Monday, September 1, 2014

Hopscotch Music Festival 2014 Itinerary: Day One

Now that Hopscotch week is upon us, the time has come to buckle down and determine exactly where I need to be going to each night. With the first ever Thursday City Plaza show, the evening gets kicked off with two high-energy hip-hop acts that will hopefully provide me with the boost of adrenaline I'll be needing to get to all of the shows I need to see throughout the night. Starting things off with Tune & The Real Law and ending with trap pioneer Lunice gives a pretty good indicator that it'll be a night filled with dance-driven, bass-heavy sets from some impressive locals and nationally renown artists.

Photo courtesy of Toon & The Real Laww
Toon & The Real Laww
at City Plaza @ 7:00 pm
Toon & The Real Laww are one of the area's most underrated live acts and when they kick off the Hopscotch festivities on Thursday they'll surely grasp the attention of quite a few new fans as they open up for the legendary De La Soul. Toon & The Real Laww mix club-ready beats with impressive lyrical acrobatics and crowd-pleasing tracks. By the end of the set the festivalgoers will likely be shouting along in unison as Proffessor Toon and The Real Laww command different halves of the crowd, enlisting them as rhythmic tools for their tracks. Hopefully they'll have their full band set-up, one that blends crunching guitars with breakbeat rhythms and thunderous bass, but if not their two-man set-up with a DJ is still pretty perplexing.

Photo courtesy of De La Soul
De La Soul
at City Plaza @ 8:00 pm
This iconic hip-hop trio is the perfect headliner for the first ever Thursday City Plaza show. The fondest memory I have of the first ever Hopscotch was dancing amidst a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at Public Enemy as the rain poured down and the music blared on. De La Soul represents an area of early 90s hip-hop that's sonically miles away from Public Enemy, but will likely boast similar vibes. Socially conscious, non-violent lyrics meld together with jazz-inspired rhythms to create a sound that's as dancey and upbeat as it is heady and introspective. It's an excellent way to kick off the first night of Hopscotch, with some no-frills mind-blowing hip-hop.

Photo courtesy of Wild Fur
Wild Fur at Lincoln Theatre @ 8:30 pm
Wild Fur begins shortly after De La Soul, so I'll likely be missing the first 15 minutes or so of Wild Fur, but surely I'll be able to recover. This electronically driven-duo is fleshed out as a four piece band that highlights the songwriting prowesses of Nick Jaeger and Wylie Hunter. While their previous work had leaned on Americana influences with some indie-pop thrown in the mix, Wild Fur is an amorphous musical entity that lies within a genre of its own. It's a darker tinged brand of neo-soul that still feels rustic at heart. I've been able to see their live set-up at Tir Na Nog recently for Local Band Local Beer and it's one you'll definitely want to catch, at least for a few songs.

Sun Club at Lincoln Theatre/Body Games at Kennedy Theatre @ 9:30 pm
Photo Credit: Grant Golden
Ah, the first conflict of the night. As always, I'm usually torn between catching sets from beloved locals and infrequently visiting touring bands. I'll likely start this block off at Lincoln to see Sun Club, a bizarre psych-pop act from Baltimore that feels vaguely reminiscent of early Animal Collective. Sun Club's latest release Dad Claps at the Mom Prom was a captivating album that simply felt constrained by their studio limitations. Not to say that the album isn't impressive, but it's clear that Sun Club thrives off of their live energy, and that makes them a must-see for the evening. I'll likely drag myself away mid-way through the set to head down to Kennedy Theatre to check out what's left of Body Games.

Body Games is one of the locals I've grown most excited about lately. They're blending dream-pop roots with heady electronic beats and entrancing visual projections, making for a truly immersive live experience. Last year they were the highlight of Hopscotch day one solely for their Lion King projection and Michael Jackson cover, so I'd imagine they'll be pulling out the stops for this Kennedy Theatre set as well.

Photo Credit: Grant Golden
Marley Carroll at Kennedy Theatre @ 10:30 pm
Any time I get the chance to see Marley Carroll live I feel obligated to jump on it. This Asheville based producer is one of the most exciting electronic artists I've come across in recent years. Not only does he craft enormous productions filled with tightly backed grooves and etherial melodies, he's also putting on one hell of a performance as he balances between an analog keyboard and turntables. Carroll will keep you entranced with his spacey soundscapes, only to rip you from your daydream with a pounding bass drum and syncopated rhythm. He's got originals like "The Hunter" and "Speed Reader" that'll linger in your head for days, but he's also capable of pulling out devastatingly dancy remixes of folks like Lotus or Polish Ambassador. He's truly earned his moniker of "the producer's producer" or "the DJ's DJ" or whatever the hell you want to call him. I prefer to simply call him fantastic.

Photo courtesy of Deniro Farrar
Deniro Farrar
at Kennedy Theatre @ 11:30 pm
While I'm admittedly not as excited for Deniro Farrar as I am the rest of the acts on the bill for Thursday night, staying around Kennedy just makes sense on a night like this. While I may hop over to Fletcher Opera Hall momentarily to see what's happening with IIII, a massive drum-ensemble taking place at 11:00,  it's only logical to end my 11:30 slot at Kennedy as I'm sure there'll be droves of folks trying to check out Lunice afterwards. Deniro is definitely an act I've been interested in seeing though. This Charlotte based hip-hop artist grinded his way through the Charlotte scene and broke out fairly quickly by signing to Vice/Warner Bros. label back in 2013, earning quite the name for himself in the process. Farrar raps in sharply spat bursts over a wide array of beats ranging from producers like Ryan Hemsworth and Flosstradamus to Blue Sky Black Death and Lunice himself. His beats are always on-point and his flow is unparalleled, a stinging rasp that always feels on the cusp of something larger. He'll be an excellent transition into the evening's main event.

Photo courtesy of Lunice
Lunice at Kennedy Theatre @ 12:30 pm
When I first saw the schedule upon release, Thursday night at Kennedy immediately struck me as one of the strongest bills on the entire lineup. It's an excellent mix of some of the most beloved uprising locals with nationally renown artists of a similar style. While Body Games and Marley Carroll lean towards dancy electronic, Farrar and Lunice stray more towards heavy, bass-driven hip-hop stylings that'll rattle your bones and compel you to move in strange ways that your body's never done before. Lunice is best known as one half of the trap gods TNGHT, and while my dreams of seeing that power-duo at Hopscotch are out the door, the only way I could top seeing Lunice in my own town is by seeing HudMo as well. But obviously that won't be happening this weekend, so getting the chance to see this prolific producer in the prime of his career is a chance you'd be foolish to miss. While there's plenty of other incredible acts performing at the same time (Thurston Moore, The War on Drugs, Landlady, Reptar, etc), Lunice is an artist that demands attention. Blazing hi-hats cut through the mix as roaring sub-bass interplays with piercing melodies, creating a bizarre yet cohesive sound that makes you want to throw your hands up and trap-arm until your body collapses onto the floor. Which I'd imagine is likely how I'll end my first night of Hopscotch.

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