VICE at Hopscotch: Field Report of Our First Day
Raleigh, NC seems like a pretty nice place. The people are definitely friendly and overly apologetic when the most minimal slight occurs. At least that’s been my experience at the 2012 Hopscotch Music Festival so far.
Everything really started on Wednesday night when a couple of pals took their Raleigh rookie (i.e. me) to an underground--as in basement--bar name Neptunes. The rumor was that Yo La Tengo was gonna DJ after they finished playing a private party. And, sure enough, around 1 AM or so Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan started spinning tunes. I went up to them and asked “Hey, may I take your photo for VICE?” and coulda sworn Kaplan gave me a smirk but I snapped it anyway. What a good sport he is, huh?
Thursday was the proper beginning of Hopscotch and I took it slowly. I didn’t even bother getting to any day parties before 2pm but wound up seeing some cool, and simply OK, stuff. For example, this guy Derek Torres played a little acoustic set at a place named Kings that’s just upstairs from the aforementioned Neptunes. It was all a bit earnest and silly and I suppose everyone was supposed to think it was cute, too. But I feel like I’ve seen a billion of these types of dudes over he years. Cool haircut, though. Next up was Invisible Hand and they popped it off like nice Virginia boys whose hearts are in the ‘60s but record collections are in the ‘80s. Seriously, vocals like a less intense Feargal Sharkey and all kinds of crazy rhythms worthy of being called college-radio-ish. Undeniably catchy and enjoyable, too.
About an hour or so later I was lounging around inside the downtown Raleigh Sheraton near “Wrist Band City” (i.e. credential and ticket pick-up) and a huge storm blasted its way across downtown. Before anyone could enjoy the nice sounds of this rolling thunder review, the skylight--which covers an entire floor and lobby area--sprung major leaks. It basically rained inside the building. It’s kind of comical to think about how dramatic and shocking this seemed at the time, though.
Jumping ahead a few hours...I caught a cool set from Airstrip and I’d bet you dollars to donuts these guys get compared to Joy Division a lot of the time. That’s what always happens to somewhat doom-y bands with melodic bass and plaintive vocals. I always wonder if anyone realizes what a debt all these bands owe to The Doors? Hell, Joy Division did. The Bunnymen did, too. I hear it all over Airstrip’s music. And that’s totally meant as a compliment, so don’t hate.
A weird surfer dude was giving me menacing looks near the front of the stage during Airstrip so I was more than glad to split and head down to Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) for Flesh Wounds. Absolutely totally worth it. A solid reminder that “garage” is such a limiting term for what’s really just Rock-n-Roll. I mean, this is what it is. Three or four chords played til fingers are shredded, sweat is pouring and arms are flailing. Everything else is some aggregate form.
The impossibly/wonderfully named bar White Collar Crime hosted the set I caught by Raleigh locals Savage Knights. In front of a crowd of maybe, and that’s a big maybe, fifteen people these five guys ground out a crazy blend of drone, avant-funk-n-Jazz. Imagine an airplane stuck in takeoff intensity for several minutes while your heart beats faster and faster until, all of a sudden, it’s quiet again but nothing feels calmer. This was that. Perfect, really.
Then it was back to CMA to catch Stockholm’s Holograms. This was the one band I wasn’t going to miss. Good God, people. This band. These four very pale Swedish boys out-rocked, out-attitude-ed and just plain out-created every single in the room. And that was a good amount of people, a fair number of which were the bonehead sort who just have to start slamming anytime they hear a fast guitar. It’s not like they ruined anything, really, but moshing has pretty much always been dumb but now it’s just stupid. Hologram’s bassist Andreas Lagerström wore a leather jacket with the “Suicide” logo on the back and a man rune on the right shoulder. At one point he introduced a song named “Sweden’s Pride” (actual title ““You Are Ancient (Sweden’s Pride).” ). The guitarist and drummer both had the same tattoo that said “MAC” inside a heart. Maybe the rest of the band did, too, but I only saw theirs. All of which is to say “What exactly is going on here?” And dammit if that’s not part and parcel of compelling art.
I finished up Thursday by heading to Pour House and seeing G-Side play in front of a pitifully small audience. But they were full of love and I got there really late and only caught the last song and the one-song encore. Seemed like a nice enough guy, though.
Here’s to Friday and more Hopscotch action...