Usually by Day Three all pre-planned schedules are off for me. It's to wherever seems the most reasonable, comfortable, less-packed, etc. That's usually lent itself to some pretty incredible nights, but alas that's not the game plan this time. Saturday is arguably my favorite day of the schedule, and while I may not garner as much interest in the City Plaza hard rock-fest as others, it's still a ridiculous lineup from top to bottom. This will be the first day of the festival that I get to check out the Day Parties and I'll likely be bouncing between the Trekky/Hometapes Party at The Pour House, Reverbnation's Party at Deep South and Legends' Let Feedback Ring Party, a trio of shows that bring together some of the best locals and touring artists of the festival. After all of the day partying it'll be time to mosey on down to City Plaza for one of the most energetic, engaging metal acts I've ever had the joy of seeing.
|Photo credit: Grant Golden|
Last year's CAM set from Valient Thorr was one of my favorite shows at Hopscotch, the dudes simply know how to put on a show. You're liable to see Valient Himself trotting around the stage with his badass denim jacket flailing to-and-fro as he manically mounts speakers and shoots imaginary cannons, and frankly who's not down with that? They'll be an excellent way to open the heaviest night of City Plaza in history, they're an easily palatable hard rock band that's got crowd control down pat. If you're thinking about skipping out on the early City Plaza shows on Saturday, then maybe reconsider to check this crew out.
|Photo courtesy of Death|
Death is one of those bands I've always had the pleasure of hearing about, so I know how iconic they are throughout the history of punk rock and music in general. Death is credited as one of, if not the, first black punk band and really helped fuel the uprising of Detroit punk in the 70s. They'd been broken up for decades, but in the past few years a reunion and acclaimed documentary A Band Called Death has thrust the band back into the spotlight. I'd imagine a lot of drunken flailing around to be going on close up at City Plaza, and most importantly a lot of really confused non-concert goers. People watching will be in its prime here folks.
|Photo courtesy of Mastodon|
Little is left to be said of the massive metal band Mastodon. They've gradually ascended to mainstream stardom thanks to their consistently excellent releases since 2002's Remission, and since their beginnings they've been slowly expanding upon their sound to create a more broad appeal for fans. With Valient Thorr and Death opening up the evening, things will surely roll easily into Mastodon's highly anticipated set as the first metal headliner of the festival. Mastodon's City Plaza set feels like a true coming-out party for Hopscotch metal, the festival has long been home to some of the genre's most celebrated acts but never before have they been blasting throughout the streets of downtown Raleigh. If only that debutante ball could see us now.
|Photo courtesy of See Gulls|
When this lineup dropped See Gulls was one of the new local acts I knew that I had to check out. I'd heard rumblings of this female-centric garage rock group, but hadn't had the fortune of seeing them live until a few months back. Fronted by Sarah Fuller, formerly of The Big Picture, See Gulls boasts a seriously raucous live energy that puts a grittier spin on their already fuzzed out anthems. Songs that may have started out as little folk diddies are turned into full-on punk rock bangers. With Maria Albani (Schooner, Organos) on drums and Duncan Webster (Hammer No More The Fingers, Beauty World) and Leah Gibson (Lost in the Trees, Beauty World) on guitar and bass, this local supergroup of sorts is most definitely worthy of an early leave from City Plaza.
When I first saw funkss amidst a sea of underage badkids that were boasting of the 40s and blunts they downed in the parking lot of a Yung Lean show, he served a messiah of sorts. Lifting me up from the shoulder to shoulder bro-sweat with their backwards snapbacks and psychedelic tank-tops and into a dark, yet danceable land of aggressive electronic music. It's a bit hard to categorize these songs, but there's really little need to as well. It's music that transplants you to a different headspace, allowing you to lose yourself in the deep rhythms and brooding melodies.
|Photo courtesy of Alexandra Sauser-Monnig|
It's always important to remember that Hopscotch is a marathon, not a race. While I'd love to stay at The Pour House and dance myself ragged until How To Dress Well/Jamie XX, it's impotant to pace yourself. That's why sets like this one are so damn important. Not only will one-third of the gorgeously harmonic folk trio Mountain Man be at Fletcher, but there'll also be cozy seats and probably quite a few nappers. But frankly, if you're literally sleeping on Alexandra Sauser-Monnig then you're making a huge mistake. This'll likely be comparable to the Angel Olsen set at last year's Hopscotch, a set filled with insanely quiet concertgoers soaking in the breathtaking sounds of this passionate folk singer.
|Photo courtesy of How To Dress Well|
I didn't think that picking How To Dress Well would be the hardest decision of my Hopscotch this year, but they're going up against the local superstar T0W3RS. T0W3RS will be pulling out all the stops with a special full-band performance at The Pour House that'll likely be filled to capacity. Unfortunately though, it's hard to always pick the beloved local over a high-profile touring artist that doesn't come through very frequently. How To Dress Well is on the heels of What Is This Heart? a fully realized neo-soul/R&B work of art that surpasses any and all expectations I had of this highly touted songwriter. CAM is the perfect place for these low-end heavy croons to fill the airwaves, and with Jamie XX closing out the evening there's little reason to leave.
|Photo courtesy of Jamie XX|
For quite some time I was largely ignorant of the excellence of Jamie XX. I'd seen stories of his Gil Scott-Heron remix album, I knew he was the producer-side of The XX, but that was about it. I hadn't realized how incredible of an artist he was until I physically saw The XX at The Lincoln this past spring. The melancholy melodies up front were the last thing I was paying attention to, it was all about that thunderous bass and gorgeous synths that were making my brain shake and my teeth chatter. Jamie XX's work is crafted to envelop the listener, allow them to wrap themselves in these immense sounds that are arranged so minimalistically that it just works. Jamie XX can pick up a groove and run with it, and frankly a sweaty dance party is without a doubt one of the best ways to close out a Hopscotch. And I say that from experience.