Friday was the second day of Hopscotch, and it was filled with lots of great music, lots of great food, some surprises and a couple of disappointments.
I woke up to finish some writing, had some shitty complimentary breakfast at the hotel, then went to watch the Carolina Hurricanes have an informal practice. I always do this during Hopscotch. Then back to the hotel for a shower and a bunch of prep.
I’ve been wanting to check out Oak City Meatball Shoppe, which is only a block or so outside the Hopscotch footprint. Before I got started with my day party stuff, I had some lunch there, and it was good.
As is the case with every music festival, there were a few lineup changes, and some of them took place at the last minute. One of those changes was that Owen Pallett had a family emergency and had to cancel his appearance here. He was going to be the “improviser in residence” which means that in addition to a normal show, he was going to do a bunch of collaborative and improvisational sets with other scheduled artists. Most of that stuff takes place during the day party stuff. In Pallett’s place, the festival got drummer Greg Fox to step in. He’s from the black metal band Liturgy. I really don’t like black metal, but this guy is good.The first thing I saw was a collaboration between Fox and the ambient/dream/electronic musician Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. They played just one “song”, which was a 20 minute piece in which Fox just annihilated his kit while Cantu-Ledesma provided some fuzz, squeaks and white noise. It was pretty amazing. The next day party show that I went to was another performance by Mamiffer. I liked their set so much on Thursday night that I wanted to take in another. It was as good, or maybe better the second time around. Same thing. Deep, dark noise. You feel it in your eyes. If you’re not ready for it, you’re probably offended and annoyed. A couple of people had wandered in there not knowing what to expect, and that was quite a shock to them. Next up was Elisa Ambrogio, who was doing a collaborative set with Tashi Dorji. Again, it was improvisational. Creative and weird. I had no predictions about how that set was going to go. I’ve never heard Tashi Dorji, and only a little bit of Elisa Ambrogio. Still, this was different from anything I might have expected. “Acidjack” from NYCTaper was there to capature the performance. Those are his mics in my picture. Go here to hear the recording.
By this time it was about 4, and I had some plans to see a couple of other day party things, but I ended up not doing any of them. Just a lot of walking around, a few beers, and a lot of water.
In the dead time between the end of the day parties and the start of the City Plaza show, I went to Beasley’s for some food. The chicken is great and the mac and cheese is completely amazing.
After some more time-killing, I finally headed over to City Plaza. I had no interest in the first band, Tycho wasn’t on my radar, but I just wanted to get in there early to secure an excellent spot for TV on The Radio. The local band played a set that I didn’t pay much attention to. They were sort of a soul/funk type thing. If they played a couple of songs at your friend’s wedding, you might think they’re pretty good. Not my cup of tea, though.Next up was Tycho. Again, they weren’t on my radar. Their blend of really accessible indie rock and electronics makes nice music for the masses. As one guy put it on Twitter, “One day, Tycho is gonna soundtrack one hell of a Diet Coke ad”. Or Bud Light. Whatever. They’re not offensive, they’re not bad. They just don’t excite me. During their set, they kept overloading the circuits, and they lost power two separate times. Which means that TVOTR got delayed a bit. Finally, TVOTR came on. I’d never seen them before. I have a few of their records, and while I’m not a die-hard fan, I was looking forward to this more than anything else on the Friday roster. They’ve got much more stage presence than I was anticipating. Tunde and Kyp both bounced all over the place. I wouldn’t say that either of them is a phenomenal singer, but they hold their own, and what they may lack in pure skill, Tunde makes up for with charisma and Kyp makes up for with his guitar. I really enjoyed their set, and they really enjoyed the audience. Plus it’s been cool that those guys have been walking around downtown Raleigh all weekend long, taking in what the festival has to offer. Every time I turn around, I see one of them crossing the street.
Things kind of went pear-shaped after the City Plaza show. But it wasn’t a total loss.
I headed over to The Hive because I wanted to catch some part of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s set. I got there a little early to find that Greg Fox was playing. That wasn’t on the original schedule, but since I saw him earlier in the day, I knew that he was going to do something special. And he did. All he had with him was a snare drum, and somehow, he was putting on a badass show with just that. After a bit, he started doing something that completely had me in awe. He rigged his drum to trigger electronic sounds. Different sounds from different parts of the drum. It was really wild, and I loved it. As is always the case with the super-narrow The Hive, if you aren’t at the very front, you can’t see a thing. Luckily, they have a video monitor behind the bar. So I watched the set that way.
That ran a little long, and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma was supposed to start at 11, but didn’t start until about 11:15. He had some bassist with him who I feel like I should have recognized, but I didn’t. I watched the first song, which sounded a lot like something that would have been on Disintegration. I liked it a lot, but I had to go because I really wanted to see Mitski at 11:30 at Tir Na Nog. I walked over there, and it was already at capacity with both VIP and normal person lines stretching 20 deep. I knew there was no way I was going to get in there.
I could either go back to The Hive and not be able to see, or I could go to Fletcher, where I could sit in a comfy chair and catch the end of harpist Zeena Parkins’ set. Unfortunately, by the time I got to Fletcher, she was done. Natalie Prass was up next, and I watched a couple of songs, but I wasn’t into it.
It was getting late, and Roky Erickson was the only thing that I was even remotely interested in seeing. Unfortunately, it was way over at CAM, which is a venue that I hate. Also, it was about 8 blocks away from where I was and from where I needed to be at the end of the night. So I decided to pack it in. In what’s become an “end of every night at Hopscotch” tradition, I got a slice from the pizza truck parked outside Lincoln and went back to my hotel.
Although things fell apart at the end of the night, it was still a great day.