Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hopscotch Music Festival 2014 Itinerary: Day Two

This year marks a totally new Hopscotch experience for me, a mostly Day Party-less Hopscotch. It feels strange, like I'll have a bit too much energy to last me throughout the weekend. But alas, the woes of finding full-time work. It's a bit of a double-edged sword though, on one hand it's great to not be sore and sweaty when the evening's just starting, but on the other hand it greatly reduces the amount of music I get to see...which is kind of the whole point of this thing. But regardless, I'll be starting my evening once again at City Plaza, but this time for one of the most impressive Plaza lineups since the festival's beginnings. With local figureheads Lonnie Walker seemingly having their big come-back show at City Plaza (I'd imagine it'll be a set filled with mostly new tracks), followed my St. Vincent's new David Byrne-inspired stage show and ended with the indie-rock icons Spoon, City Plaza is going to be a welcomed kick-off to a jam-packed weekend of excellent tunes.

Photo courtesy of Lonnie Walker
Lonnie Walker at City Plaza @ 5:45 pm
It's been quite a few years since Lonnie Walker reigned supreme amidst the local music scene. Their eccentric brand of spastic folk-rock has been long missed in the Triangle, and while they'd play sporadically, there haven't been regularly scheduled Lonnie Walker shows until recently. With a new single out in the world it looks like the band is set for some new music in the near future, which has me all sorts of excited. Newer sets from the band has brilliantly interspersed older favorites like "Grapejuice," "Compass Comforts," and "Back Home Inside With You" alongside newer tracks like their single "All Bombs Away," a track that displays a re-ignited sense of purpose for this beloved local act. They'll serve as a wonderful opener to the indie-rock gatekeepers that will finish off the evening at City Plaza.

Photo courtesy of St. Vincent
St. Vincent at City Plaza @ 6:50 pm
Having seen St. Vincent on her Strange Mercy tour, I've got to admit that I'm ridiculously excited to see just how different her stage show is now after seeing so many different photos and reports of the theatrical event. It appears all of her work with the legendary David Byrne has rubbed off on her showmanship, St. Vincent's set is now run by angular choreography and fuzzed-out guitar solos that thrust the listener into the musical ethos, daydreaming over the guitar goddess before them. Annie Clark has proved to be one of the most prolific artists in recent memory, churning out album after album of incredible material. I'd expect this festival set to feature a nice career-spanning bit of songs while pulling heavily from her latest self-titled album.

Spoon at City Plaza @ 8:00 pm
Spoon is a band that's been pretty integral to the success of the Triangle's music scene despite the origins of the band having little ties to the region. They're one of Merge Records' most successful acts, standing tall alongside folks like Arcade Fire as one of the label's Top 10 charting acts. Their no-frills brand of pop-leaning indie rock has been evolving steadily since their beginnings in 1993, and now with the recent release of They Want My Soul they've found themselves back in the limelight. With some stellar songwriting that's been elevated by unforgettable hooks, their headlining set at City Plaza will be one for the Hopscotch record books. Folks of all ages will be packed in tightly, singing along to these anthemic tracks, which is one of the finest parts of a festival like Hopscotch.

Photo courtesy of Crowdsource
Crowdsource at The Pour House @ 9:30 pm
It's become a bit of a tradition to duck out of City Plaza a little early to try and catch the first acts of the night, and so far it's been an excellent decision. I'd imagine this one will go quite the same, as Crowdsource is hands down one of the most exciting new acts in the region...when he's here! Crowdsource is the new project behind musical visionary Phil Torres, who recently gained local acclaim through his folktronica project Baobab. Digging deeper into the electronic rabbit hole, Torres now crafts an entrancing blend of sounds that range from obscure samples from Nas and Jay-Z to refugees wailing or double-rainbow exclamations to classically inspired MIDI-riffs. To top it off, Torres seems to have perfected the visual aesthetic of the show as well, blending some seriously psyched-out scenes to the projector behind him. Mixing it all live, Crowdsource is a multi-media project unlike any other, and an excellent way to get yourself dancing through this Friday night.

Photo courtesy of Celestial Shore
Celestial Shore at Fletcher Opera Hall @ 10:30 pm
Celestial Shore is an act I've been meaning to catch for quite some time now. Since I learned that Sam Owens is related to the guitarist/songwriting wunderkind Zannie Owens from New Bern, I knew I had to check out this band and surely enough I wasn't disappointed. One minute Celestial Shore will have you gliding along on cloud-like melodies one second and then have you thrashing about wildly the next. It's as if you had Beach Boys inspired melodies with Dirty Projectors' style rhythmic shifts. They're frequently playing out with Ava Luna, another frenetic band that thrives on swift rhythmic alterations, so I'd expect a similar experience from this excellent trio from New York. Fletcher will provide excellent acoustics for a show like this, allowing listeners to soak in all of the intricacies of their songs, and perhaps even have themselves a nice seated show from a fresh, mind blowing act.

Photo courtesy of Allyce Andrew
Mas Ysa at CAM Raleigh @ 11:30
 The one-two punch of Mas Ysa and Nguzunguzu is probably one of my favorite last-minute finds of this year's festival. At first it was a bit of a toss-up as to where my Friday night would take me, while Sun Kil Moon at Lincoln would be an awesome way to close things out, festivals like Hopscotch aren't always the best setting for quieter artists (unless of course you're at Fletcher, then all bets are off). So with two open blocks I scoured the lineup and found these two back-to-back at CAM, the Hopscotch mecca for me this year. Mas Ysa is a folk-leaning electronic artist that bridges atmospheric soundscapes with danceable rhythms and pop structures. This New York-based composer blends field recordings into his mixes to make for a more organic feel, and once that all meshes together with his attention-grabbing vocal presence it makes for an incredible sound that's unparalleled amongst the Hopscotch lineup.

Photo courtesy of Nguzunguzu
Nguzunguzu at CAM Raleigh @ 12:30
Their name may be hard to pronounce, but their music is some of the most easy to palate on the entire line-up. Nguzunguzu is a powerhouse duo out of L.A that's best known for crafting R&B leaning productions that blend spacey aesthetics with forceful polyrhythms and grimey, bass-heavy synths to leave you awash in mystery but compelled to groove. This year's Hopscotch lineup is heavily dance oriented for me, which I have absolutely zero problem with. Going into electronic artists with a bit of ignorance is always a great thing, you don't know what kind of stage set-up to expect, how they'll execute their live show or really anything other than the fact that you're probably about to dance your ass off. That's really all you need to know when you step foot into CAM on Friday night, so leave your inhibitions at the door and leave the rest on the dance floor.

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