Notes from day two of Hopscotch 2018

I’ve been very busy at Hopscotch this weekend. I had a thrilling Thursday night, followed by a long and interesting Friday day, and a pretty busy Friday night. Between all of those day party shows at King’s and the things on my calendar for Friday night, there was a gap of about 3 hours. Instead of getting drinks or going into shows that I didn’t care about, I picked up some snacks and headed back to the hotel to freshen up and put my feet up.
I headed back into downtown about 30 minutes before the start of Grizzly Bear. I already wrote about how I always eat at Beasley’s for fried chicken. I also always eat pizza when I’m at Hopscotch. I was saddened that Pie Pushers food truck wasn’t there, so I tried a new place in downtown Raleigh that’s super close to the footprint of the festival. I had a slice at Benny Capitale’s. They have really big slices. One is plenty. Most places that serve giant slices have New York-style slices that are often impossibly thin. This wasn’t too thin, and more importantly, the crust was a little crispy. Anyway, it was good. I would eat it again.

Grizzly Bear at Hopscotch 2018

I headed in to Grizzly Bear just as they were starting. I had never seen them before, but I absolutely love their records. Shields was my second favourite album of 2012, and the others would also have been in the top five of their respective years. Although the sound was a bit too heavy on the low end, they sounded great, and they seemed really excited to be at the festival. Because I wasn’t there at 5:30, I wasn’t as close to the stage as I normally like to be, but I could still see the stage really well. Because it’s been a while since I’ve spent significant time with their records, I kind of forgot how bloody brilliant they are. There’s no need for theatrics or elaborate lighting. Just a really good show.

Just as they wrapped up, I started to hustle out of there to get back to King’s because I really wanted to see Empath. On the way out, I unexpectedly bumped into one of my old Hopscotch pals who hasn’t been able to go for the last couple of years. I chatted with him for a couple of minutes, then headed down the street to King’s. There was a pretty packed house, and Empath was already on stage playing a loud, energetic set. In a live setting, some things about them become more evident than they are on recordings. The songs are good, and they have so much energy and so much fun, but there’s just a little missing in the skill department. I only had time to spend about 20 minutes there because I needed to haul ass over to Pour House, where I was planning to use as home base for the rest of the night.

Spirit of the Beehive

Pour House is a mystery to me. It’s accessible by a narrow walkway in an alleyway, and the venue is really cool, but it’s always either jammed to capacity, or nearly empty. I used to hate it because it’s kinda grimy, and when it’s packed, it’s not much fun, but the sound is always really great, and they’ve had some great bands there for the last couple of festivals. So it went from being one of my least favourite venues to one of my very favourites.
I was expecting a full house for Philly noise rockers Spirit of the Beehive, and it was a good house, but not at capacity. This meant that it was easy to order a beer and easy to move around.
Spirit of the Beehive were fantastic. They exceeded my expectations. Unfortunately, they only played about five songs, which left a big gap between them and the next band.
Because of the gap between bands and because it cleared out a little, and because I was a little annoyed by some of the kids who were near me, I went upstairs to the viewing area. If you can get a seat on the railing up there, it’s a perfect place to watch, but if you can’t, it’s terrible.
I had a dilemma. On one hand, I really wanted to go see Julie Byrne, who was playing at Nash Hall a couple of blocks away. On the other, I needed to be back at Pour House for Swearin’ in an hour, and I should probably stay put. Also, I made a really silly mistake in my planning.
When the lineup came out, I saw “Molly Burch”, and I mistook that for Anna Burch. So I was also thinking that I had a lot of interest in seeing Anna Burch, which meant that I should stay put. As soon as Molly Burch came on stage, I realized my error. I was annoyed, but I decided to roll with it and stay put.
Molly Burch is from Austin, and the band sort of reminds me of a Texan version of Cowboy Junkies. They also remind me of the kind of band that Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor would have gone to see on Friday Night Lights.

Allison Crutchfield of Swearin’

I stayed put in my perch in the upstairs lounge, and the house started to fill up for Swearin’. As you know, Swearin’ is headed up by Allison Crutchfield, who is the twin sister of Katie Crutchfield out of Waxahatchee. They play on each other’s records and they often support each other on stage. Yesterday, I lamented the fact that Allison didn’t join Katie on stage during the Waxahatchee set, and I wondered if Katie would be around during Allison’s set. During the intermission, I spotted Katie chatting with Allison’s bandmates, and I thought that I might get my wish. Spoiler alert: that never came to pass.

Last time both Crutchfield sisters were at Hopscotch was 2013, and I had to pass on Swearin’ because of a time crunch. I did, however, see Allison play a solo show a couple of years ago. During that show, Katie came on stage to help her sister do a magnificent cover of The New Pornographers’ “Letter from an Occupant”. It gave me goose flesh. The point is that I had never seen Allison with a full band. Certainly not with so much noise.

Allison and her band roared through an amazing set of new songs from the forthcoming album along with some older ones. I absolutely loved every second of it. It was a wonderfully noisy, enery-filled ending to what was a long but fairly sedentary night.

I’ve seen nearly everything that I’ve wanted to see, and it’s been a wonderful festival so far. There’s still a ton on my schedule tonight, and it looks like I’m going to bouncing around quite a bit.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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