Category Archives: Hopscotch Music Festival 2013

June 7, 2017 — “Skim” by Torres


If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Skim” by Torres (2017, from the standalone single “Skim” and forthcoming album).

Torres is the stage name for indie rock musician Mackenzie Scott. She’s originally from somewhere in rural Georgia, and she got her start in Nashville. Her 2013 debut TORRES was my second favourite album of that year. Her sophomore release Sprinter was my 18th favourite album of that year. I also had the pleasure of seeing her at the 2013 Hopscotch Music Festival. Read about that here.

I didn’t have it on my radar, but Torres released a single and accompanying video yesterday via 4AD Records. I didn’t even know that she had signed with 4AD until I saw the video pop up in my twitter feed. She hasn’t divulged any details, but there apparently is a new album on the horizon.

I’ve only watched the video about a thousand times since last night. While the first record was more “indie folk” than rock and the second record was more “indie rock” than folk, it sounds like this might be something different entirely. It’s just one song, but this sounds like a new direction for her. This song reminds me quite a bit of St. Vincent’s marvelous 2011 album Strange Mercy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that Annie Clark played guitar on this. If she didn’t, Torres is taking a page straight out of her book and a line from her page. Incidentally, I think Annie Clark has gotten a little weird since Strange Mercy, but that’s a different story for a different day.

This video has some strange direction, but it’s brilliant. It’s mysterious and sexy and dark and confusing. And I love it.

“Skim” by Torres

I absolutely love the line “There’s no unlit corner of a room I’m in”, and the line “I know every tense in which I cannot exist”. At least I think that’s what the line is.

The video was directed by Ashley Connor, who has directed lots of videos for Angel Olsen, as well as a few for Jenny Lewis, Jenny Hval, Julianna Barwick, and others. She also did the creepy/sexy/magnificent video for “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski. If you haven’t already, you should take the time to watch that video here. Just as she did with “Your Best American Girl”, Connor wants us to feel like creepy, filthy voyeurs with “Skim”. She also wants us to be confused. About a lot of things. No matter what, it’s a wonderfully shot video that has a few surprises in it. Also, as an added bonus, those scenes in the shower are also a subtle echo of some of the press photos from the first album. I like that.

As I said, there’s no word on when the new album is out, or even what it’s called. For the time being, we should just enjoy the video again and again.

October 28, 2016 — “Dean’s Room” by Allison Crutchfield

Allison Crutchfield

Allison Crutchfield

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Dean’s Room” by Allison Crutchfield (2017, from the forthcoming album Tourist in This Town).

Allison Crutchfield is a Philadelphia-based indie rock/punk singer/songwriter. You probably know her twin sister Katie as the frontwoman of the amazing Waxahatchee. The most recent Waxahatchee record —Ivy Tripp was my third favourite record of 2015. When Katie had to pinch hit for Owen Pallett at the 2015 Hopscotch Music Festival, her hastily planned set was far and away my favourite thing of that year’s festival, and is among the top three things I’ve ever seen at Hopscotch. Read about that here.

You might also remember that the Alabama native twin sisters were in a band called P.S. Eliot. Both Crutchfield girls played the 2013 Hopscotch festival with their respective bands, but circumstances prevented me from seeing Swearin’. I was only able to see a few songs of the Waxahatchee set that year.

You may also remember that Allison was the front of a band called Swearin’. She’s stepped away from that band, at least for a moment. She’s on Merge Records now (same as her sister), and she’s set to release her solo debut early next year. Last week, Merge shared one of the songs from that album. This is that song:
“Dean’s Room” by Allison Crutchfield

It’s a little punky, a little poppy, and even a little gothy. And it has enormous hooks. After the drum-heavy, fuzzy intro, the particular way the keyboards mix with the guitars and bass reminds me of Disintegration. Specifically, I’m reminded of “Fascination Street”. The chorus is big and bright with vocals way up front. All of that sets this apart from “Fascination Street”, but during the bridge, if you can ignore the drums, it sounds a lot like something that might have been on Disintegration.

I don’t know how the rest of the album sounds, but this is big and fun. Allison says that she went through a lot of life changes in the last two years. She says that big changes will often trigger a panic button, but that in the end, most people will emerge triumphant on the other side. That, apparently, is what her record is about.

Tourist in This Town will come out on January 27, 2017 via Merge Records. You can pre-order it here. The first 150 vinyl orders will come on opaque lavender vinyl.

In case you’re wondering, Katie did some vocals on three songs from this album, but not on this one.

For good measure, there’s also a video for the song:
“Dean’s Room” by Allison Crutchfield

May 9, 2016 — “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner (Japanese Breakfast)

Obviously, everyone’s listening to the new Radiohead record, but if you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast (2016, from the album Psychopomp.

Japanese Breakfast is a Philadelphia-based indie pop project of Michelle Zauner out of the indie punk band Little Big League. In 2013, she set out to do something different from the guitar-oriented stuff that she was doing, and she released a tape called “June”, which featured 30 songs: one song written and recorded every day of the month. The goal with Japanese Breakfast was to showcase her vocals and to play around with pop melodies. Even if they were dark. The project started off as a solo project, and in June 2014, she released a seven-song EP called “Where is My Great Big Feeling”. That was followed one month later by an eight-song EP called “American Sound”. These were met with warm reviews, and there was much anticipation about an album. Japanese Breakfast is now a full band, and the debut album Psychopomp, which came out via Yellow K Records on April 1 of this year.

I got something in the mailbag several weeks ago, and I received a preview copy of the album. I’ve been enjoying it very much, but I’ve been busy with life and haven’t had time to write very much. Still, though, I had this very high on my list of things to write about.

Today, the Hopscotch Music Festival announced the lineup for this autumn’s seventh annual festival. I’ve been to at least part of the festival every year except the second, and this will be my fifth consecutive year going to the whole festival. It’s the only festival I go to, and it’s the only “vacation” that I take every year. When the lineup was released this morning, I was really excited about some of the “larger print” bands like Beach House and Sylvan Esso, and I was even more excited about some of the “small print” bands like Diet Cig. Julien Baker, and of course Japanese Breakfast. There are many others that I’m already excited about and many more that I’ll become excited about as I do my research, but this one made me really happy.

There’s a little bit of a twee/c-86 feel to this song, and in that respect I’m reminded of the c-86 revival that keeps trying to gain some momentum. But underneath that twee/c-86 vibe, there’s also a bit of saucy times. Take the song’s first verse:

Can I get your number?
Can I get you into bed?
When we wake up in the morning
Will you give me lots of head

Today’s song is all of two minutes and thirteen seconds, but it’s full of jangle-y goodness, a little bit of darkness, and just a ton of fun. And the aforementioned naughty sexy time. It’s a warm spring day with nothing to do but drive around with the windows down and music blaring. This is that song that’s blaring:
“Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

The rest of the album has some different sounds, moods, and textures. This is far and away my favorite song on the album, but the whole album is very good.

Apparently, Zauner wrote this song six years when she and a friend were in a band called Birthday Girls. The rest of the songs are written exclusively by her.

You can buy the album via Bandcamp here. Get it on “clear aqua” vinyl, black vinyl, cassette, or digital download.

We don’t know the Hopscotch schedule yet, and we won’t know that until about two or three weeks before the festival. But we do know that Japanese Breakfast will be there. And that makes us happy. They had a pre-sale for 3-day wristbands, and tickets go back on sale later this week.

Stay tuned over the next four months as I’ll have a lot of focus on the bands who will be playing this year’s festival.

11.23.2014 — “The Devil” by Praises

Praises (Jesse Crowe)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “The Devil” by Praises (2014, from the EP Praises).

Praises is the recording project of Toronto-based dream pop/shoegaze/indie pop musician Jesse Crowe. You may already know her as one half of the band Beliefs. After that band’s self-titled 2013 album won critical acclaim, Crowe went back into the studio on her own to make a finish working on a four-song EP, which was released in April of this year via the wonderful Toronto indie label Hand Drawn Dracula. Today’s song is something that she’d already been working on since 2012, and there’s an ever-so-slightly different version floating around out there, but today’s song is the final version that made it on the EP.

There’s four songs on the EP, and two of them remind me of Wye Oak. This is one of those songs.

“The Devil” by Praises

Crowe doesn’t sound like Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak, but there’s just something about the whole package that reminds me a bit of Wye Oak. I’m sure Crowe wouldn’t object to that comparison.

I love how it starts with a bit of fuzz. By the first verse, the fuzz sort of levels off, making room for the melodies and Crowe’s strong vocals.

You can buy a digital download from the HDD web store here. While you’re there, spend some time exploring the shop. Load your cart up with other great releases like the ones by Beliefs and Weeknight.

For extra credit, here’s the video:

In which I passed out at Hopscotch

Hopefully, you’ve all been following along at home as I’ve recapped my adventures at the fourth annual Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh last weekend. 3 nights. 175 bands. 15 venues. Last year, I had a great time, and I had another fantastic weekend this year. However, it was not without a bump in the road.

Or on the head, as it were.

You can read all about how Thursday went for me here.
This is how Friday went.
Finally, you can read about my Saturday here.

As promised, I’m here to elaborate on “the incident”, in which I passed out at Hopscotch.

Last year, I made a mistake of trying too hard to see too many bands. I swore that I wouldn’t try that hard this year. Instead, I actually ended up trying even harder.

On Friday, I had a late and hearty lunch. During that lunch, I had a small glass of beer and a lot of water. I wasn’t even thinking about hydration, but it’s something that just happened by sheer, dumb luck.

I had a handful of beer throughout the night, but I stopped drinking early enough so that I was in perfect shape to drive back to my hotel. I did a lot of walking that night, and I was completely exhausted by the end of it. I stopped on the drive back to the hotel for some disgusting, but fulfilling fast food, and went to bed.

On Saturday, I got out of bed a little later than I was hoping to, and I got downtown a little later than I was hoping to. Before leaving the parking deck, I was careful to apply lots of sunscreen, and I ate an orange. Despite my late start, I didn’t miss anything that I felt like I needed to see. In fact, I arrived just as Torres was playing the first song of her day party set. I drank one beer during her set.

I don’t want to rewrite the entire Saturday recap. These the details that are germane to “the incident”: I ate an orange at about 12:30. I drank one beer at about 1:00 in the afternoon. I ate a hamburger and drank a soda at about 2:30 in the afternoon. I drank another beer at about 5:00 in the afternoon, and another at about 6:00. Those were the only things that I had to eat and drink all day. While it had been close to 90°F on Friday, it was only about 80°F on Saturday, but the sun was shining brightly and I was outside for most of the day. Another important detail is that I and my friend Bill were in the front row of the standing room show. You may know Bill as the guy who pinch-hit for me once last year by writing a post about Hunters & Collectors. Or as the fans of the band say, Hunnas.

During the Breeders set, I was feeling great.

During the Spiritualized set, which started at about 8:45, I was having a good time, but I was starting to feel tired. Achy. I thought I would fight it off and power through it until we could go to the Low set, where we would be sitting down. I started getting a tiny bit nauseous, but again I thought that I would power through it, get some water and sit down. I started to feel woozy, and I finally turned to my friend Bill and told him that I needed to go sit down for a bit. I was trying to judge the quickest way to get out of the crowd.

The next thing I knew, I had a bunch of hands on my face, and I was on my back. For a second, I thought that I was in my hotel bed, having a weird dream. Two or three girls surrounding me, all asking repeatedly “Are you alright? Are you alright?” At the precise moment, I wasn’t clever enough to say “I am now“. It took a few seconds for me to piece together what had happened. According to Bill, I was out for about 30 seconds.

After I got to my feet, Bill and an event security guy helped me to the side of the stage where I could sit.

I was a little bit dazed. This has never happened to me before. For some reason, the first thing I remember doing after I came to was making sure that I still had my earplugs in. Hearing protection doesn’t take a holiday.

My tee shirt was soaked. I had been sweating like a mare at a donkey convention.

I said that I just needed some water and probably some food. The security guy immediately gave me a bottle of water. Bill got me another. And another. And some horrible Chinese food with a Pepsi to wash it down. As soon as I took the first sip of the water, I felt better. A lot better. The Chinese food place, about 20 feet away from us, was fast, but horrible. Bill said that he just got whatever would be quick and that he didn’t care whether I liked it or not. At least I had enough wits about me to say that I also didn’t care whether I liked it or not. I knew that I needed to eat something. I even ate the broccoli.

The security guy and the Raleigh Police officers asked me if I needed medical assistance, which I declined. They asked me and my friend separately if there were drugs or alcohol involved, and the answer was that there were no drugs and that I hadn’t had any alcohol for hours.

Again, I declined medical assistance. Bill told me that I hit my head pretty hard. Hard enough that there was a loud thud. My head wasn’t throbbing, and there wasn’t a bump or anything. There still isn’t. I wasn’t woozy or dazed anymore, so I was sure that I was okay. Just embarrassed. I’m still convinced that the “thud” he heard was one of the many electronic devices that I was carrying in my pockets. Phone, camera, external power bank (about the size of a Samsung Galaxy S4) for recharging devices. Then again, my enormous head is made of concrete, so it could have also been that.

After the combination of water, starches, sugars and proteins were in my system, I was feeling much, much better. And it took almost no time. In the meanwhile, Bill texted our friends to let them know what happened. They came by to check on me, and probably to tease me a bit too.

The event security and the police checked on me a few more times. After asking me a few routine questions to make sure that I wasn’t concussed, and that it wasn’t alcohol-related, and after making sure that I was “okay”, they let us go back into the crowd.

I think something like 15 minutes passed from the moment I hit the ground to the moment we were back out there. Maybe more. Maybe less.

The show was winding down, and some of the people who had been in the area stopped by to check on me. It’s good to know that total strangers can be really good people.

I had been updating my Twitter feed all weekend long, so I naturally updated my feed with “apparently, I just fell the fuck out”, followed by some details about how I was okay. I got a lot of response from that, so it was also good to know that some of my real-life and even my Twitterverse friends were concerned.

Bill told me that there was about a two second gap between when I said that I needed to sit down and me falling like a sack of wet potatoes. He told me that he put his hand on my chest to make sure that I wasn’t dead, but didn’t know what else to do from a medical standpoint. Let’s be honest. Most people have no idea what to do in a situation like that. I was lucky that the event security guy was right there. I was lucky that there was a place to get me to safety just a couple of feet away. And I was lucky that Bill was there. I go to most things as a lone wolf, and it was really nice to have a friend instead of a stranger to shepherd me back to the playing field.

I guess what knocked me out was some combination of exhaustion, dehydration, lack of nourishment. Probably more than anything, the dehydration. I’m normally really smart about staying on top of that. I work in an environment where I’m on my feet all day and the ambient temperatures routinely exceed 100°F all day. I’m always careful to drink plenty of clear water to avoid falling out at work.

If I had taken a pause from the action to get that mac-and-cheese that I promised I was going to get, this probably wouldn’t have happened. If I had taken a pause from the action to buy a bottle of water, this probably wouldn’t have happened. If I had taken a pause from the action to go back to my car and eat another orange, this might not have happened. If I had heeded my body’s warning signals sooner, this wouldn’t have happened. In other words, had I not been an idiot, this wouldn’t have happened.

I hope that there’s been at least a tiny bit of entertainment value to this cautionary tale. While the story ends on a happy note, the harsh reality is that it might not have.

Stay hydrated, my friends.

Recapping Hopscotch13 Day Three

As you all know, I spent the weekend at the 2013 Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh. Just as I did last year, I’m breaking down my coverage by day. You can read the coverage of Thursday here. The coverage of Friday is here.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, was a really full and slightly dramatic day. The “dramatic” part of it will be part of a separate post.

Because I knew that there would be some scheduling conflicts on Saturday night, I made sure to head downtown early for the day party action. The most important to me of the day party stuff was Torres. Actually, she was among the most intriguing acts of the whole festival for me, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to her regular set. I headed up to The Hive and got there just as she was starting. It was a short, but fantastic set. I had one beer while I was there. While I wouldn’t normally mention this, it’s important to the big picture.

After Torres, I headed to Slim’s to catch Deleted Scenes. Again, their regular set was scheduled for a time when it just wasn’t going to be possible for me to see them. It was a good, but not spectacular set.

I headed down near the Lincoln Theater, where there were food trucks and where there were supposed to be some bands playing outside. I had a delicious but small burger from the Only Burger food truck. It was about 2:00, and this was the only food that I had all day. Washed it down with a soda, which was the only non-alcoholic beverage I had all day. You might already know where this is headed.

Kelley Deal during soundcheck

After wandering around a little bit, I decided that I needed some cash, so I headed down to City Plaza, where I knew there was an ATM for my bank. To my surprise, I saw that The Breeders were soundchecking. Good timing. I decided, since there were only a handful of people there, to enjoy the soundcheck. They sounded really good, which gave me great hope for their regular set. I’d heard that they sounded awful at Pitchfork, and one of my friends was doubting whether he wanted to even bother with their set.

As they are doing on their entire tour, their regular set consisted of all of the songs, in order, from their 1993 album Last Splash, plus a few other songs from the era. During soundcheck, they played the songs in a different order. And they interacted with the “crowd” a lot. Which I really enjoyed.

After the soundcheck, and after I seized the opportunity to say hello to Kim and Kelley, I went to walk around a little more. I thought I would catch some more day party shows, but I never did. I was feeling a little bit tired, so I headed back over to City Plaza, got a beer (number two of the day) and sat down.

As it got closer to show time, they cleared the Plaza, and said that the gates would open after about 20 minutes. Instead of walking around, or getting something to eat, I just stood there and waited for the gates to open. When they did, I got one more beer (the third and final of the night), and it was only about 5:30.

The first band on the City Plaza bill was the Raleigh indie pop band The Lollipops. I’d never heard them before, but I was really impressed by their set. Young kids playing some really great stuff. At some point during their set, my friend Bill showed up and found me in the front row.

Bill went to grab something to eat from one of the little restaurants in the plaza. I opted out of that. Normally, this wouldn’t be noteworthy, but that decision would come back into play later.

The Breeders were on point, just as they were during sound check. Bill confirmed that it was much, much better than the set that they grudgingly played at Pitchfork. I got a couple of decent pictures and a pretty decent video of them playing “I Just Wanna Get Along”

Space-rock band Spiritualized was the headlining band that night. They’re a band that I’m only marginally familiar with. I remember that they had a couple of records out 20 years ago, and I remember that they had an album Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space, from 1997. Unlike The Breeders, Spiritualized has been active the entire time since the 1990s. My friend Bill was extremely excited about their set, and while seeing them wasn’t part of my original plan, I stuck around for it. The fact that we were still in the front row, which would normally be a petty detail, would come back into play a short while later.

I was enjoying the Spiritualized set a lot more than I thought I would, but I was starting to feel really fatigued. I thought, though, that if I could just make it to the end of their set, I’d be on easy street since the Low show was in a seated theater.

A little more than halfway through the set, I started to feel a bit woozy, so I told Bill that I was going to wade my way out of there and sit down for a bit. Apparently, I didn’t bother to wade out of there. I collapsed, and was apparently out cold for a few seconds. I was no worse for the wear, but I needed some sitting down time and a bunch of hydration before I was ready to get back into action.

I’ll give deeper details about that in a separate post.

We watched the rest of the Spiritualized set from the sidelines, then headed over to Fletcher Hall for the Low set. I was anticipating a mad rush over there, and I was also anticipating a packed house. Neither of those things happened. I still don’t understand why there wasn’t a packed house.

We got there while the Brooklyn chamber-pop/post-rock ensemble San Fermin were wrapping up their set. Somehow, in my extensive Hopscotch homework, I missed the chapter on San Fermin. I loved the two or three songs that we were able to see, and they were very much up my alley in the same way that The Altos is. You’ve probably heard me talk about Altos before, and how they “won Hopscotch” for me last year. You can read the post from day one of Hopscotch 2012, in which I rave about how much Altos blew me away here. Anyway, after San Fermin kind of floored me with their two songs, I was upset that I didn’t prepare for that any better. Had I known what I know now, I would have ducked out of Spiritualized earlier and caught their whole set. Maybe they could have “won Hopscotch” for me. I’ll never know.

Alan Sparhawk of Low

Low hit the stage and just crushed their 75 minute slowcore set with effortless efficiency. I knew that they hadn’t played in this neck of the woods in a long time, and that I might not ever get another chance to see them. I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I honestly couldn’t remember whether I had ever had the privilege of seeing them before. I’ve seen hundreds of bands in my concert-going career, and there are quite a few who I’ve forgotten that I’ve seen. There’s also quite a few who I have never seen no matter how much I swear that I have. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that this was, in fact, the first time that I’d seen them.

They played a great mix of old and new songs, and a couple of up-tempo songs (uptempo for them, anyway) like “Monkey”, but for the most part, it was perfect slowcore bliss.

It was kind of an ideal way to wind down another excellent festival. Although there were still a few bands playing, I’d had enough, and really wanted it to end just like that.

Last year, I made the 80 minute drive home right after the last show on Saturday night. This year, I was a little smarter, and I kept my hotel for an extra night. So I got a good night’s rest before heading back into the real world on Sunday.

Still to come: a full post about the passing out incident, and a short post about mac-and-cheese.

At some point this week, I’ll get back into the business of writing about songs.

Recapping Hopscotch13 Day Two

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.

Thurston Moore and Merzbow

I thought I was getting to Kings just in time for a punk-infused garage rock band from Raleigh called Black Zinfandel. I’d never heard them before. Not even in my exhaustive Hopscotch13 research. When I got there, I was surprised to see a pretty big line and thought that they must have a fanatical following. The one in/one out line moved very quickly, and once I got in, I quickly realized why it was one in/one out. Thurston Moore was still on stage. He had wrapped up his set and was at the very end of a collaborative set with Japanese noise-rock icon Merzbow. I was lucky enough to catch about 12 minutes of their incredible improvised set. They were killing it. Both shredding their guitars. Merzbow was actually playing one strange stringed instrument after another. They all looked like they were things that he cobbled together in his workshop. And he probably did. Anyway, it was a VERY noisy, brilliantly beautiful, overwhelming wave of noise. Big, beautiful noise.

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”.

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