You’ve already read my recap of the first night of Hopscotch 2013. You might also follow my personal twitter account, which I kept updated throughout the festival. You might be a subscriber to my brand new This is That Song YouTube channel. Now, it’s time for my detailed account of my second day at the festival.
Just as I did last year, I woke up early on the middle day of the festival to go watch the Carolina Hurricanes participate in an informal workout. Training camp doesn’t officially open until this week, but some of the boys have been skating together for a couple of weeks. They’re not allowed to have contact with the coaches or trainers, and they rent the ice time themselves. For many years, this pre-camp was colloquially known as “Camp Brind’Amour”. When NHL legend and longtime Hurricane Rod Brind’Amour was still playing, he was known for his fanatical approach to fitness, and he was the guy who took charge of these workouts. After he hung up his skates, little Chad LaRose stepped into his role of taking charge of the informal workouts. Since LaRose is no longer with the team, the new guy in charge is defenseman Jay Harrison. “Camp Harry”, I guess. So I watched the boys skate and scrimmage for an hour and a half, went back to the hotel for a little while, then headed downtown for some of the day parties.
“Day parties” at Hopscotch are awesome. Some of the bands who are already on the bill play daytime shows, or maybe they take the opportunity to play solo shows or do some weird stuff. Some bands who aren’t on the bill play shows, and there’s always been a lot of collaborative shows. This year certainly featured a lot of that. The day party shows don’t require a wristband or ticket or anything like that. So it’s a good opportunity for people to see some free music. And of course, it’s a great chance to do some day drinking.
I didn’t really have a plan for the Friday day parties. I wanted to try to see Thurston Moore (from Sonic Youth), who was playing a solo show during the day party. He wasn’t on the main Hopscotch lineup card, and that odd middle of the afternoon show was his only scheduled appearance. I kind of wandered around for a while, ate some barbecue, drank a couple of beers, and ended up at King’s. I spent a lot of time there during the Hopscotch12 day parties, so I thought I’d go back up there. I don’t know who was playing when I got there, but I ran into some friends (one of whom I had never actually met in person), and a new acquaintance. They convinced me to head over to the Contemporary Art Museum with them to see local metal band Valiant Thorr play. I’m not into metal at all, but because one of the guys described them as “a punk band who doesn’t take themselves too seriously”, I was intrigued.
We went down to see Valiant Thorr, where I ran into an old friend from college. It was nice to be around friends who I’ve known for varying lengths of time ranging from 20 minutes to 20 years.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, metal isn’t “my thing”. At all. I kind of despise metal. My friend was right, though. They don’t take themselves overly seriously, and they put on a very entertaining show. Later on, a different friend likened a Valiant Thorr show to a GWAR show. Not that the two bands sound alike. Just that they put on an entertaining show that even a non-fan can enjoy. He said something like “You don’t go to a GWAR show because you like GWAR. You go because they’re entertaining as hell.”
After that, those guys went to do something else, and I went to try to catch some of the Thurston Moore set. It was one in/one out at King’s, and I didn’t really want to stand there on the sidewalk waiting, so I sat down for a while before heading over to City Plaza for the big show.
I wasn’t interested at all in the big act that night, but I wanted to see local garage pop band Gross Ghost, who were first on the bill. I liked them enough, but didn’t think that there was anything to write home about.
My friends convinced me that I wouldn’t want to miss Future Islands, who are local boys currently living in Baltimore. I don’t know how to describe them. Synth-y pop with a bit of soul and I don’t know what. While other people claimed that it was the best set of the whole festival, it just wasn’t up my alley. I stuck around for most of their set, then headed over to Kings.
I was kind of blown away by those few minutes, which I only caught by accident. Incredible, really.
Of course I stuck around for the Black Zinfandel set. They were really good. On any given night, I might have said that it was a happy last-minute choice. But the Thurston Moore/Merzbow set overshadowed it.
From there, I headed over to Berkeley, where I spent most of the rest of my night. I had a bit of interest in seeing Raleigh indie pop/dream-pop band WOOL, but the biggest draw of the night for me was Houses, who were the third band on the Berkeley bill that night. I had no real interest in seeing Rose Windows, who played between WOOL and Houses. However, since Berkeley is such a small, narrow place, my decision to stay put had more to do with securing a spot for Houses than anything else. And it turned out to be wise. I was running on fumes all night, and it was nice not to have to walk anymore.
WOOL really impressed me. I liked them way more than I thought I would. They remind me of the dreamy, jangle-y Brit-pop from the mid 1990s. Before it was ruined by bands who care more about image than substance. They were probably the biggest surprise of the festival for me. I hope to see more of them sometime soon.
Rose Windows is one of Sub Pop’s new babies. They are what they are. A whole lot of Seattle kids who looked like they just stepped out of 1977. Psychedelic stoner rock. I don’t have much of an interest in that genre, and while I didn’t exactly dislike their set, it’s not the kind of thing I would pay money for.Houses was up next, and they were probably the band that I was most excited to see. That’s including The Breeders and Low. I simply can’t get enough of their new album A Quiet Darkness.
As the kids from Houses unpacked their gear, set up their laptops and their MIDI controllers, it was clear that something wasn’t right. Whether there was something wrong with the club’s electrical system or something wrong with the software on Dexter’s laptop, they couldn’t get their rig to work properly. They were supposed to start at 11:00, but they didn’t actually play until almost 11:45. Despite the long delay and a few other technical problems, they still sounded great, and I stayed for every minute of their set. Plus a few minutes after they were done just to say hello.
That long delay meant that I really had to haul ass over to Kennedy Theater to catch the last little bit of Waxahatchee. She was really high on my list, and if everything had gone according to schedule, I would have seen about 40 minutes of her set. As it played out, I only caught two songs. The band sounded fantastic, but I was really disappointed that I missed the bulk of her set. As an aside, I was also hoping to catch a bit of her twin sister’s set. While Katie Crutchfield is the front of Waxahatchee, twin sister Allison Crutchfield is the front of Swearin’, who played earlier in the night. I had to opt out of Swearin’ because it would have meant leaving Berkeley after WOOL just to catch a bit of the Swearin’ set, and then turn right around and go several blocks back to Berkeley.
After the Waxahatchee set, I had a notion to go back over to King’s to watch the end of Pere Ubu’s set, which was supposed to be followed by a collaborative set with Merzbow. I saw Pere Ubu once in 1992, when they opened for Pixies. It was painfully loud. That’s all I remember about the show. I don’t know their music, but I knew that it would be pretty amazing to see Merzbow hit the stage with them. As I was walking there, I changed my mind and called it a night.
When I got back to the hotel, it was about 1:30 in the morning, and I tweeted about backing out of my attempt to see Pere Ubu/Merzbow. Minutes later, a total stranger tweeted back at me “Pere Ubu isn’t even close to being done with their regular set”. And I knew that I had made the right choice to hit the sack.
I went at it pretty hard with seeing a lot of bands on Friday. I had eight bands on my “short list” that night, and I only saw half of them, but I did see five others for a total of nine. I wouldn’t say that I drank a lot of beer, but I wouldn’t say that I drank “just a few” either. I did, for the record, stop drinking early enough in the night to ensure that I was safe to drive.
Although I did a lot of walking around on Friday, I also did a lot of stopping and sitting down. I ate enough, and I somehow managed to stay hydrated. This would not be the case on Saturday.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the “Day Three” update, and maybe the “Mac and Cheese” update. Later this week, look for the special post about “the incident”.