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Thread: Hopscotch 2012

  1. #31

    Default Re: Hopscotch 2012

    Free day parties announced! Really excited about a couple of these.

  2. #32

    Default Re: Hopscotch 2012

    So a few people on here have expressed interest in reading about my experience. Here goes.

    I decided to go to this fest based solely on the lineup. I did little to no research on logistics, didn't know anyone who lived in the state (or the South in general for that matter), and basically went in blind. I've ended up having a ton of loyalty to Hopscotch, because the execution was seamless and there were so many things I liked about it: the intimacy of the venues, the huge variety of acts to choose from (both in terms of number and style), the uniqueness of the sets, the amazing free day parties, and of course, the artists playing.

    This year Hopscotch was held at 15 venues, with music always going on in about half of them at any given time. 13 were very small: some, like The Hive, were just bars that you could sit at the end of and be a couple feet away from the artist. The two big ones were Memorial Auditorium, which fit 2000 people, and Fletcher Opera Theater, which fit 600 or so. By the way - the longest walk I had, between the two venues furthest from each other, was under 15 minutes. They are really packed in tight in there!

    Started off Thursday with a couple different day parties. Everything was merely just "pretty pleasant" (mostly local stuff) until I saw the noisy, aggressive, abrasive jazz fusion band Trioscapes. As the name implies, they are three guys - a drummer, sax player, and bassist, and they ripped. There were maybe 15 people sitting on the floor around them, soaking in the intensity of the performance and the incidental noises of the thunderstorm outside (which I soaked in quite literally on the way back to my hotel immediately after)

    Started out the paid festival shows with Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp, who put out a very jammy, hypnotic record called Early Astral at the very tail end of last year. They played at Long View Center, which is or was a small church. They performed the the two album tracks to a tee and one or two other songs that I thought were just okay. Afteward, I ran over to see Thomas Phillips & Craig Hilton put on a quiet, but overall pretty great doom metal set at the Hive. Headed back to Long View in time to catch some of Chuck Johnson, a native son of Raleigh and a damn fine classical-ish guitarist. After that I saw Bill Orcutt - formerly of Harry Pussy - do a solo acoustic guitar set of an entirely different kind. I'd been told by a number of people whose taste I trust not to skip Orcutt, and I kept listening to How The Thing Sings off and on before the fest to get into it. It wasn't clicking, until the day of when my repeated listens and views of the few live youtube videos started to pay off. Got really excited for his set actually: I wasn't sure if I'd love it, or hate it. Orcutt plays with unusual tunings and chrods, and the result is a rather thorny, sort of messy sound. He's also quite fast, so it can be a bit of an aural assault (hat tip to Bryan for using this phrase to describe Swans the other day, I enjoyed it so I stole it). Simply said I fucking loved his set. I was impressed by his technical skill and I thought the music was quite beautiful actually, with a great blues sensibility. Dude might take the slot as my favorite solo guitarist now. Biggest regret of Hopscotch: only staying for 20 minutes of Orcutt so that I could run to Fletcher Opera Theater and catch Matthew E. White.

    But it's not that I regret seeing Matthew E. White; only that I missed parts of Orcutt. So, Hopscotch did a lot to make certain sets unique, one time things. Matthew White's debut "solo" record is not a solo record at all, but rather a launch of a record label featuring 30 musicians from Richmond Virginia. For the first and only time, White performed the full album on stage with each and every one of those musicians, including strings, brass, woodwinds, keys, guitars, drums, and even a conductor. The album is heavy on religious references but it's got some old style soul/gospel stuff going on that I really like musically. The record comes off sounding a bit subdued but the show was surpisingly dancey and the crowd (myself included) loved it.

    Friday: This day was unreal. Three Lobed Records and the local radio station put on a free day party to put all other free shows ever to shame. First North American show (and only second ever) by Alan Bishop (of Sun City Girls/Alvarius B) / Bill Orcutt / Chris Corsano trio - who were so loud, agressive, and awesomely high energy that it was impossible not to love - another set by Chuck Johnson whom I enjoyed even more the second time; a beautiful performance by local country/folk band Hiss Golden Messenger (as a trio, later that night I saw their first ever performance as a full band) whom I have since grown quite enchanted with, and the first ever performance of a David Daniell / Oren Ambarchi duo (joined halfway through by Corsano on drums). There was more after, but I decided to rest. But all of those acts were incredible. Daniell / Ambarchi floored me, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has paid attention to my 2012 favorites (heavy on the Ambarchi works). The day party also provided the most hilarious moments of the fest: after finishing their set, Alan Bishop grabbed a handful of something, said "Here's some expired condoms, go fuck yourselves!" and threw them into the crowd, and immediately before Daniell / Ambarchi, some drunk asshole jumped on stage and started shout-singing about occupying wall street (and occupying microphones!), and as he was escorted off stage, dropped the container of mayonaise he had been saving for later in his pocket.

    That night I saw Zammutto and Built to Spill out at the City Plaza. Really enjoyed Zammuto and despite liking Built to Spill in general and them playing an all hits-setlist, I wasn't too into it. Followed it up by solo sets by Corsano (about 30 people came to the 2000 seat Memorial Auditorium to see him; quote Chris: "my ego barely fits in this room (it's a joke)". everyone else was at Jesus and Mary Chain). then watched finger-picker extraordinare Glenn Jones (who used to tour with Jack Rose). Followed up with the full band set by Hiss Golden Messenger I mentioned earlier (amazing!) and ended the night with two hours of solo Mountain Goats (my 5th time seeing JD solo in less than 9 months). Another one of those unique one-time Hopscotch sets: one hour of rarities, one hour of metal covers on piano with vocal trio (weird as hell and kind of geeky but strangely awesome).

    The next day I was too damn tired to go to the day parties (despite being some awesome choices), but the night was all about drone. Saw Quiet Evenings (ambient duo from Georgia), followed by Jacaszek (modern classical from Poland) at Long View, ran over to catch Oren Ambarchi but left after 15 minutes because it seemed pretty similar to what he did during Friday's day party and one of my favorite musicians alive, Colin Stetson, was playing at the same time. Unfortunately, the only hiccup I encountered at Hopscotch happened during his set. Stetson has to have one of the most simple sound setups: turn on and set levels for five microphones. Sound guy was drunk or high or incompent (or all of the above) as it took him 35 minutes to do it. So instead of seeing almost an hour of Stetson (or a full hour of Ambarchi, or a full hour of Laurel Halo), I got to stick around for one song before running back to Memorial for Sunn O)))

    As soon as Sunn started playing though, I forgot all grievances. They had a massive arrangement of amplifiers with them and supposedly could be heard 3-4 blocks north of the (indoor) venue, depending on who you ask. The sheer volume, the subtle changes throughout, and the great visuals made it a jaw dropping experience. I mean, quite literally, I had my mouth hanging open the whole time. It was a superb way to end the fest: with quite possibly the best live performance I have ever seen.

    For anyone who read this far, thanks for bearing with my total inability to write skillfully about music. If you have any interest in seeing experimental music in small venues, consider Hopscotch next year. I sure hope I'll make it back.

  3. #33
    Coachella Junkie stinkbutt's Avatar
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    Mar 2008

    Default Re: Hopscotch 2012

    What does Sunn have for visuals now?

  4. #34

    Default Re: Hopscotch 2012

    Just a giant plume of fog, Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson in robes, and Atilla in robes and a mask moving theatrically. For whatever reason it was pretty mindblowing though.

  5. #35

    Default Re: Hopscotch 2012

    Oh, also: the Three Lobed day party was broadcast over the radio, so I figured they also recorded it. Apparently there's some consideration of putting the Bishop/Orcutt/Corsano and Daniell/Ambarchi/Corsano sets as formal, official releases. Here's hoping!

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