Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Show Review: Hopscotch Music Festival 2013, Day 2

A-Trak @ City Plaza
14 hours of live music will take something out of you--I can attest to that. But the prospect of another full day of even more exciting festivities is enough to push me to drag my ass out of bed and immerse myself in a whole new day of beer drinking, fried food gorging and most importantly live music consumption. Hopscotch's three-day run is a unique festival experience, I've trekked out to Bonnaroo and know the woes of spending your days camping in the sun, but Hopscotch is an equally exhausting experience believe it or not.

However, one of my favorite parts of Hopscotch is the ability to revisit some of these acts--whether they be local or not--that you haven't seen in years and suddenly stumble upon. That's what my day was filled with on Friday, an afternoon of high-energy rock music from a wide array of genres. I begrudgingly attended my Friday class and made it downtown just in time for Last Year's Men to begin their set at Slim's. Last time I saw these guys was ironically enough at Hopscotch...at Slim's, so this was definitely a familiar environment for me. Their buzzing brand of garage rock continues to wow me as I experience the band in this tightly packed setting that is absurdly conducive to their sound.

After Last Year's Men finished up their raucous set I checked out The Everymen from New Jersey behind Slim's. Of course I feasted on free booze and veggie burgers, but the highlight of this experience was most definitely the discovery of an absolutely wonderful live act. The Everymen packed out Slim's back porch despite the beating sun and rocked harder than anyone I saw on Friday (including Valient Thorr). At one point the keyboardist picked up his instrument and pulled out a rocking behind the head solo which is arguably the most rock and roll thing a keyboardist can do. Their lively set even drew a crowd of underaged kids on the adjacent parking deck which everyone began to gawk over as well. All in all Slim's served as an awesome kickstart for my Friday.

Valient Thorr @ CAM
From Slim's I made the trek out to Contemporary Art Museum to see what Colossus was all about. Though I'm familiar with their music, their recordings just feel a bit too static for me. However, their live energy was something that turned me into a believer. I've been pretty blind to the local metal scene, but Colossus opened up a door for me that I'm incredibly interested in checking out. Through songs about an impending zombie apocalypse to tracks from an upcoming "concept album about video games,"Colossus provided an unabashed blast of in-your-face metal tunes. However, the CAM highlight was easily the other-worldly antics of Valient Thorr. The last time I caught this act was the final year of Troika, many moons ago. This set was far more energetic and invigorating, Valient Himself came out donning a hero-esque cloak that he tossed off to reveal a hilariously badass jean-vest with a three-eyed tiger on the back. When they pulled out fan-favorite "Heatseeker" Himself instructed the crowd to "throw up your rocket launchers like you're about to bomb Syria," which serves as a testament to the type of energy these guys were giving off. Absolutely unhinged rock n' roll that filled me with a fuck the world type feeling. This spontaneous burst of badassery was immediately swept away when I checked out Thurston Moore at Kings. Though the venue was at capacity I stood inside for about 5 minutes or so before the experimental noise-rock swept away all of the feelings of excitement that I had about Moore. Just totally not my thing.

Future Islands @ City Plaza
So with that failed attempt at posting up at Kings behind me, it was off to City Plaza! Gross Ghost kicked off the evening and if you've been reading The Bottom String for more than a year or so now then you're totally aware of how enamored I am by this band. Gross Ghost fit in perfectly with a bill that was predominately filled with dance-oriented acts, mostly because their stupidly catchy hooks can sink into the minds of any given listener. The band debuted a slew of material from their upcoming full-length Public Housing which sounds like an incredibly promising record. From there former Greenville residents Future Islands took the stage and absolutely slayed all of City Plaza. Those who had never seen Future Islands were surely overwhelmed by their emotionally intensive performance, Sam Herring's visceral vocals and chest-pounding stage antics are enough to reel in even the most indifferent of City Plaza attendees.

After Future Islands City Plaza surprisingly cleared out a bit, which is one of the few times of the festival I really thought, "damn, I wish Big Boi was still here." However, once Holy Ghost! took the stage all of those thoughts were a memory as their 80s-inspired electronica filled the air with ridiculously catchy melodies. The set felt never-ending in the best way possible. There was minimal stage banter and a heavy amount of disco-infused dance tracks that made me feel downright bad for posting up on the fountain and eating dinner. But alas, a man's gotta eat! When A-Trak took the stage one could have never guessed that local indie rockers Gross Ghost had played the same venue hours before. A flock of glowsticks and light-up toys emerged in the crowd and A-Trak's blasting bass took over the entire plaza. Pulling out Missy Elliott remixes alongside Major Lazer tracks, A-Trak had the crowd in his hands and he knew it damn well, he conducted this performance like a master of his craft with excellent pacing throughout the entirety. However, I had to jet early to post-up at Memorial Auditorium for a good spot at Local Natives.

Local Natives @ Memorial Auditorium
I caught the last few songs of High Highs and was incredibly disappointed at the fact that I hadn't checked out more of their set, but the main reason for stopping through was Local Natives. So after enjoying a few minutes in Memorial's seats (Hopscotch VIP without a doubt), I darted up front for one of my most anticipated sets of the festival. Local Natives got on about 20 minutes late, but with Action Bronson canceling my conflicts were mostly solved. Despite their late start, fans chanted and swayed along to the entrancing sounds of Local Natives. There was an even mix of early and new material, but when both of your albums are equally brilliant there's really no concern over an uneven mix. Tracks like their Talking Heads cover of "Warning Sign" (which was dedicated to The Love Language) and "You & I"displayed the band's tight chemistry, they're ridiculously on-point live and brought out everything I could have ever wanted to see. After a while I headed back to the seats to enjoy their show which made the evening even better!

I made it to CAM just as Mykki Blanco was ending his set and saw a good bulk of the crowd on-stage, which is usually a sign that you just missed a bad-ass show. However, all was well once Ryan Hemsworth took the stage. Seamlessly combining remixes and original material, Hemsworth appealed to a wide array of audience members. He pulled out "Take Me There" from the Rugrats movie and the crowd went wild, but at the same time he can play his Lana Del Ray remix and get folks just as pumped up. Hemsworth was easily on of the night's highlights, maybe that's because I sweated out all of my alcohol at the show so it's got a nice restoring effect for me, but I do know that if Hemsworth makes his way anywhere near here again there's no doubt I'm checking it out. He put on a brilliant show and left me crazily exhausted for the next day of festivities.

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