This weekend, bands and fans take over downtown Raleigh for the fourth annual Hopscotch Music Festival. Check out what Diversions staff have to say about the festival so far.
Chris, Assistant Dive Editor
If Thursday evening was any indication of the quality of the remainder of the festival, then I was in for a real treat. After a couple of intimate day party sets from newcomers Drag Sounds out of Greensboro and Raleigh’s First Person Plural, I was off to City Plaza to experience the first show of the festival in the Fayetteville St. block.
Local openers Gross Ghost got the crowd warmed up with their infectious indie pop. Frontman Mike Dillon’s raw power chords rang through the open air venue. The band’s set included a number off tracks of its recently completed LP Public Housing, which Dillon announced would be released in late September.
Next to hit the stage was Baltimore’s Future Islands, whose members all hail from North Carolina. The band’s downtempo electronica providing a fitting soundtrack to the setting sun and vocalist Sam Herring demonstrated some of his infamous, exaggerated dance moves. The trio’s set largely consisted of new songs, which Herring announced would be featured on the band’s new record. The tunes had more of a smooth jazz vibe in contrast with the band’s typical melancholic demeanor.
Following Future Island’s set, I made my way to Kings, expecting to arrive a bit early to grab a seat for Black Zinfandel’s performance. However, when I arrived at the packed venue, my eyes turned to the stage to see the one and only Thurston Moore violently strumming his guitar. I glanced over to the opposite side of the stage to spot Japanese noise luminary Merzbow playing some kind of electronic instrument that resembled a frying pan. As a wall of noise protruded from the stage, I couldn’t believe my eyes (and ears)! Merzbow and Moore were jamming! Rounded out by drummer John Moloney, the impromptu trio tore through a feedback-inducing set that shook Kings to its core. At the conclusion of the set, Merzbow and Moore met for a brief handshake and then casually strolled off stage — a rather calm conclusion to a jarring performance.
After catching a few of Black Zinfandel’s aggressive punk tunes, I headed down to Five Star for the math-y grooves of Washington, DC’s Deleted Scenes. The band’s three guitar onslaught was matched by deep bass and competent backbeat. From there it was off the one of the festival’s bigger rooms, the Memorial Auditorium, where a large crowd had assembled for indie favorites Local Natives. Playing tunes from its latest record Hummingbird, as well as the fabulous Gorilla Manor, Local Natives certainly satisfied the crowd with its dense sound and dynamic light show.
After a quick stroll over to the Fletcher Opera Theater, I caught a couple songs from Mount Moriah’s performance of their entire catalog. An ambitious undertaking I know, but the warm acoustics in the theater lent themselves perfectly to the band’s ominous folk tunes.
After leaving Fletcher, I quickly headed back across downtown to The Pour House for Mikal Cronin. The San Francisco garage popper’s latest release MCII has not yet left my car CD player, despite its early Summer release. Cronin wailed as his stellar backing band ripped off garage jams. His poppier tunes, like “Weight” and “Shout It Out,” became full-fledged rockers, complete with heavily distorted guitar solos and thunderous floor tom accents.
Cronin’s set was definitely a highlight on a Friday filled with pleasant surprises. Saturday is shaping up to be a solid conclusion to the fourth Hopscotch installment, with sets from The Breeders, Spiritualized and the legendary John Cale.
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