I’m back from a very long and very eventful middle day of Hopscotch. Feel free to revisit my notes from Thursday.
Every year on the Friday of Hopscotch, I get up early and watch the Carolina Hurricanes participate in an informal practice. They’re not allowed to have any team personnel present, and they have to rent the ice on their own dime, but it’s always fun to see the boys skate. The season is a month away, and training camp hasn’t opened yet, but those informal practices are pretty much like what they would do during the season. This year, there was only going to be a very small group of guys, and I felt like crap Friday morning, so I skipped that tradition in favor of more sleep and more writing.I finally got downtown at about 12:45, just in time to see drummer extraordinaire Kid Millions play a collaborative day party set with the badass harpist Mary Lattimore at Kings. I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course I saw Kid Millions play with his drum ensemble Man Forever on Thursday night, and I loved it. i just didn’t know how his style would work with a harpist. As it turns out, he played in a very restrained way, while she used all sorts of effects pedals and loops and things like that. Whatever expectations I did or didn’t have were certainly met. And then some. It was a beautiful set. I ran into a couple of old college friends, and that was nice, but by the time that set was over, I was definitely ready for lunch.
I’ve made it a Hopscotch tradition to eat at Beasley’s Chicken and Honey at least twice, and I demolished my chicken and waffles like it was my job.
I walked around a little bit with no real agenda. I walked into Beach House’s sound check, and for some reason, they had a handler who was shooing away anyone who was attempting to take photos.I caught up with my Hopscotch buddies Kyle, Bronce, and Jake at Boxcar barcade, where there were a bunch of day party shows. I had wanted to see Secret Guest again, but by the time I got there, they were done. I played a few arcade games, then stuck around to watch a few sets. First was Fk Mt, an indie punk band, who I think are from South Carolina. Then came psychedelic folk/goth band Thayer Sarrano. That set was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Somehow, I had it in my head that she played Hopscotch last year. It’s not the case. By the end of their set, it was after 5:00, and almost time to head into City Plaza for the big headline show with Beach House at the top of the bill. I didn’t really plan it this way, but I had only had one beer to that point.
Before heading over to City Plaza, I went to my car to change out of my sweat-soaked shirt and into my shirt that commemorates the Mark Kozelek incident from two years ago. I sat in my car for a little while with the AC running while I downed a Gatorade from my stash and snacked on some cheese crackers. I also took that time to make a quick phone call to my girlfriend, who isn’t along for the ride.First up in City Plaza was the Asheville band The Dead Tongues. I didn’t know anything at all about them, so they weren’t on my radar. I guess you could call them an Americana band. What they were playing was pleasant, but it just didn’t move me at all. Speaking of moving, I was up very close to the front for their set because I kind of wanted to be close for Beach House. I knew that I had zero interest in the middle act Anderson Paak, and I knew that it was going to get very crowded for that, and I just didn’t want to be crammed in there, so I got out of there.
I found my friends again, and we watched Anderson Paak from the back, behind the sound desk. His set has elements of rap, R&B, heavy rock, and some other things. He sings, raps, plays drums, and captivates his audience. I’m not denying his skill set or his charisma, but whatever it is that he’s doing just isn’t for me.
There was a very long pause between the Anderson Paak set and the start of Beach House, and I was getting a bit restless and a bit hungry. I went over to the Jimmy John’s right there in the Plaza and got a quick bite to eat. Then, we waited. And waited some more.
Finally, Beach House came on a few minutes after their scheduled start time of 8:45. Because we were so far away, because there was a lot of stage fog, and because I don’t have a proper camera, I wasn’t able to get any good photos of them. Victoria Legrand came out wearing a hooded cloak, and she kept it on for a while. With the smoke, the dim lights, and all that, there wasn’t much to see. The sound, however, was fantastic. As great as they sounded, and as excited as I was to see them, I was also anxious to get the night moving along.
Just as we were moving out of City Plaza, some dude walked past us and totally fell out. I don’t know what happened, but police were there immediately, some of his friends were there, and some strangers were there to help out. Literally within seconds, people were handing him bottles of water and sandwiches. He was down for a little while, but sat up, and was talking, and seemed lucid. I think it must have been just like what happened to me three years ago at Hopscotch.At about 9:45, I ducked out of there and headed over to Fletcher to see Kid Millions (again, I know). This time he was playing with noisy saxophonist Jim Sauter. He’s in a freeform/improvisational band called Borbetomagus. There’s another saxophonist and an electric guitar in that band. They’ve put out a ton of records since 1980, but I’ve never heard of them. Sauter played through some effects pedals and created a bunch of feedback. Kid Millions did his thing on the drums. It was pretty amazing. I had to leave early, though, because there was stuff that I wanted to see. Beach Slang and Car Seat Headrest were playing back-to-back at CAM. Mary Lattimore, Adia Victoria, and Julien Baker were playing back-to-back-to-back at Nash Hall. I really wanted to both. They were both a pretty long walk from Fletcher, but the walk to Nash is a little further. The walk between those two venues is so long that it would preclude bouncing back and forth. I had also promised a friend at home (who is a huge Beach Slang fan) that I would see Beach Slang for him, so I opted for the two sets at CAM. Normally, I avoid that place because the sound has been really awful there in the past, but there weren’t any problems this time.
Beach Slang was everything that I expected them to be and then some. Their longtime drummer quit (or was asked to leave) the band earlier this year, and later on there was also a rumor that they were breaking up, but they’re very much together, and very good. They were energetic, tight, and a bunch of fun. It’s often said that they sound A LOT like The Replacements, and I’m fully on board with that. They actually played a show recently where they covered the entire Pleased to Meet Me album, and I’ve learned that they frequently end shows with a cover of “Can’t Hardly Wait”. They didn’t do that on Friday, but they did a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” midway through their set. At the time, that was the most fun set of the night.
Next was Car Seat Headrest. I was pretty excited about that, but I was only able to stay for about three songs. They were good, but I wasn’t into it enough to keep me there. I had other things to do.
When the Hopscotch lineup was announced, I was really excited about Diet Cig. I decided that I was going to see them no matter what. I made the short walk over to Deep South, which is often filled to capacity. I didn’t have any problems getting in, but it was a pretty packed house. I’ve listened to Diet Cig’s Over Easy EP about a million times, and it always puts me in a good mood. The songs are quick, bouncy, and fun. It’s all reminiscent of cuddlepunk bands and punkgaze bands of the early 1990s.As much as I like listening to their EP, seeing them perform was so much better. Frontwoman Alex Luciano was bouncing all over the stage, smiling, and radiating good vibes. Unfortunately, because of all her bouncing, and because I was near the back of the crowded room, and because she’s so tiny, I couldn’t get a good photo. Anyway, she looked like there was no place on earth she would rather be. She said she was having a great time in Raleigh, she was enjoying the festival, and she said she had some shrimp and grits that “changed (her) life”. As an audience member, you can’t help but get caught up in that kind of enthusiasm. Their loud, fast, bouncy songs and her exuberance fed the crowd, and that was a good thing. Until it became a little too much. I’ll write more about this in a separate post, but in the interest of wrapping this up, I’ll just say that things almost got out of hand. I stayed for their whole set, then lingered for a bit to say hello to them. It was, by far, the thing that I’ve liked the most so far.
On my walk from Deep South back to my car, I found $5 on the ground, which eased the pain of the fact that they’re actually charging people to use the parking deck this year.
I continued my Hopscotch tradition of stopping by the Pie Pushers pizza truck for a couple of slices before driving back to the hotel.
All in all, it was a really great night.
In a short while, look for some details about the events that transpired at the Diet Cig set.