Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Bottom String's Hopscotch Itinerary

Hopscotch Music Festival is exactly one week away and the region is buzzing with excitement for the festival's second year, topped with legendary acts like The Flaming Lips and Guided By Voices (playing what's allegedly their last show of the reunion), Hopscotch is breaking boundaries in the Carolina music scene.  These boundaries aren't being broken just because of the gigantic bands that will be gracing the City Plaza stages on Friday and Saturday, but instead because of how centralized of a focus there still is on local bands and the local scene.  It's hard to choose between so many incredible acts over the weekend, but luckily we've taken on some help from friends and fellow writers (on our sister site Myxem) in Terry McElhennon and Kyle Bement to make sure that we cover as much of the festival as physically possible.  While the age limitations prevent me from checking out everything I want to see (alas, just one more year!), here is The Bottom String's official Hopscotch Itinerary.

Thursday, September 8
Dinosaur Feathers
8:30 at Kings Barcade
One of my top shows for Thursday night.  I'm incredibly excited to see this charismatic and innovative band out of Brooklyn.  Their music is brilliantly layered and filled with luscious textures that will surely reverberate throughout Kings and fill the room with an infectious sense of joy.  Perplexing rhythms, entrancing melodies, and stunning voals, this is the best possible way to kick off all of Hopscotch's festivities. This is a set that I would make sure to catch if I were you!  While some may recommend dipping out early to catch the beginning of Last Year's Men at The Lincoln Theater at 9:00, I intend on catching all of Dinosaur Feathers.

Cassis Orange
9:30 at The Union
An absolute gem of a North Carolina talent, Cassis Orange is led by Autumn Ehinger's charming Casio tones combined with her unfiltered and often times heartbreaking lyrics.  This juxtaposition of poppy instrumentation with emotional lyrics helps Cassis Orange stand out from the crowd, plus their live show is one that captivates the listeners and leaves the masses bobbing heads, swaying along, or singing right along depending on the familiarity with the band.  Not to mention Ehinger is usually joined on stage by local talents Chris Hutcherson-Riddle of Old Bricks/Motor Skills and Trekky Records' jack of all trades Will Hackney, so the strong local connection continues to have a presence at Hopscotch.  After checking out the full Cassis Orange set I'll head on over to The Lincoln Theatre to check out what's left of Spiderbags and to get a good spot for the next set.  However, if you're of age I'd highly recommend stopping at Tir Na Nog to check out The Tender Fruit instead.

The Love Language
11:00 at The Lincoln Theatre
The NC band that barely needs an introduction, The Love Language absolutely exploded over the past year between playing at Coachella and opening for Arcade Fire, and there's no wonder as to why.  They graced the stage of City Plaza for last year's festival and this time they're given one of the longest sets of the night at The Lincoln Theater going on right before Black Lips.  The Love Language know how to command a crowd, Stuart McLamb's got a massive set of pipes that can silence even the loudest of cynics and show goers who don't know when to shut up (don't you hate those), but most importantly he's got a true knack for writing catchy, heartfelt, and unique songs that fans know every word to and leave new-comers begging for more.

Black Lips/J Mascis/Empress Hotel
12:30 at The Lincoln Theater / 12:30 at Fletcher Opera Hall / 12:30 at Deep South
The toss-up that I can't seem to choose between that will ultimately come down to which venue's packing that extra bit of punch.  Fletcher Opera Hall is a new venue for Hopscotch this year and checking out Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis would be a great introduction to this new area.  However, Black Lips would be an incredible closer for the first night of Hopscotch.  Black Lips boast an official rock n' roll attitude to the core, they're one of those groups where you'd seem them on the streets and think "Oh those guys are probably in a band."  They're garage rock to the max with simple but memorable melodies the keep you coming back for more.  However, if I was 21+ then I'd be at Empress Hotel for sure, no question.  This indie-pop outfit captivated crowds at SXSW this year with their lovable harmonies and sun-tinged sounds, the band just immediately gives off these excellent summer vibes.  While September begins the end of summer weather, Empress Hotel will help you relive all of the glory through their entrancing and grandiose pop sounds.

Friday, September 9
City Plaza shows kick off at 5:45 today with Day Parties filling up the afternoon hours.  Definitely the more diverse of the City Plaza lineups, The Dodos will kick everything off and they're personally the Friday City Plaza set I'm most looking forward to.  Their polyrhythms and unique melodies will fill the air for the sure to be anxious crowd for Guided By Voices last set later in the night.  In between the two acts lies Drive-By Truckers, a band that's always been right off my radar but I'm enjoying getting the chance to really check out this time.  The alt-country band has been kicking up their tunes for over a decade and through line-up changes and all the band stands strong and proud.  They're a band I'm looking forward to checking out along with what's understood as being one of the most exciting sets of the whole festival, Friday night headliners Guided By Voices.

Old Bricks
10:00 at White Collar Crime
Missing Wesley Wolfe is unfortunate, but Guided By Voices takes precedent.  However, make sure to catch as much of Old Bricks as possible, one of the Triangle premier live acts without a doubt.  This band full of multi-instrumentalists know how to grab a crowd by the throat and command attention with their powerful and incredibly emotive sounds.  The band's members all have their hands in other pots as well, with Mike Dillon fronting Gross Ghost and Motor Skills (a band composed of the rest of Old Bricks' members) making a name for himself in other territories.  That's what makes Old Bricks all the more incredible, that these guys are such busy individuals but can still reign supreme with these projects.  Whether it be a single show or a festival, seeing Old Bricks is usually the highlight of whatever event they're attending.  Make sure to catch them.

Generationals/John Vanderslice
11:00 at White Collar Crime / 11:00 at Berkley Cafe
Another hard choice that will most likely result in me cutting out early from White Collar Crime, but it's for good reason, while Generationals are an incredibly exciting indie-pop act on the Hopscotch lineup it's not every day that you get the chance to see John Vanderslice.  Vanderslice is not only one of the more prolific songwriters today, but he's also an accomplished producer with Spoon and The Mountain Goats under his belt.  He approaches a traditional method of songwriting with an unconventional means of doing so, either way he's one of the names that made me giddy with excitement when I saw it on the lineup.

Twin Shadow
11:30 at The Lincoln Theatre
I still haven't decided whether or not to leave Vanderslice early to catch as much of Twin Shadow as possible, because this is an artist that's kept me coming back for more this year.  Twin Shadow's debut album Forget was produced by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and released back in 2010, but throughout most of 2011 he's been continuing to pick up steam through festival appearances and opening spots for Florence and The Machine.  Stopping through Raleigh, Twin Shadow will bring his slow brooding new-wave inspired sounds to the stage of The Lincoln Theatre for what's sure to be an incredible set.

12:30 at Kings / 11:30 at Fletcher Opera Hall
It's a toss-up here for me, I feel like I'm almost obligated to see Swans on the account of how incredibly long of a set they've been given (11:30 to closing time at Fletcher) and how infrequent chances are to see this band around the area.  However, the same could be said for Earth who've been arguably just as influential on the music scene as Swans have.  Either way these two bands are guaranteed to have mind blowing sets regardless of your tastes, it really comes down to which one's got a better crowd for me.  Kings is sure to be packed but Fletcher boasts a larger capacity with an intimate vibe.  Hard to choose here so I'll just have to settle for both.  Poor me.  Also of note playing at the same time is Japandroids at The Pour House.

Saturday, September 10
With a powerhouse of a City Plaza lineup, Saturday is where it all ends for Hopscotch.  When I saw The Flaming Lips on the lineup announcement back in April I practically squealed.  I was surrounded by a group of friends and remember just letting out a "Holy shit, The Flaming Lips?!"  Not everyone shared the same excitement...but fuck 'em.  The Flaming Lips at City Plaza is going to be nothing short of mesmerizing and with acts like Superchunk and Dreamers of the Ghetto opening up, the day will be filled with incredible sounds.  The Flaming Lips have a one of a kind life show that feels much more grandiose than any other live act today.  It's a true spectacle and it's incredible to have it going on right in downtown Raleigh.

All Tiny Creatures
9:30 at The Lincoln Theater
A great way to follow up the Lips (missing the first half of this band's set is unfortunate but catching all of The Flaming Lips trumps this for me) is with this incredible experimental post-rock but minimalistic band that I had my eyes opened up to at last year's Hopscotch.  All Tiny Creatures is another band from Thomas Wincek, the multi-instrumentalist of Collections of Colonies of Bees and Volcano Choir (with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver) and their debut album Harbors dropped on Hometapes this year.  All Tiny Creatures are a band that you may find yourself becoming absolutely ensconced in without even realizing it.  Truly mesmerizing.

Gross Ghost/Toro y Moi
10:30 at The Union / 10:30 at The Lincoln Theatre
A hard choice but with Gross Ghost being one of my current favorite local bands it's easy to choose most of Gross Ghost over the chillwave standout of Toro y Moi.  If the possibility of seeing Toro y Moi later in the year in Asheville weren't so strong then this may be a harder decision for me as to when to cut out of The Union and head over to The Lincoln Theatre, but for now it's a primary focus on Gross Ghost for me.  Their lo-fi summery sounds sound vaguely reminiscent of early Love Language, but Mike Dillon puts more than enough of his own spin on the variety.  With infectious melodies (seriously, I was walking around for most of this summer with Lurker in my head) and spot-on phrasings, Gross Ghost takes the cake for me.  However, I'll still be catching as much of Toro y Moi as I can, seeing as they were another early standout on the lineup for me but the scheduling made for some tough decisions.  Oh the woes of dealing with great music festivals.

10:30 at Fletcher Opera Hall
I'll be stopping in late for this show, but it's worth checking out without a doubt.  I first started getting into Bombadil RIGHT before they announced their hiatus after their 2009 effort of Tarpits and Canyonlands, so getting the chance to see them finally is something that I'm incredibly excited over.  This folk-rock group from Durham picked up steam with two strong first albums and are currently working on a third in the same barn where The Decemberists' recorded their latest album.  Bombadil will provide for an incredibly entertaining set, but if it weren't for Shakori Hills coming up so soon I'd be seeing Des Ark at Kings without a doubt.  I still may swing by Kings before Fletcher, but I'll be closing the rest of my night at Fletcher.

Lost in the Trees
12:00 at Fletcher Opera Hall
Lost in the Trees have been here, there, and everywhere over the past year.  The band's finally starting to get some of the success they deserve after signing to Anti and one of the reasons I'm checking out this full set instead of hopping around is due to the fact that this band doesn't get to stop through the Triangle as much anymore with their busy schedule.  While Yelawolf at The Lincoln Theatre will be captivating, Gauntlet Hair at The Union is enticing, and Titus Andronicus at Tir Na Nog is sure to do everything but tear the place down (this was the one band I was hoping wouldn't have a 21+ set but so it goes), Lost in the Trees have won it all over for me.  Other than The Never, this was the first local band I really sank my teeth into back in New Bern in an empty room that used to be our favorite record store.  Back then they had a few more pieces to the band and while they've alleviated the numbers a bit they're still as powerful as ever.  Fletcher Opera Hall is the perfect setting, Lost in the Trees is the perfect closer.

Happy Hopscotching everyone!

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