one number:  121.  That’s the number of number of unauthorized immigrants released from custody pending deportation, who were later charged with murder between 2010 and 2014.  This comes from Department of Homeland Security figures (apparently involving 121 individual homicides).  This equates to roughly 0.00001 of the total estimated number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. 

Now let’s say a “handful” of skittles equals half of a 2 oz. bag… about 25 skittles.  Three out of 25 = 0.12.

I’m confused.  Is it 0.00001 or 0.12?  Are 12% of immigrants going to kill me, or is it less than 1/10,000th of that?  Help me, Don! 

Of course, this is just immigrants released from custody who were later charged with murder.  I must admit I don’t have data on immigrants who were NOT detained and then released who were later charged with murder.  But I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess this wouldn’t change the numbers by four orders of magnitude. 

So 0.00001 of unauthorized immigrants are ones who have been released from custody and later charged with murder (between 2010 and 2014).  Conservatively assuming they were all guilty, this means that the risk of being murdered by this potential population was about 1 in 100,000.  Now, looking at FBIcrime statistics from 2013, there were 14,249 murders in the U.S. that year.  This equates to 4.5 murders per 100,000 people in the U.S.  

By my admittedly rough calculations, it seems you are 4 to 5 times LESS likely to be murdered by unauthorized immigrant than you already are just by anyone in the total population of the U.S. now (citizen or immigrant).  Maybe we should let MORE immigrants in.  Maybe it could bring down the murder rate!

And maybe alien murder-skittles are really just human beings trying to make a better life.

Hopscotch Music Festival - Friday Day Parties (9/9/16)

On the second day of Raleigh's Hopscotch Music Festival, I hung close to the west side of town for the day parties.  I was staying at an AirBnB in Boylan Heights, so this gave me a chance to freshen up (i.e., shower, nap) before another long night of shows.  As I posted earlier, it's all about the pacing.  Plus the west side of town leaned indie rock that day, which is fine by me.

The first set I caught was Greensboro's the Kneads, at Crank Arm Brewing Company. They've added a fourth member and filled out their sound.  Nice taste of jerky stop-starts, with a side of LOUD, to get me going for the day.

The Kneads...
Then just across the street, at Boxcar Bar + Arcade, I wanted to catch my third -- yes third -- set of the weekend by Secret Guest.  Having seen them in three totally different settings (house show, big club, daytime outdoors on a patio) on successive days, I can verify that they brought it each time.  Slight disappointment this time in that they didn't have quite as much room to jump around; made up for the fact that their end-of-set physical implosion was all that tighter. :)  They had their own secret guest in singer Hunter Park from She Returns from War, who played the Boxcar day party earlier.

Secret Guest...

Just outside on Commerce Place was the Hopscotch Makers Market, with it's own day party.  I just caught the tail end of Palm, who I had seen warm up the crowd for the Snails the night before.  Then I took in See Gulls for the second day in a row.  Yeah, a lotta repetition in my Hopscotch scheduling this year.  But this was special, because it was the last show for Duncan Webster and Leah Gibson with the band.  Check out their own band, Beauty World, who'll be having a release show for their EP, Joypop Turbo, at the Carrack in Durham on October 8th.  

See Gulls...
Closed out my stint of day parties by popping back to the Baxter next door (after a few games of Frogger), seeing a local band I'd never seen, the Affectionates.  They make indie pop with a big stride and a nod to the traditional, banjo and violin weighing in heavily.  Come to think of it, that's the second band I saw in two days to rock the banjo, the previous being the afore-mentioned Beauty World.  Can be tricky, but I love it when it works (it did both times).  Affectionates are a bar band in the best sense of that phrase.  Nice harmonies, too.  

The Affectionates...
So, um, I've still got a ton of Boxcar tokens if anybody needs some.  The music was just too good... plus Frogger was giving free credits!  

Next, I'll post about Friday night; great line-up at CAM + Big Freedia at Lincoln Theater!