Thursday, November 10, 2011

Whither Festivus: Hopscotch 2011 Recap - Saturday

After a most excellent first day of Hopscotch, I felt it appropriate to sleep in rockstar late (we're talking after noon here, which I almost never get to do). I also began my enjoyment of Saturday's festivities on the late side, missing the day parties and taking things in only after the sun went down.

Up first on my list was The Flaming Lips, gracing the stage at that very same City Plaza that the night before played host to Guided By Voices. Which, if you think about it, is a lot of legend to have in one place over the course of one weekend. The Flaming Lips, as with GBV the night before, was another band I hadn't ever managed to see. It was a sore point in my live musical history, I assure you. It seemed fitting, somehow, that as I approached the Plaza the band was smack in the middle of "She Don't Use Jelly," the very first Lips song I ever did hear. Lovable bandleader Wayne Coyne was encouraging (to quoth the man himself, "begging") a singalong, and as the crowd sang "Taaaaaaangerine," and people were waving their outstretched arms, a gentle breeze began to blow, and led to quite a beautiful moment. The (probably expected) presence of supersized balloons floating around the crowd added to the atmosphere I had expected to encounter at a Flaming Lips show.

It was a splendid thing to hear the "Yoshimi" drama in the flesh, and as you might imagine it made the heaving crowd of onlookers very happy indeed to hear that song pairing. It was during this song that I heard a gentleman close to me tell a friend that he had a man crush on Wayne Coyne. I'm pretty sure I'd feel the same way, were I not a lady. As it happens, I happen to have a crush on Wayne Coyne. I took in what seemed like hours of the fantastic, plastic spacecake timewarp rock that is The Flaming Lips, though it was just over an hour at best. While it was beyond great to finally see them live, I probably would prefer to experience them in a smaller, indoor venue. Something felt a little too loose about the set, things just sort of ambled and blended into one giant song almost. And so, I bid the Lips adieu, and set off for smaller, more intimate confines.

I made my way thusly over to King's Barcade, to see too cute New Yorkers The Hairs in a set I was really looking forward to. When it was all said and done, I think The Hairs ended up being my joint favorite band of the weekend (along with Guided By Voices). They were adorable from the very beginning of their set, when they bashfully announced, "OK, this is our first thing," before launching into some of the glorious retrofuzzery. Their second song caused quite a grin, throwing a cheeky nod towards My Bloody Valentine with the title "Feed Me With Your Emails." This is a band that ranks pretty dang high on the Megan Wants to Pinch Their Collective Cheek scale. I got a consistent Flying Nun vibe from the band, that is to say their simplicity and charm was much akin to the peak of bands like The Clean and The Bats. Very lo-fi and very swoonworthy. Also, a shout-out to King's Barcade for their awesome air-conditioning. Well played, y'all. I had to leave before their set was over, but I was happy to have seen them. Watch this space for more on The Hairs, friends. More love is coming.

After a brief, pleasant walk I found myself over at Tir Na Nog to catch a couple bands, the first of which was Californians Man/Miracle. After deciding I liked Tir Na Nog, it didn't take long before I decided I also liked Man/Miracle, quite a bit actually. They were a smidge poppier than I had expected, but still their swirling sound warmed the cockles of my heart a few degrees. After a brief interlude in which the venue played, to my delight, A Place To Bury Strangers, the place began to really get packed and Beach Fossils began to play a great little set. I will never tire of seeing Beach Fossils live. They started with "The Horse," a perfect song to get their indiepop jangle on to. They hadn't even started song #2 ("Sometimes") before the venue was so full that I could no longer espy them from my note-taking spot. "You guys are very beautiful," the tell us, which might be more banter than I've ever heard from them at one time during a set (and that's only a slight exaggeration). "Youth" was next, sounding as perfectly end-of-summer as ever, and causing much dancing amongst the assembled. As the place filled to (over?) capacity, I made my escape before the end of the set. But oh! How good they were. As always.

I went back to King's Barcade to finish out the night, hanging out with a couple of dear Richmond friends, PJ and Melissa, and a couple of pretty good bands, Little Scream and Kort. I was really impressed with Little Scream, they were rather dramatic and very lively, and even had a lady violinist with them (violins are so hot right now, after all). Their sound was very, very pretty, oft empassioned at times and softer at others. Those combined elements made for a very interesting set indeed. Very worth your while, should you ever get the chance to see Little Scream. By the time Kort took the stage, I was asleep on my feet, but their energetic, vibrant twang was sensational. Also, I love cowboy hats. And men wearing cowboy hats. This band has serious stage presence, and commanded attention something serious. Had I been more awake, I would have been dancing up a storm to their infectious noise.

Y'all know how much I love going to festivals. It's pretty much one of my favorite things to do in the entire world. And Hopscotch, over the course of one magnificent weekend, has become one of my favorite of all festivals. It was a well-run, well-oiled festival machine, full of great bands and respectful folks out and about in search of getting their musical kicks. How lucky is Raleigh to have such a wonderful festival?! I can only hope to head back down there next year for more Hopscotch goodness. I tip my proverbial hat to you, Hopscotch folks. You've made a believer out of me for dang sure.

Hopscotch 2011 | Flaming Lips | Highlights from Raleigh, NC from V. Chavez on Vimeo.



[photo of The Hairs by Megan Petty]

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