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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.

After a quick meal break, I was reenergized and ready for the rest of evening. I resumed my Hopscotch-ing at Tir Na Nog with Haley Fohr, who performs under the name Circuit de Yeux. The place was pretty full and Fohr treated the audience to a (self-)lacerating performance, concluding with a long number that closed with Fohr shrieking and writhing on the ground and banging away on her overdriven acoustic guitar. I was impressed at her level of emotion and commitment. (Honestly, it scared me a little bit!)

I moved on, wandering through downtown and arrived outside of Slim’s, where I spoke with drummer Max Kupperberg from NY-based Palehound. The band had just finished its set, and Max and I talked about his love for North Carolina audiences and the resurgence of interest in early to mid-1990s lo-fi rock. He was pleased with the receptive audience and said that this was one of the more chilled-out festivals his band has played.

From there I ventured to the Lincoln Theatre, where I settled in for the rest of the evening, and caught Mark McGuire. He acted as a one-man band, singing and accompanying himself on guitar and electronics. McGuire kept up the spirits of the audience with some feel-good music. He also announced that he’ll be a father soon, so it’s hard not to root for this guy.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the already infamous Sun Kil Moon show that closed out the night at the Lincoln Theatre. Indy Week put together a nice Storify post on it. To put it succinctly, the prickly Mark Kozelek (I referred to him as a “delicate genius” on Twitter) felt that the audience was not quiet enough for his performance. Expectedly, some of the crowd turned against him after he repeatedly shushed them and demanded, “Everybody, all you f--king hillbillies, shut the f--k up. I don’t give a f--k if I get paid or not, I'm gonna walk.” Well, I guess he decided he wanted that paycheck, because he kept playing. He did manage to win back the crowd—or at least keep it at bay—with a solid set. A particular highlight was “Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes.” The version on the recent Benji release is highly atmospheric, with echoed and ghostly vocals. In concert, Kozelek and his band, which featured Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley on one of two drum kits, took the song in an equally haunting, but more driving, direction. Overall, Sun Kil Moon put on a fine performance, although Kozelek’s bad behavior was inexcusable.

So ended the evening. Let’s hope everyone keeps themselves in line on the final day of the festival!