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zlechner's blog

Hopscotch 2014 - Day 3

Hopscotch 2014 is officially in the books. It remains to be seen whether the organizers made it into the black on this run, but from my perspective, with the festival’s profile higher than ever, they continue to offer a musical experience unlike anything else in the country.

With daylight still burning, I arrived during Death’s set at the City Plaza. There’s been a resurgence of interest in the Detroit 1970s proto-punkers after the success of the 2012 documentary A Band Called Death. The band’s funky aggression went over well with the crowd. Bassist and vocalist Bobby Hackney talked of Death’s difficulty finding music industry support when it started out (the band’s name, not surprisingly, was a problem), as well as its plans for releasing new music. Although the trio sounded pretty good, I was most taken by the onstage attire of its members, which I can only describe as something that might have been found on a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome-themed Rick James video shoot.

After Death finished its set I wandered the plaza and ran into the guys from Fabricoh Magazine. Our conversation ranged from the Sun Kil Moon incident of Friday night to (for some reason) Gene Simmons’s infamous 2002 Fresh Air interview. They were a lot of fun and were clearly having a good time.


Hopscotch 2014 - Day 2

Having survived the first day of the festival more or less intact, I approached Friday night’s festivities with a more relaxed attitude. Loosely planning the concerts I wished to see, I strolled into Raleigh’s City Plaza during St. Vincent’s set as cool breezes combated the already relatively mild humidity.

St. Vincent’s choreographed dance moves were of the love it or hate it variety (I was mostly into it). The real draw was her driving guitar work; there are few things more satisfying than listening to some ace rhythm guitar work, and Annie Clark is a master of it.

After a break of about 30 minutes, which gave me time to mill around and chat up some fellow festivalgoers, Spoon hit the stage and played an hour-plus set that expectedly stuck to mostly recent material—nothing from before 2002’s Kill the Moonlight, for instance. I could have gone for the slinky groove of “Fitted Shirt,” but what are you going to do? The performance was good, not great, and seemed to flag in energy from time to time. Still, I hadn’t caught Spoon on tour since the Gimme Fiction era, and it was nice to see that the band remains vital after 20 years.


Hopscotch 2014 - Day 1

Greetings from your intrepid reporter of the concertgoer experience for WXDU at this year’s Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh.

Days ago, I began to feel a vague, somewhat overwhelming feeling. What was this anxiety? It was the sense that the festival was rapidly approaching and I had done very little to plot out my schedule. This is my first Hopscotch. If not approached with the right frame of mind, I thought, the festival is destined to leave me with a sense of disappointment, as I will be able to attend only a fraction of the shows I would like to see. For example, Thursday’s 12:30 slot was ridiculously strong—and impossibly tempting—with Diarrhea Planet, The War on Drugs, and Tim Hecker playing sets (while Thurston Moore was finishing his). Almost immediately after I started to plot my strategy, I realized that it’s pointless to slavishly plan out my schedule ahead of time. I must leave room for contingencies—such is the fun of Hopscotch!