Hopscotch Music Festival Notes
Well, it’s Hopscotch week around Raleigh, and the city is abuzz in anticipation of a phenomenal line-up and exciting schedule of non-show events. From Thursday through Saturday, Downtown Raleigh will be one giant indie rock concert, bringing together legendary bands that have left their mark on the music world over the last twenty years and brand new underground artists that are cutting their teeth to make it on some level or another and, of course, outfits of every status in between. Everyone knows the names of the headliners playing the Amphitheater – Guided By Voices, Drive By Truckers, Superchunk, Flaming Lips, Dodos – and those are all groups known to put on incredible shows, so I wouldn’t expect anything less. What you might not know is how unbelievable the rest of the line-up is.
There are points in time where you have to choose between seeing the Black Lips and Lonnie Walker, BRAIDS and the Vivian Girls, Titus Andronicus and Times New Viking. In these cases, among others, there really is no wrong way to go, as you’re bound to see a phenomenal show either way. If you’re only interested in one genre, you can stick to that and not have too many conflicts to drive yourself crazy over (perhaps only three or four), but my recommended method for taking in all the great stuff would be to try and catch a little bit of every kind of sound on display. With that in mind, we will post each day what we recommend you see, as well as a couple sets we’ll be sad to have to miss. We will also be live-blogging from the festival, and over the weekend or next week host plenty of Hopscotch-related material including interviews, reviews, news, and (hopefully) even a performance or two.
Tonight, you should start off at Kings Barcade for the opening set of the weekend with Dinosaur Feathers. As the name might imply, the Feathers are a wildly chaotic indie pop band in the mold of Architecture in Helsinki perhaps, and a perfect artist to kick off the festival proper. Their first album didn’t get a ton of publicity, but probably should have, and it really gives the impression that it would lend itself to a great live show.
From there, you have to make a choice – do you go for the upstart local folk band Tender Fruit or the veteran local blues rockers Spider Bags? Personally I’d go see Tender Fruit, except that you have to consider the “where”, and I can see going from Kings to Tir Na Nog (for Tender Fruit) to Lincoln Theater for the rest of the night could be a pain in the ass, so with that in mind I’d say skip on Tender Fruit and go catch the Spider Bags over at Lincoln. Tender Fruit are great, but they’ll play around here again sometime soon. Spider Bags do not play very often, and are opening for the two bands you’ll want to see the rest of the night, the Love Language and the Black Lips.
The Love Language, as you know, are the fledgling local indie pop stars who have made quite a name for themselves in the last couple years with two strong albums, but they are still growing into themselves and it remains to be seen whether they will continue to burn brighter and brighter as they mature or become self-absorbed and fizzle out like many of the bands in their style do. For now, though, they’re great and put on a good live performance.
The show of the night is clearly the Black Lips at the Lincoln. This Atlanta, GA garage rock outfit has been putting out good album year after year, and can’t seem to stop being the most consistent artist of their genre. Their live set is not just energetic and loud, it embodies energy and volume. They’ve toned down some of the antics, but never the music. It’s a little surprising they aren’t included in the Amphitheater shows this weekend, but perhaps they don’t draw quite as large of a crowd as some of those other bands’ names do. You’ll have to miss out on Fan Modine, Lonnie Walker, and William Tyler in order to catch the Lips, but trust me: it’ll be worth it to catch one of the more raucous bands of the last 10 years live and in person, especially considering the groups that are opening for them.