Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Whither Festivus: Hopscotch 2011 Recap - Friday

As a spritely young lass, I would sometimes join some spritely friends in playing hopscotch. To the under-7 set, it was a great time. Now, as a slightly less-spritely, definitely older lass, I'm getting my hopscotch kicks once again. No, not in the schoolyard way. This latest breed of Hopscotch is a thousand light years better. I speak instead of the one and only Hopscotch Music Festival, down Raleigh way, that offers the serious music out-of-town music addict a long weekend full of great times. New bands! Old bands! Everyone in between bands! My first Hopscotch was a everything I could have hoped for, and quite possibly even more.

Sadly, I had to miss the opening day festivities on Thursday, but so goes the harsh realities of gainful employment. But that was all well and good, really, because I was still verily entertained over the course of the weekend. After checking into my hotel I made my way to City Plaza, to partake in gaping at none other than Guided By Voices. I mean, Guided By daggum Voices, y'all. Sure, they've done the so long, farewell thing a time or two, but I'm so glad to have been able to see them before their official last goodbye. The Plaza was packed, as one would expect for such a venerable band. At one point I caught sight of some kiddos with Wonka Bar boxes on their heads. Hot freaks, indeed. I couldn't really see GBV all that well, but I sure could hear them. And what I heard, friends, was damned amazing.

The perfection of songs like "Exit Flagger" and "My Valuable Hunting Knife" and "I Am A Scientist" was, well, perfect. "Hot Freaks" caused quite a stir amongst the assembled masses. The band's sound was big and booming, and quite possibly even more glorious than what I had hoped for. The origins of "14 Cheerleader Cold Front" were explained, in a story about 14 beautiful blondes cheering to no one but themselves. There was a lovely little clapalong to "King of Pricks," as the crowd in the Plaza got more and more loved up on some GBV. It was a special thing indeed, seeing Guided By Voices right there in the middle of downtown Raleigh. And despite it taking years to happen, I don't think I could have asked for a better first GBV experience.

Hopscotch could have ended right then and there, when GBV left the stage and said goodnight, and it would have been worth the drive. But those lovely festival organizers had plenty more where that came from, oh yes! I linked up with my dear friend Kat and some lovely local fellers and headed over to White Collar Crime to see those Big Easy dreamboats of Generationals. Old Bricks was just finishing up, and I was a little sad not to have seen more than just a few notes of their set. I definitely dug White Collar Crime as a venue (and their cute crime-themed decor), but something was mildly amiss in terms of sound during the Generationals set. The place was packed beyond belief, speaking to the popularity of those lovable lads from New Orleans. "Nobody Could Change Your Mind," always a pleasure to hear, was a crowd (and personal) favorite, the band laying down that sunshine retro beat groove on the heaving masses from the get-go. During their set, a very drunken girl attempted to play matchmaker and introduce me to some dude with the intro, "Y'all should makeout." Ted and Grant, if you're listening, your music elicits random acts of drunken matchmaking. I swooned as I always do over "Exterior Street Date," and the rest of the jam-packed horde got down good and proper. The band, too, was bouncing all over the place in performance glee. Despite the questionable sound, I wouldn't trade having seen these folks one more time.

We then headed over to the Berkeley Cafe to see Mount Moriah, only to discover upon arrival that the small space was under siege by other people who had had just that same idea. We stuck around to hear a little of the band's haunting, beautiful mountain melodies, and I made a mental note to revisit Mount Moriah on my own time. We then trekked down to King's Barcade, so I could endeavor to introduce the wonderful world of Liturgy's black metal into the lives of my companions, but that proved futile as we arrived just after the end of their set. Timing, my friends, is indeed everything. We ended up finishing off the night taking in a little of The Foreign Exchange's set at the lovely, formerly very grand Lincoln Theatre. I was still giddy from my one and only Stuart McLamb sighting of the weekend, outside before the set began, but this was soon worn away by sleepiness. We didn't last long, any of us, and the big beats and huge sound of The Foreign Exchange was no match for any of our tiredness.

My first day of my first Hopscotch was an absolute treat. I was really impressed with the bands, with the venues, with the relative ease at getting to each venue, and even with the folks at the festival. People were there to have a good time and take in some good music, and the vibe of the night reflected that. What a night.

mp3: Exterior Street Date (Generationals from Con Law)

[photo by Megan Petty]


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